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July 25, 2022

Frank L. White, the Real Chef Behind the Cream of Wheat’s Mascot

While Cream of Wheat has stated that current chef image is based on a photo of a chef working in a Chicago restaurant, according to Ferris State University, the company never bothered to record the man’s name. However, Frank L. White, a chef from Michigan that the university describes as “well traveled” is said to have told friends and neighbors that he was the model for the Cream of Wheat chef. When he died in 1938, the local newspaper described him as someone who had “posed for an advertisement of a well-known breakfast food.”

A native of Barbados, Frank White immigrated to the U.S. in 1875, where he became a citizen in 1890. He was working as a master chef at a Chicago restaurant at the time he was photographed for the cereal box in 1900.

White lived in Leslie, Michigan in his last decades. He died aged about 70 in 1938 and is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Leslie. In June 2007, the concrete marker on his grave was replaced with a granite gravestone.

In September, 2020, B&G Foods announced that images of the Cream of Wheat chef would be removed from packaging. The food manufacturer announced in June that it was reviewing the packaging after widespread protests against systemic racism pushed several companies to re-evaluate their branding. “While research indicates the image may be based upon an actual Chicago chef named Frank White, it reminds some consumers of earlier depictions they find offensive,” B&G Foods said in a statement. “Therefore, we are removing the chef image from all Cream of Wheat packaging.”


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