Here’s what Aunt Jemima pancake brand will be called now, and the history behind its new name
By Dee-Ann Durbin
Feb 10, 2021 at 7:15 AM
Aunt Jemima is making her last batch of pancakes.
Quaker Oats said Tuesday that its Aunt Jemima brand pancake mix and syrup will be renamed Pearl Milling Company. Aunt Jemima products will continue to be sold until June, when the packaging will officially change over.
Quaker Oats, a Chicago-based division of PepsiCo, had announced last June that it would retire the Aunt Jemima brand, saying the character’s origins are “based on a racial stereotype.” The smiling Aunt Jemima logo was inspired by the 19th century “mammy” minstrel character, a Black woman content to serve her white masters. A former slave, Nancy Green, became the first face of the pancake products in 1890.
Quaker Oats bought the Aunt Jemima brand in 1925 and had updated the logo over the years in an effort to remove the negative stereotypes. But in the cultural reckoning that followed last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, Quaker decided to change the name altogether. Other brands, like Uncle Ben’s rice, followed.
Quaker said Pearl Milling Company was founded in 1888 in St. Joseph, Missouri, and was the originator of self-rising pancake mix. While the brand will be new to store shelves, the boxes and bottles of syrup will still have the familiar red packaging of Aunt Jemima.
Quaker said it sought input from customers, employees and external cultural experts as it developed the new brand name.
Quaker said it is also donating $1 million to groups that empower Black women and girls as part of the Pearl Milling Company rollout.
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Brand of pancake mix, syrup, and other breakfast foods
For the Vaudeville performer using this stage name, see Tess Gardella.
Pearl Milling Company (historically known as Aunt Jemima) is a brand of pancake mix, syrup, and other breakfast foods. The pancake mix was developed in 1888–1889 by the Pearl Milling Company and advertised as the first ready-mix. The Aunt Jemima character, developed by Chris L. Rutt and Charles G. Underwood for their ready-made pancake flour mix at the Pearl Milling Company is "likely based on the enslaved"Mammy" archetype. The "Aunt Jemima Doctrine" in US trademark law originates in a 1915 case between the pancake mix company and an unrelated seller of pancake syrup. The brand has been owned by the Quaker Oats Company since 1926.
Nancy Green portrayed Aunt Jemima at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, one of the first Black corporate models in the United States. Subsequent advertising agencies hired dozens of actors to perform the role as the first organized sales promotion campaign.
Since its debut, the character of Aunt Jemima has been criticized as an example of exploited Black women. "Aunt Jemima" is sometimes used as a female version of the derogatory epithet "Uncle Tom" or "Rastus". In June 2020, Quaker Oats announced that the Aunt Jemima brand would be retired "to make progress toward racial equality". They subsequently announced in February 2021 that the line will be re-branded in June 2021 as Pearl Milling Company after the original owners of the pancake mix.
St. Joseph Gazette editor Chris L. Rutt, of St. Joseph, Missouri, and his friend Charles G. Underwood bought a flour mill in 1888. Rutt and Underwood's "Pearl Milling Company" faced a glutted flour market. After experimenting, they sold their excess flour as a pancake mix in paper bags with a generic label, "Self-Rising Pancake Flour", later dubbed "the first ready-mix". To distinguish their pancake mix, in the autumn of 1889 Rutt appropriated the Aunt Jemima name and image from lithographed posters seen at a vaudeville house in St. Joseph, Missouri.
1889 Formula for Aunt Jemima mix:
- 100 lb [45 kg] Hard Winter Wheat
- 100 lb [45 kg] Corn Flour
- 7+1⁄2 lb [3.4 kg] B.W.T. Phosphates from Provident Chem[ical] St L[ouis]
- 2+3⁄4 lb [1.2 kg] Bicarb[onate] Soda
- 3 lb [1.4 kg] Salt.
