Quaker Oats announced today that the Aunt Jemima brand of syrup and pancake mix will get a new name and branding, saying the company recognizes that
“Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype.”
The 130-year-old brand features a Black woman named Aunt Jemima, who was originally dressed as a minstrel character.
The image has changed over time, and Quaker removed the “mammy” kerchief to quell growing criticism that they perpetuated a racist stereotype that dated back to slavery.
Quaker, owned by PepsiCo, said removing the image and name is part of an effort by the company
“to make progress toward racial equality.”
Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a press release.
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype. As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations.”
People on social media called out the brand for continuing to use the image and discussed its racist history.
The company’s own timeline of the product says Aunt Jemima was first “brought to life” by Nancy Green, a black woman who was formerly enslaved and became the face of the product in 1890.
The company announced it will donate at least $5 million over the next five years
“to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community.”
Quaker said the new packaging will begin to appear in the fall of 2020, and a new name for the foods will be announced at a later date.
Look out Uncle Ben, you’re next! (Actually the guy on he box is named Frank, but that’s another story…)
You can read more about Aunt Jemima’s history and slave origins in this eye-opening article. Or check out this two-minute history.
(via NBC News)