Quaker Oats cooked up a new image for an old, offensive brand Tuesday. PepsiCo Inc. the parent company for Quaker Oats, announced its rebranding of Aunt Jemima, the popular pancake and syrup brand, retiring the racist stereotype used for the product’s image.
PepsiCo will replace Aunt Jemima with the Pearl Milling Company — one full year after the company first announced plans to do away with the Aunt Jemima brand.
Aunt Jemima and other food brands, including Uncle Ben’s, Cream of Wheat, and Mrs. Butterworth’s, announced redesigns amid protests against systemic racism and police brutality in the U.S. last summer. But calls to remove the Aunt Jemima imagery, and others like it, were made long before companies acquiesced to public pressure last year.
The smiling Aunt Jemima logo was inspired by the 19th-century “mammy” minstrel character, a Black woman serving her White masters. A former slave, Nancy Green, became the first face of the pancake products in 1890.
Aunt Jemima got launched in 1925 and the logo got updated over the years in an effort to remove the negative stereotypes. But last summer when Black Lives Matter protests were in full swing, the brand decided to change the name altogether.
The company said that the Pearl Milling Company was established in 1888 in St Joseph, Missouri, and was the first to come up with a self-rising pancake mix. Even though the pancake brand’s name is changing, the packaging will be familiar to the old Aunt Jemima’s red box.
Quaker also said that the organization will donate $1M to groups that empower Black women and girls as part of the Pearl Milling Company rollout.
As soon as the news made its way to social media, people started talking about it.
Social Media personality Kemmstar tweeted, “Aunt Jemima Maple Syrup new logo & name! RACISM JUST ENDED!”
While one person slammed the act and wrote, “What people failed to realize is that it isnt a stereotype. The actual aunt Jemima was a freed slave who sold her breakfast recipes to Quaker oats co. to the tune of several million dollars. Great job, you’re erasing black history just because you believe her character was racist.”
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