However, Rutt and Underwood could not raise enough capital and quickly ran out of money. They sold their company to the Randolph Truett Davis Milling Company (also in St. Joseph, Missouri) in 1890, then the largest flouring mill on the Missouri River, having an established reputation with wholesale and retail grocers throughout the Missouri Valley. Davis improved the flavor and texture of the product by adding rice flour and corn sugar, and simplified the ready-mix by adding powdered milk. Only water was needed to prepare the batter.
The Davis Milling Company was renamed Aunt Jemima Mills in February 1914. In 1915, the well-known Aunt Jemima brand was the basis for a trademark law ruling that set a new precedent. Previously, United States trademark law had protected against infringement by other sellers of the same product, but under the "Aunt Jemima Doctrine" the seller of pancake mix was protected against infringement by an unrelated seller of pancake syrup.
The Quaker Oats Company purchased the Aunt Jemima Mills Company in 1926, and formally registered the Aunt Jemima trademark in April 1937. It remains one of the longest continually running logos and trademarks in the history of American advertising.
Quaker Oats introduced Aunt Jemima syrup in 1966. This was followed by Aunt Jemima Butter Lite syrup in 1985 and Butter Rich syrup in 1991.
Aunt Jemima frozen foods were licensed out to Aurora Foods in 1996, which was absorbed into Pinnacle Foods Corporation in 2004.
Character of Aunt Jemima
Aunt Jemima is based on the common enslaved"Mammy" archetype, a plump black woman wearing a headscarf who is a devoted and submissive servant. Her skin is dark and dewy, with a pearly white smile. Although depictions vary over time, they are similar to the common attire and physical features of "mammy" characters throughout American history.
The term "aunt" and "uncle" in this context was a Southern form of address used with older enslaved peoples. They were denied use of courtesy titles, such as "mistress" and "mister".
A British image in the Library of Congress, which may have been created as early as 1847, shows a smiling black woman named "Miss Jim-Ima Crow," with a framed image of "James Crow" on the wall behind her. A character named "Aunt Jemima" appeared on the stage in Washington, D.C., as early as 1864. Rutt's inspiration for Aunt Jemima was Billy Kersands' American-style minstrelsy/vaudeville song "Old Aunt Jemima", written in 1875. Rutt reportedly saw a minstrel show featuring the "Old Aunt Jemima" song in the fall of 1889, presented by blackface performers identified by Arthur F. Marquette as "Baker & Farrell". Marquette recounts that the actor playing Aunt Jemima wore an apron and kerchief.
However, Doris Witt at University of Iowa was unable to confirm Marquette's account. Witt suggests that Rutt might have witnessed a performance by the vaudeville performer Pete F. Baker, who played characters described in newspapers of that era as "Ludwig" and "Aunt Jemima". His portrayal of the Aunt Jemima character may have been a white male in blackface, pretending to be a German immigrant, imitating a black minstrel parodying an imaginary black female slave cook.
Beginning in 1894, the company added an Aunt Jemima paper doll family that could be cut out from the pancake box. Aunt Jemima is joined by her husband, Uncle Rastus (later renamed Uncle Mose to avoid confusion with the Cream of Wheat character, while Uncle Mose was first introduced as the plantation butler). Their children, described as "comical pickannies": Abraham Lincoln, Dilsie, Zeb, and Dinah. The paper doll family was posed dancing barefoot, dressed in tattered clothing, and the box was labeled "Before the Receipt was sold." (Receipt is an archaic rural form of recipe.) Buying another box with elegant clothing cut-outs to fit over the dolls, the customer could transform them "After the Receipt was sold." This placed them in the Horatio Alger rags-to-riches American cultural mythos.
Rag doll versions were offered as a premium in 1909: "Aunt Jemima Pancake Flour/Pica ninny Doll/ The Davis Milling Company." Early versions were portrayed as poor people with patches on the trousers, large mouths, and missing teeth. The children's names were changed to Diana and Wade. Over time, there were improvements in appearance. Oil-cloth versions were available circa the 1950s, with cartoonish features, round eyes, and watermelon mouths.
