For those who eat rice, it is most likely you know about Uncle Ben’s rice. It is one of the more popular brands in grocery stores, and is available in both brown and white rice varities. However, do you know anything about the man who appears on the box?
Here is a little bit of history behind “Uncle Ben.”
1. The name “Uncle Ben” referred to a Gulf Coast rice farmer who was only known by Ben. He delivered to food buyers a high quality rice in the 1940s.
2. Uncle Ben’s was first based in Houston, Texas. Ben reportedly won a number of awards for the quality and yield of his rice crops.
3. The man on the packets and box was a maître d’hotel at an unknown Chicago restaurant in the mid-50s named Frank Brown.
4. A German-born scientist, Erich Huzenlaub, is the one who allegedly chose Ben’s rice as the starting point for his revolutionary rice-treatment system.
5. Huzenlaub and his food-broker partner Gordon Harwell, enjoyed eating out in the Windy City and had been served by Brown a number of times. Harwell and Huzenlaub decided that Brown was sort of an ideal picture of a respectable and easygoing black man during the 1940s, and ended up using his image to sell what became the top-selling American brand of rice until the mid-’90s.
6. It is believed that the only reason “Uncle Ben” was called “Uncle” instead of “Mr. Ben” or the “King of Rice” is because white people during that time did not want to address blacks as “Sir” or “Mr.” Therefore, out of respect for his age, he was called Uncle.
7. It is not known if Frank Brown received any royalties beyond the initial payment to take a picture of his face.