Update: September 28, 2020
B&G Foods announced that the Black chef on the Cream of Wheat packaging is being removed because "it reminds some consumers of earlier depictions they find offensive." The brand did not release when the new packaging will be hitting stores.
The original article continues below:
Add two more the list of brands-that-should-have-already-looked-into-their-racial-packaging. In the last twenty-four hours, four brands, Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben's, Mrs. Butterworth, and Cream of Wheat have publicly announced that they will al look into the racial stereotyping their packaging conveys. The latest, which was announced this morning, is Cream of Wheat hot cereal, whos packaging originally contained a Black chef named Rastus, a name that holds racist connotations towards Black men.
Cream of Wheat to Review Logo and Branding
Parent company B&G Foods Inc. gave this statement on Wednesday evening.
We are initiating an immediate review of the Cream of Wheat brand packaging. 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. B&G Foods unequivocally stands against prejudice and injustice of any kind.
The History of Cream of Wheat
Similar looking to grits, cream of wheat is a type of breakfast cereal made out of farina and was first manufactured in 1893 by wheat millers in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The millers packaged up the breakfast porridge and stuck on an image of a happy Black chef named Rastus, could have been inspired by the Uncle Remus books by Joel Chandler Harris. These are the same books that inspired Walt Disney to make the cartoon, Song of the South. The image was problematic because it depicted a happy slave working for the white man. In later advertisements, Rastus was seen as illiterate and dumb, holding signs depicting that he did not know what vitamins were.
It wasn't until the 1920s when Cream of Wheat changed the photograph on their advertisements and products from Rastus to Frank L. White, a professional chef who modeled as the new mascot. At the time, the chef was photographed and his name was not recorded. Years later White shared it was him on the breakfast food boxes.
Cream of Wheat has not shared what its plans are going forward with the cereal branding.