Marketing materials for the line of products centered around the "Mammy" archetype, including the slogan first used at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois: "I's in Town, Honey".
At that World's Fair, and for decades afterward, marketers created and circulated fictional stories about Aunt Jemima. She was presented as a "loyal cook" for a fictional Colonel Higbee's Louisiana plantation on the Mississippi River. Jemima was said to use a secret recipe "from the South before the Civil War," with their "matchless plantation flavor," to make the best pancakes in Dixie. Another story described her as diverting Union soldiers during the Civil War with her pancakes long enough for Colonel Higbee to escape. She was said to have revived a group of shipwrecked survivors with her flapjacks.
A typical magazine ad from the turn of the century created by advertising executive James Webb Young, and the illustrator N.C. Wyeth, shows a heavyset black cook talking happily while a white man takes notes. The ad copy says, "After the Civil War, after her master's death, Aunt Jemima was finally persuaded to sell her famous pancake recipe to the representative of a northern milling company."
However, the Davis Milling Company was not located in a northern state. Missouri in the American Civil War was a hotly contested border state. In reality, she never existed, created by marketers to better sell products.
See also: Nadir of American race relations
1920 Saturday Evening Post ad with N.C. Wyeth illustration
1935 Quaker Oats plantation pancakes ad with Anna Robinson
Although the Aunt Jemima character was not created until nearly 25 years after the American Civil War, the clothing, dancing, enslaved dialect, singing old plantation songs as she worked, all harkened back to a glorified view of antebellum Southern plantation life as a "happy slave" narrative. The marketing legend surrounding Aunt Jemima's successful commercialization of her "secret recipe" contributes to the post-Civil War nostalgia and romanticism of Southern life in service of America's developing consumer culture—especially in the context of selling kitchen items.
African American women formed the Women's Columbian Association and the Women's Columbian Auxiliary Association to address the exclusion of African Americans from the 1893 World's Fair exhibitions, asking that the fair reflect the success of post-Emancipation African Americans. Instead, the Fair included a miniature West African village whose natives were portrayed as primitive savages.Ida B. Wells was incensed by the exclusion of African Americans from mainstream fair activities; so-called "Negro Day" was a picnic held off-site from the fairgrounds.
Black scholars Hallie Quinn Brown, Anna Julia Cooper, and Fannie Barrier Williams used the World's Fair as an opportunity to address how African American women were being exploited by white men. In her book A Voice from the South (1892), Cooper had noted the fascination with "Southern influence, Southern ideas, and Southern ideals" had "dictated to and domineered over the brain and sinew of this nation".
These educated progressive women saw "a mammy for the national household" represented at the World's Fair by Aunt Jemima. This directly relates to the belief that slavery cultivated innate qualities in African Americans. The notion that African Americans were natural servants reinforced a racist ideology renouncing the reality of African American intellect.
Aunt Jemima embodied a post-Reconstruction fantasy of idealized domesticity, inspired by "happy slave" hospitality, and revealed a deep need to redeem the antebellum South. There were others that capitalized on this theme, such as Uncle Ben's Rice and Cream of Wheat's Rastus.
The earliest advertising was based upon a vaudeville parody, and remained a caricature for many years.
Quaker Oats commissioned Haddon Sundblom, a nationally known commercial artist, to paint a portrait of Anna Robinson. The Aunt Jemima package was redesigned around the new likeness.
James J. Jaffee, a freelance artist from the Bronx, New York, also designed one of the images of Aunt Jemima used by Quaker Oats to market the product into the mid-20th century.
Just as the formula for the mix has changed several times over the years, so has the Aunt Jemima image. In 1968, the face of Aunt Jemima became a composited creation. She was slimmed down from her previous appearance, depicting a more “svelte” look, wearing a white collar, and geometric print "headband" still resembling her previous kerchief.
