The packaged food industry has been erasing racial stereotyping in terms of brand names and marketing. Last September Mars, Incorporated changed Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice (aka Uncle Ben’s “Perverted” Rice) to Ben’s Original. And Quaker Oats’ deep-sixed Aunt Jemima pancake brand will henceforth be known as Pearl Milling Company pancakes. Companies keeping in step with the times, etc.
When’s the last time Hollywood Elsewhere ate a breakfast plate of Aunt Jemima pancakes or enjoyed a bowl of Uncle Ben’s rice? Not since I was eight or nine years old, and I really don’t care.
But (and I say this with a slight twinge of trepidation) I have a sentimental attachment to the character of “Gussie”, a black maid working for Jim and Muriel Blandings (Cary Grant, Myrna Loy) in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (’48), and especially the WHAM ham ad slogan that Gussy dreams up at the finale — “If you ain’t eating WHAM, you ain’t eating ham.”
Obviously Gussie is just as much of a woke cultural prohibition as Aunt Jemima or Uncle Ben or Uncle Remus from Song of the South. You know that wokester activists would like to digitally erase Gussie out of existence if they could; ditto Hattie McDaniel‘s “Mammy” in Gone With The Wind. But if they did, Mr. Blandings wouldn’t end with that socko slogan. It’s a problem.