In the last week, the culture wars have moved to a new theater. The grocery aisle.
With several brands reimagining their packaging to address the perceived systemic racism of their products, NBC News reports there may be yet another new look to a staple breakfast:
The makers of the breakfast porridge Cream of Wheat is conducting “an immediate review” of the brand’s packaging, which prominently features a smiling Black chef.
The move by B&G Foods, based in Parsippany, New Jersey, comes on the heels of Quaker Oats announcing it’s doing away with the brand name Aunt Jemima for its syrup and Mars Inc. saying the company’s Uncle Ben’s rice would be changing its name.
B&G Foods said in a statement Wednesday that it was “initiating an immediate review of the Cream of Wheat brand packaging.”
The Associated Press also confirms the report:
&G Foods Inc., which makes Cream of Wheat hot cereal, said Wednesday it is initiating “an immediate review” of its packaging. A smiling black chef holding a bowl of cereal has appeared on Cream of Wheat packaging and in ads since at least 1918, according to the company’s web site.
“We understand there are concerns regarding the Chef image, and we are committed to evaluating our packaging and will proactively take steps to ensure that we and our brands do not inadvertently contribute to systemic racism,” Parsippany, New Jersey-based B&G said in a statement.
Cream of What is just the latest product to review it's packaging and public perception.
Uncle Ben. He's gone.
Aunt Jemima. She doesn't live here anymore.
Mrs. Butterworth? Say it ain't so...
The debate around the images on these products revolves around the original stereotypes that many believe they were reinforcing:
Still for others, the repackaging of food products to fit a more WOKE society seems a bridge too far:
Even for the great-grandson of Nancy Green, the woman whose likeness is used for Aunt Jemima, elininating these images is a complicated subject.
According to Patch:
A great-grandson of "Aunt Jemima" doesn't want Quaker Oats — or white America, for that matter — to easily erase its racist history by "retiring" the iconic breakfast brand.
"This is an injustice for me and my family. This is part of my history, sir," Larnell Evans Sr. told me. "The racism they talk about, using images from slavery, that comes from the other side — white people. This company profits off images of our slavery. And their answer is to erase my great-grandmother's history. A black female. … It hurts."
"She worked for that Quaker Oats for 20 years. She traveled all the way around the United States and Canada making pancakes as Aunt Jemima for them," he said. "This woman served all those people, and it was after slavery. She worked as Aunt Jemima. That was her job. … How do you think I feel as a black man sitting here telling you about my family history they're trying to erase?"
In an era where stereotypes from last century are no longer recognized in the public consciousness, the question is does removing these images do more harm then good?
Will eliminating black faces rectify the injustices of the past?
Who will replace Uncle Ben? An old white guy?
Will Aunt Jemima look like Martha Stewart?
The images today don't conjur the racial caricatures of the past.
They are just the comforting faces of some our favorite foods.
People of all colors love Aunt Jemima...Is that such a bad thing?