In 1989, as she marked her 100th anniversary, her image was again updated, with all head-covering removed, revealing wavy, gray-streaked hair, gold-trimmed pearl earrings, and replacing her plain white collar with lace. At the time, the revised image was described as a move towards a more "sophisticated" depiction, with Quaker marketing the change as giving her "a more contemporary look" which remained on the products until early 2021.
On June 17, 2020, following the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests, Quaker Oats announced that Aunt Jemima would be retired and replaced with a new name and image "to make progress toward racial equality". The image was removed from packaging later in 2020, while the name change was said to happen at a later date.
Days earlier, American satirical news outlet The Onion published a fictional article about a similar announcement.
Descendants of Aunt Jemima models Lillian Richard and Anna Short Harrington objected to the change. Vera Harris, a family historian for Richard's family, said "I wish we would take a breath and not just get rid of everything. Because good or bad, it is our history." Harrington's great-grandson Larnell Evans said "This is an injustice for me and my family. This is part of my history." Evans had previously lost a lawsuit against Quaker Oats (and others) for billions of dollars in 2015.
On February 9, 2021, PepsiCo announced that the brand would be renamed as Pearl Milling Company. The new brand launched that June, one year after the company announced the change.
Performers of Aunt Jemima
The African American Registry of the United States suggests Nancy Green and others who played the caricature of Aunt Jemima should be celebrated despite what has been widely condemned as a stereotypical and racist brand image. The registry wrote, "we celebrate the birth of Nancy Green in 1834. She was a Black storyteller and one of the first Black corporate models in the United States."
Following Green's work as Aunt Jemima, very few were well-known. Advertising agencies (such as J. Walter Thompson, Lord and Thomas, and others) hired dozens of actors to portray the role, often assigned regionally, as the first organized sales promotion campaign.
Quaker Oats ended local appearances for Aunt Jemima in 1965.
Main article: Nancy Green
Nancy Green was the first spokesperson hired by the R. T. Davis Milling Company for the Aunt Jemima pancake mix. Green was born a slave in Montgomery County, Kentucky. Dressed as Aunt Jemima, Green appeared at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, beside the "world's largest flour barrel" (24 feet high), where she operated a pancake-cooking display, sang songs, and told romanticized stories about the Old South (a happy place for blacks and whites alike). She appeared at fairs, festivals, flea markets, food shows, and local grocery stores; her arrival heralded by large billboards featuring the caption, "I'se in town, honey."
Green refused to cross the ocean for the 1900 Paris exhibition. She was replaced by Agnes Moodey, "a negress of 60 years", who was then reported as the original Aunt Jemima. Green died in 1923 and was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave near a wall in the northeast quadrant of Chicago's Oak Woods Cemetery. A headstone was placed on September 5, 2020.
Main article: Lillian Richard
Lillian Richard was hired to portray Aunt Jemima in 1925, and remained in the role for 23 years. Richard was born in 1891, and grew up in the tiny community of Fouke 7 miles west of Hawkins in Wood County, Texas. In 1910, she moved to Dallas, working initially as a cook. Her job "pitching pancakes" was based in Paris, Texas. After she suffered a stroke circa 1947–1948, she returned to Fouke, where she lived until her death in 1956. Richard was honored with a Texas Historical Marker in her hometown, dedicated in her name on June 30, 2012.
Hawkins, Texas, east of Mineola, is known as the "Pancake Capital of Texas" because of longtime resident Lillian Richard. The local chamber of commerce decided to use Hawkins' connection to Aunt Jemima to boost tourism. In 1995, State Senator David Cain introduced Senate Resolution No. 73 designating Hawkins as the "Pancake Capital of Texas", which was passed into law; the measure was spearheaded by Lillian's niece, Jewell Richard-McCalla.
