Who were those icons of food? Who were the real people behind the products we’ve known for so long? The ones who’ve been on our grocery lists and in our pantries for so many years? Just exactly who were Uncle Ben, Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth? And why do we care at this point?
Uncle Ben was a Black Texas farmer. He later became a waiter at a fancy Chicago restaurant and was known for his ability to grow rice. His name was Frank Brown.
Aunt Jemima’s real name was Nancy Green. Born into slavery, she became a sought after cook and later the trusted face of Aunt Jemima products.
Mrs. Butterworth, born Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen, was, among other things, the actress who played Prissy in “Gone With The Wind”.
They are all now labeled as stereotypically racist. It’s time for them to go. Time for their faces to be removed from the packaging and new, noncontroversial names given to their products. All of that in order to reflect our political correctness. And yes, we get it. How could we not? But with that change, an important period of history gets erased.
“Uncle Ben’s” became simply “Ben”s”. “Aunt Jemima” morphed into “Pearl Milling Company” and “Mrs. Butterworth” awaits a new name. All so bland and unremarkable.
And we muse: Is Paul Newman in jeopardy? How about The Green Giant and the jaunty Planters Peanut man? Or the little Morton’s salt girl? Are they politically correct? More importantly, who decides? So, hang on to your hats and tighten your apron strings. It’s a slippery slope out there in grocery-land.