RANCHO DOMINGUEZ, Calif., Jan. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Uncle Ben's®, the number-one selling brand of rice in the United States, today announced the launch of the Ben's Beginners™ Cooking Contest, designed to empower and encourage parents to connect with their kids, one meal at a time. Part of the Brand's Begin With Ben™ campaign, which illustrates how Uncle Ben's rice gives you an easy start to a world of better meals, Ben's Beginners™ provides tools and tips to encourage families to cook and eat together.
Parents with children (ages 5-12) are invited to submit home videos that show the family together in the kitchen introducing a rice-based dish they prepared and discussing their experience cooking together. Consumers will have an opportunity to vote for their favorites and one grand prize winner will receive $20,000 cash, an appearance on "The Rachael Ray Show" and a $50,000 cafeteria makeover for the child's school. Videos can be submitted to www.BensBeginnersContest.com until Feb. 26, 2012, where official contest rules, kid-friendly recipes and helpful hints can also be found.
"Our goal is to demonstrate and celebrate that cooking with your kids leads to a better relationship with food and with each other," said Tim Snyder, vice president of marketing, Mars Food US, the parent company of the Uncle Ben's® Brand. "As a company, Mars Food strongly supports healthy eating and family togetherness. We are thrilled to be launching a campaign that will help parents establish healthy beginnings in their children's lives."
Actress and Mom Angie Harmon Champions Family Cooking
To announce the launch of the contest, the Uncle Ben's® Brand is hosting a hands-on educational event this week for children in New York City. Actress and mother of three, Angie Harmon will join more than 30 local elementary school children and their parents as they learn how to prepare kid-friendly recipes and receive tips to create simple, healthful, flavorful meals at home. Attendees will also enjoy a special luncheon featuring exclusive Uncle Ben's® Brand recipes including Sweet & Sticky Rice Salad and Lemony Chicken Rice Stew.
"As a mother of three, it's extremely important to me that my children are in the kitchen with me to understand where their food comes from and how it's prepared," said Harmon, star of TNT drama Rizzoli & Isles. "I'm excited to be working with the Uncle Ben's Brand to encourage parents and children to reconnect in the kitchen to develop a healthy relationship with food and each other."
To help celebrate the contest launch, the Uncle Ben's® Brand is partnering with "The Rachael Ray Show" to encourage families to get in the kitchen and get cooking. Harmon will be a guest on the award-winning daytime show to officially kick off the contest, with additional segments planned to feature a live cook-off with four finalists and to announce the grand prize winner.
Following the entry period, there will be a voting period where consumers are encouraged to vote for their favorite videos, narrowing the field down to four finalists. Each of the four finalists will win $750 and a trip to New York to appear on "The Rachael Ray Show." From there fans get to vote again between March 26 and April 9, 2012 to help determine the grand prize winner. For every vote received, the Uncle Ben's® Brand will donate $1 (up to $35,000) to Rachael Ray's Yum-o!®, a non-profit which empowers kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking.
"We're thrilled that the Uncle Ben's Brand is launching its Ben's Beginners Cooking Contest to help families start cooking freshly prepared meals and to connect in the kitchen," said Andrew Kaplan, executive director of the Yum-o! organization. "The donation that we will receive as a result of this program and fans voting for their favorite video will allow us to continue to foster a healthy relationship between kids, their families and the food they eat."
The Ben's Beginners™ Cooking Contest is an extension of last year's successful kick off of the global Begin With Ben™ campaign, which made a grain of rice a hero for better eating and family togetherness. The campaign visually illustrates the journey of a single grain of rice to a family's dinner table and encourages consumers to consider rice as a great beginning to any meal – versus simply a side dish. For more information about Uncle Ben's® Brand products, kid-friendly recipes and nutrition information, visit www.unclebens.com.
About Uncle Ben's®
Uncle Ben's®, the number one rice brand in America, is proud to offer a wide range of rice dishes with flavors and textures that will help bring more to your meals, both for convenient side dishes and savory main courses. Uncle Ben's® offers a wide variety of white, whole grain brown, and flavored rices in cook times ranging from 30 minutes to 90 seconds, as well as rice for food service operations such as restaurants, schools and hospitals. The first mass-produced parboiled rice, Uncle Ben's® is the top-selling branded rice in the United States and products can be found in more than 100 countries worldwide. Uncle Ben's® Brand products are manufactured by Mars Food NA, part of Mars, Incorporated. For more information, visit www.UncleBens.com.
About Rachael Ray
Rachael Ray is best known as the host of the hit syndicated Emmy Award winning daytime television show, Rachael Ray, produced by CBS Television Distribution in association with Harpo Productions, Scripps Networks and Watch Entertainment. Rachael's warmth, energy, and boundless curiosity also reaches scores of fans through her popular Food Network shows, bestselling cookbooks, her own line of cookware created by Meyer, knives by Furitechnics, signature food ingredients by Colavita and lifestyle magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray. In 2007, Rachael launched the Yum-o! organization, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking. In 2008 she partnered with Ainsworth Pet Nutrition to create a line of pet food, of which all her proceeds are donated to organizations that help animals in need. For more information, visit www.rachaelray.com.
About the Yum-o! Organization
Yum-o!® is Rachael Ray's nonprofit organization that empowers kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking by teaching families to cook, feeding hungry kids and funding cooking education and scholarships. By providing the tools to create easy, affordable and delicious meals, Yum-o! is changing the way America eats. For more information about the Yum-o! organization, visit www.yum-o.org.
SOURCE Uncle Ben's Brand