Anna Robinson was hired to play Aunt Jemima at the 1933 Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair. Robinson answered an open audition, and her appearance was more like the "mammy" stereotype than the slender Nancy Green. Born circa 1899, she was also from Kentucky and widowed (like Green), but in her 30s with 8 years of education. She was sent to New York City by Lord and Thomas to have her picture taken. "Never to be forgotten was the day they loaded 350 pounds of Anna Robinson on the Twentieth Century Limited."
She appeared at prestigious establishments frequented by the rich and famous, such as El Morocco, the Stork Club, "21", and the Waldorf-Astoria. Photos show Robinson making pancakes for celebrities and stars of Broadway, radio, and motion pictures. They were used in advertising "ranked among the highest read of their time". The Aunt Jemima packaging was redesigned in her likeness.
Robinson reportedly worked for the company until her death in 1951, although the work was sporadic and for mere weeks in a year. Nevertheless, this was not enough to escape the hard life into which she was born. Her $1,200 total payment in 1939 (equivalent to $22,326 in 2020) was almost the entirety of the household's annual income. The official Aunt Jemima history timeline once stated she was "able to make enough money to provide for her children and buy a 22-room house where she rents rooms to boarders". (See also the same claim for Anna Short Harrington.) According to the 1940 census, she rented an apartment in a four-flat in Washington Park with her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren.
Rosa Washington Riles
Rosa Washington Riles became the third face on Aunt Jemima packaging in the 1930s, and continued until 1948. Rosa Washington was born in 1901 near Red Oak in Brown County, Ohio, one of several children of Robert and Julie (Holliday) Washington and a granddaughter of George and Phoeba Washington. She was employed as a cook in the home of a Quaker Oats executive and began pancake demonstrations at her employer's request. She died in 1969, and is buried near her parents and grandparents in the historic Red Oak Presbyterian Church cemetery of Ripley, Ohio. An annual Aunt Jemima breakfast has been a long-time fundraiser for the cemetery, and the church maintains a collection of Aunt Jemima memorabilia.
Anna Short Harrington
Main article: Anna Short Harrington
Anna Short Harrington began her career as Aunt Jemima in 1935 and continued to play the role until 1954. She was born in 1897 in Marlboro County, South Carolina. The Short family lived on the Pegues Place plantation as sharecroppers. In 1927, she moved to Syracuse, New York. Quaker Oats discovered her cooking pancakes at the 1935 New York State Fair. Harrington died in Syracuse in 1955.
Main article: Edith Wilson (singer)
Edith Wilson became the face of Aunt Jemima on radio, television, and in personal appearances, from 1948 to 1966. Wilson was the first Aunt Jemima to appear in television commercials. She was born in 1896 in Louisville, Kentucky. Wilson was a classic blues singer and actress in Chicago, New York, and London. She appeared on radio in The Great Gildersleeve, on radio and television in Amos 'n' Andy, and on film in To Have and Have Not (1944). On March 31, 1981, she died in Chicago.
Ethel Ernestine Harper
Main article: Ethel Ernestine Harper
Ethel Ernestine Harper portrayed Aunt Jemima during the 1950s. Harper was born on September 17, 1903, in Greensboro, Alabama. Prior to the Aunt Jemima role, Harper graduated from college at the age of 17, taught elementary school for 2 years, high school mathematics for 10 years, moved to New York City where she performed in The Hot Mikado in 1939 and Harlem Cavalcade in 1942, then toured Europe during and after World War II as one of the Ginger Snaps. On March 31, 1979, she died in Morristown, New Jersey. She was the last individual model for the character's logo.
Rosie Lee Moore Hall
Rosie Lee Moore Hall portrayed Aunt Jemima from 1950 until her death in 1967. Hall was born on June 22, 1899, in Robertson County, Texas. She worked for Quaker Oats in the company's Oklahoma advertising department until she answered their search for a new Aunt Jemima. She suffered a heart attack on her way to church and died on February 12, 1967. She was buried in the family plot in the Colony Cemetery near Wheelock, Texas. Hall was the last "living" Aunt Jemima. On May 7, 1988, her grave was declared an historical landmark.
