Monday, October 31, 2005

stalwart or shill

Speakers Corner, October 2004

Our namesake, Uncle Ben, was an African-American rice grower who harvested his rice with such care that he reaped honors for the full-kernel yields and quality. In fact, his rice was of such excellent quality that it came to represent the standard by which all other rice was judged. As the story goes, the proudest boast a rice grower could make was to claim his rice to be "as good as Uncle Ben's."

Years later, Gordon L. Harwell launched a company offering to the public the same high-quality, nutritious rice he'd supplied to the armed forces in WWII through his company, Converted Rice, Inc. He chose the name "UNCLE BEN'S" to symbolize the high quality of his rice products. To this day, we preserve the standard that was set so many years ago by the Texas rice grower named Uncle Ben.-
(from the Mars web site


Advertisers used little black pickaninnies with braids and spindly legs, tar black Sambos with oversized rubbery red lips and large bugging eyes and overweight mammies to sell everything from cigarettes to cereals.
These symbols not only continued but proliferated around the turn of the century with the overwhelming success of Uncle Ben, The Gold Dust Twins, Rastus and Aunt Jemima.
- Marilyn Kern-Foxworth from her book Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and Rastus: Blacks in Advertising, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Imagine the consternation among journalists when, in a photo with two people of color, there is a box of the rice product.

What to do? Disappear Uncle Ben?

We believe in truth.

We believe in the freedom of right speech.

I like this rice, always have a 5 pound bag...

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Blogger Michael said...

While we ponder Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima, we might also ponder "100% Natural Ingredients".

When I was at college a relative sent me some army K rations for those all-night paper writing binges. There was an olive drab can with crackers and a smaller olive drab can of cheese spread inside. Among the many many ingredients of the cheese spread was listed "plastic food substitute".

It was a more innocent age.

Anonymous Anonymous said...


How about keeping the rice and leaving the name? It could be Senator Jamal or Rapper Rice.


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