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Weird Facts about Ben's® Original Brand Rice

  • In the 1940s rice farmers in Houston, Texas, rated their rice against the rice grown by a local farmer named Uncle Ben. Frank Brown, a maítre d' in a Houston restaurant, posed for the portrait of Uncle Ben. During the processing necessary to produce white rice, the bran layer—containing a large part of the nutritive value of rice—is removed. In England, scientists discovered a special steeping and steaming process to force the bran nutrients, under pressure, into the rice grain before the bran is removed, locking the nutrients inside the grain.
  • In the early 1940s, George Harwell, a successful Texas food broker, received permission to introduce the process developed in England to the United States but only if he could build a plant immediately. Because the new process improved the nutritional, cooking, and storage qualities of a food which had remained unchanged for more than five thousand years, Harwell convinced the United States government that this unique product merited war priorities. In 1943, Harwell and his partners shipped the first carload of Converted Brand Rice to an Army Quartermaster Depot.
  • Until the end of World War II, Converted brand rice was produced for use solely by military personnel. Then in 1946, Harwell's company, Converted Rice, Inc., brought this special rice to American consumers for the very first time using the familiar portrait of Uncle Ben as its trademark. Consumer response was so great that in just six years Uncle Ben's Converted Brand Rice became the number one packaged long grain rice sold in the United States.
  • Critics claim that the image of Uncle Ben—a reminder of Uncle Tom, the friendly retainers who might have served meals on a Carolina rice plantation—reinforces racist stereotypes of black servants being happy with their lot in life. In the 1980s, the company dropped Uncle Ben from the rice boxes for two years. Sales plummeted, and the company quickly reinstated Uncle Ben's portrait on the boxes.
  • Rice is thrown at weddings as a symbol of fertility.
  • The world's leading producer of rice is China. The world's second leading exporter of rice is the United States, second only to Thailand. The world's leading importer of rice is Iran.
  • Adding one tablespoon of butter, margarine, or oil to the water before adding the rice will prevent the rice from becoming sticky.
  • To reheat rice, place the cooked rice in a coffee filter and place in a vegetable steamer over boiler water.
  • Rice is grown on more than 10 percent of the earth's farmable surface.
  • Rice is the mainstay for nearly 40 percent of the world's population.
  • Ben's Original Brand Rice retains up to 85 percent of the natural B-complex vitamins, giving it more natural food value than ordinary white rice.
  • In 1995, Houston Rockets basketball star Hakeem Olajuwon agreed to be a spokesperson for Uncle Ben's.
  • Ben's is the world's leading parboiled rice brand.
  • In June 2020, Mars Inc., the owner of Uncle Ben's Rice, announced plans to change its brand image in the name of racial equality. "As a global brand, we know we have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices," "As we listen to the voices of consumers, especially in the Black community, and to the voices of our Associates worldwide, we recognize that now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do." The company changed the name of the product to Uncle Ben's Original Brand Rice that fall.
Copyright © 1995- Joey Green. "Ben's" and "Original" are registered trademarks of Mars or Affiliates.
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