Aylene Lewis portrayed Aunt Jemima at the Disneyland Aunt Jemima's Pancake House, a popular eating place at the park on New Orleans Street in Frontierland, from 1957 until her death in 1964. Lewis became well known posing for pictures with visitors and serving pancakes to dignitaries, such as Indian Prime Minister Nehru. She also developed a close relationship with Walt Disney.
Key to the city
The Aunt Jemima character, portrayed at the time by Edith Wilson, received the Key to the City of Albion, Michigan, on January 25, 1964. Actresses portraying Aunt Jemima visited Albion, Battle Creek ("Cereal City"), and other Michigan cities many times over three decades. Grand Rapids had an Aunt Jemima's Kitchen, one of 21 locations, until it was changed to Colonial Kitchen in 1968.
The term "Aunt Jemima" is sometimes used colloquially as a female version of the derogatory epithet "Uncle Tom" or "Rastus". In this context, the slang term "Aunt Jemima" falls within the "mammy archetype" and refers to a friendly black woman who is perceived as obsequiously servile or acting in, or protective of, the interests of whites.
John Sylvester of WTDY-AM drew criticism after calling Condoleezza Rice an “Aunt Jemima” and Colin Powell an “Uncle Tom”, referring to remarks by singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte about their subservience in the George W. Bush administration. He apologized by giving away Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup.
Barry Presgraves, then 77-year-old Mayor of Luray, Virginia, was censured 5-to-1 by the town council because he referred to Kamala Harris as "Aunt Jemima" after she was selected by Joe Biden for the Democratic Party vice presidential candidate.
In popular culture
Aunt Jemima has been featured in various formats and settings throughout popular culture. Much of the attention drawn to this product in 2020 and 2021 is attributed to the decision by PepsiCo in June 2020 to rename the product, and the misrepresentation of Nancy Green's legacy, amidst heavy racial tension in the United States and around the world. Aunt Jemima has been a present image identifiable by popular culture for well over a century, dating back to Nancy Green's appearance at the 1893 World Fair in Chicago, Illinois.
Aunt Jemima, a minstrel-type variety radio program, was broadcast January 17, 1929 – June 5, 1953, at times on CBS and at other times on the Blue Network. The program had several hiatuses during the overall span."
The 1933 novel Imitation of Life by Fannie Hurst features an Aunt Jemima-type character, Delilah, a maid struggling in life with her widowed employer, Bea. Their fortunes change dramatically when Bea capitalizes on Delilah's family pancake recipe to open a pancake restaurant that attracts tourists at the Jersey Shore. It became a great success and was eventually packaged and sold as Aunt Delilah's Pancake Mix. They achieve that success due to selling flour with a smiling Delilah on the box dressed in Aunt Jemima fashion. The Academy Award-nominated 1934 film version of Imitation of Life starring Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers retains this part of the plot, which was excised from the 1959 remake of Imitation of Life starring Lana Turner and directed by Douglas Sirk.
The 1950s television show Beulah came under fire[needs context] for depicting a "mammy"-like black maid and cook who was somewhat reminiscent of Aunt Jemima.
In the 1960s, Betye Saar began collecting images of Aunt Jemima, Uncle Tom, Little Black Sambo, and other stereotyped African-American figures from folk culture and advertising of the Jim Crow era. She incorporated them into collages and assemblages, transforming them into statements of political and social protest. The Liberation of Aunt Jemima is one of her most notable works from this era. In this mixed-media assemblage, Saar utilized the stereotypical mammy figure of Aunt Jemima to subvert traditional notions of race and gender.
