At the local grocery store in Middlefart, Denmark, Uncle Ben is on the shelf in a Boil-In-Bag for 19.95 Danish krone. I was looking for items that were familiar to me from my grocery store at home in Gilbertsville Pennsylvania, the United States of America.
Uncle Ben is not related to me. I have an Uncle Andy and an Uncle David. They are my father’s brothers. And I had an Uncle Roy, Uncle Miro, Uncle Walter and Uncle Roman, who are dead. When I saw the packing that said Uncle Ben, I thought, Ah, Uncle Ben.
I wanted to purchase the rice and eat it in Denmark, even though I never buy Uncle Ben’s rice at home. I usually buy rice that I boil with the recipe, 4 cups of water, to two cups of rice. I don’t buy instant rice, or boil in the bag Uncle Ben’s Rice.
Gordon L. Harwell, an entrepreneur who had supplied rice to the armed forces in World War II, chose the name Uncle Ben’s as a means to expand his marketing efforts to the general public. Uncle Ben’s Rice was introduced to the market in 1943 according to the article I read in Wikipedia. Mr. Harwell chose well. The name made we want to buy the rice, even though I didn’t particularly like the product.
Uncle Ben’s image use to represent a domestic slave, in 2007 he was “promoted” to “Chairman of the Board”. I never thought before who the smiling image of the elderly African-American man dressed in a bow-tie was. I now know his face is the visage of a Chicago maitre d’hotel named Frank Brown.
Mr. Brown, your smiling face reminds me of home. And when I get back to Gilbertsville Pennsylvania, United States of America I will buy a box of Uncle Ben’s Rice.