Cream of Wheat’s Famous Chef is Buried in the Village of Leslie, Michigan
Frank L. White was/is familiar to millions of people all over the world as the “Cream of Wheat” man, with his likeness on every box.
Cream of Wheat made its debut in 1893, packed in handmade boxes with the image of an African-American chef on the cover. It was an artist's drawing of a chef from Chicago, Frank L. White, according to White himself.
Despite those who dispute the identity, the Cream of Wheat company admits that the man on the box is a depiction of that Chicago chef they photographed in 1900. Beginning in 1901, Frank's face was on the cover of every Cream of Wheat box and in just about every advertisement, lasting for well over 100 years.....but no one knew the name of the man on the box.
The original magazine advertisements for Cream of Wheat were not very flattering to Frank, depicting the chef as being somewhat illiterate. In real life, Frank led quite an interesting and successful life.
Born in the Barbados in 1867, Frank arrived in the United States in 1875 and began working in Chicago. He traveled endlessly to cities, towns, villages, communities, wanting to see the country. Finally, he decided to settle down. Frank was married twice, the second time to a woman who was the second African-American woman to graduate from the University of Michigan. Her hometown was the Michigan village of Leslie, where Frank and his wife ended up living out their remaining years beginning in the 1920s. Frank garnered a very good reputation while in Mid-Michigan, working in Mason operating the Holly House and becoming famous for his Maryland Chicken recipe.
According to Ferris State University, when Frank passed away on February 15, 1938, the local Leslie newspaper described him in the obituary as being a famous chef who “posed for an advertisement of a well-known breakfast food". During his lifetime, White indeed told his family, friends, and neighbors that he is the man on the box. After decades of lying in an unmarked grave, Lansing resident Jesse Lasorda of the Mid Michigan Genealogical Society uncovered information that identified the man in the unmarked grave as Frank L. White. Doing further research, Jesse found more details that pointed to Frank as the Cream of Wheat chef. The gravemarker was finally put at his resting place around 2007, approximately 70 years after his death.
You can find Frank's gravestone in the Leslie cemetery, with his “Cream of Wheat” pose etched on the stone. In the few years before 2020, companies began bowing to pressure to remove people of various races from commercial products like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben.
Finally, in the summer of 2020, Cream of Wheat caved and announced they would soon be removing Frank's face from the cereal box, much to the dismay of many.
The Cream of Wheat Man: Frank L. White
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