“Aunt Jemima's Kitchen”—named Aunt Jemima's Pancake House when it first started operating in 1955—opened in 1962 during the Civil Rights Movement as the official Aunt Jemima restaurant at Disneyland. In addition to the restaurant, a woman portraying Aunt Jemima was poised at the restaurant to take pictures with its patrons. Aunt Jemima's Kitchen also had additional locations across the United States.
Frank Zappa includes a song titled "Electric Aunt Jemima" on his 1969 album Uncle Meat. Electric Aunt Jemima was the nickname for Zappa's Standel guitar amplifier.
Faith Ringgold’s first quilt story Who's Afraid of Aunt Jemima? (1983) depicts the story of Aunt Jemima as a matriarch restaurateur: through mediums of text and imagery used to characterize Aunt Jemima in the public sphere, Ringgold represented the oppressed mammy caricature as an entrepreneur.
"Burn Hollywood Burn" on Public Enemy's 1990 Album "Fear of a Black Planet" features Big Daddy Kane commenting on the updating of racial tropes with the lyrics, "And black women in this profession / As for playin' a lawyer, out of the question / For what they play Aunt Jemima is the perfect term / Even if now she got a perm."Spike Lee's 2000 film Bamboozled features Aunt Jemima (played by Tyheesha Collins) as one of the dancing "pickaninnies" in the film's deliberately racist TV show Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show, alongside other stereotypical black antebellum South characters like Rastus.
The 2004 mockumentaryC.S.A.: The Confederate States of America features numerous depictions of Aunt Jemima-type characters as slaves (referred to as servants) in an alternate timeline in which the Confederacy won the American Civil War.
In the South Park episode "Gluten Free Ebola" (2014), Aunt Jemima appears in Eric Cartman's delirious dream to tell him that the food pyramid is upside down.
On November 7, 2020, the comedy sketch TV series Saturday Night Live featured a skit which Aunt Jemima was fired, in addition to Uncle Ben, with roles played by "Count Chocula" and the "Allstate Guy".
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Aunt Jemima brand to change name, remove image that Quaker says is 'based on a racial stereotype'
The Aunt Jemima brand of syrup and pancake mix will get a new name and image, Quaker Oats announced Wednesday, 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 picture has changed over time, and in recent years Quaker removed the "mammy" kerchief from the character to blunt growing criticism that the brand perpetuated a racist stereotype that dated to the days of slavery. Quaker, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, said removing the image and name is part of an effort by the company "to make progress toward racial equality."
"We recognize Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype," Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a news release. "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."
Kroepfl said that the company has worked to "update" the brand to be "appropriate and respectful" but that it realized the changes were insufficient.
Aunt Jemima has come under renewed criticism recently amid protests across the nation and around the world sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
People on social media called out the brand for continuing to use the image and discussed its racist history, with the topic trending on Twitter.
In a viral TikTok, a singer named KIRBY discussed the history of the brand in a video titled "How To Make A Non Racist Breakfast." She concludes the post, which has racked up hundreds of thousands of views across platforms, by saying, "Black lives matter, people, even over breakfast."
In a statement to NBC News, KIRBY said she felt "a sense of relief knowing that my future children will not grow up in a world where their ancestors' oppression is insensitively used as a marketing tool on a box."
"I hope that other brands swiftly follow suit," she added.
Hours after the Aunt Jemima announcement Wednesday, Mars Inc., which owns Uncle Ben's — a parboiled rice product that features a Black man on its packaging, which has been similarly criticized as racist — announced that "now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben's brand."
"We don't yet know what the exact changes or timing will be, but we are evaluating all possibilities," the company said.
Retiring Aunt Jemima matters because the logo is "a retrograde image of Black womanhood on store shelves," Riché Richardson, an associate professor of African American literature at Cornell University, told the "TODAY" show Wednesday. "It's an image that hearkens back to the antebellum plantation. ... Aunt Jemima is that kind of stereotype that is premised on this idea of Black inferiority and otherness."
"It is urgent to expunge our public spaces of a lot of these symbols that for some people are triggering and represent terror and abuse," Richardson said.
In a 2015 piece for The New York Times, Richardson wrote that the inspiration for the brand's name came from a minstrel song, "Old Aunt Jemima," in which white actors in blackface mocked and derided Black people.
The logo, Richardson wrote, was grounded in the stereotype of the "mammy ... a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own."
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The company's own timeline 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.
In 2015, a judge dismissed a lawsuit against the company by two men who claimed to be descendants of Anna Harrington, a Black woman who began portraying Jemima in the 1930s, saying the company hadn't properly compensated her estate with royalties.
Quaker said that the new packaging will begin to appear in the fall and that a new name will be announced later.
The company also announced that it will donate at least $5 million over the next five years "to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community."
Daina Ramey Berry, a professor of history at the University of Texas, said the decision to drop the name and the image of Aunt Jemima is significant because the brand normalized a racist depiction of Black women.
Aunt Jemima, she said, "kept Black woman in the space of domestic service," associating them with serving food under a "plantation mentality."
Berry also said it would be misguided to lament the change by Quaker as a loss of representation for Black women.
The criticism of Aunt Jemima's image, she said, "is about the representation — the stereotypical and traumatic and abusive ways in which we are represented."
Ben Kesslen is a reporter for NBC News.
Aunt Jemima brand is changing its name and removing the namesake Black character
The pancake syrup company Aunt Jemima is changing its name and imaging in the wake of renewed calls for racial equality.
The Quaker Oats-owned company said Wednesday that the iconic Aunt Jemima figure on its packaging is "based on a racial stereotype" and acknowledged that its prior work to update the character was "not enough."
"We will continue the conversation by gathering diverse perspectives from both our organization and the Black community to further evolve the brand," said Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, in a statement sent to USA TODAY. The move was reported earlier by NBC News and Adweek.
Shoppers will start to see new packaging at the grocery store without the Aunt Jemima image in the fourth quarter of this year. The company's new name for the syrup and other products will be announced soon after.
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Following the news of Aunt Jemima's future evolution, two other iconic brands, Uncle Ben's and Mrs. Butterworth's, announced that they were also looking at making changes.
Mars-owned Uncle Ben's said it plans to change the image on its rice packaging, but said in a release that it didn't yet know "what the exact changes or timing will be, but we are evaluating all possibilities."
Conagra Brands, owner of Mrs. Butterworth's, says it has "begun a complete brand and packaging review" of the syrup brand.
“The Mrs. Butterworth's brand, including its syrup packaging, is intended to evoke the images of a loving grandmother,” Conagra Brands said in a statement Wednesday. “We stand in solidarity with our Black and Brown communities and we can see that our packaging may be interpreted in a way that is wholly inconsistent with our values.”
The Aunt Jemima brand was formed in 1889 after owners Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood developed the pancake mix. The character on the box was brought together and inspired by a Black storyteller and cook named Nancy Green, according to the company's website.
More than a century later, Aunt Jemima, who is said to have been born into slavery, no longer resembles a servant from the era. Quaker Oats bought the brand in 1926, and in 1989 swapped her red bandanna for pearl earnings and soft curls.
Do Black employees matter?:Protests lead to reckoning as employees speak out on racism and discrimination at work
Still, the company's image with its Black servant origins has come under fire for perpetuating racist stereotypes.
The marketing shift comes at a time when big brands face increasing pressure to increase diversity efforts and combat racism in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The news comes one day after parent company PepsiCo announced a $400-million set of initiatives to lift up Black communities over the next five years. Part of the plan is to increase Black representation internally and to introduce mandatory training on unconscious bias.
Contributing: Kelly Tyko
Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown.
View CommentsSours: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/06/17/aunt-jemima-reportedly-change-name-remove-image-black-woman/3204562001/
Mama pancakes angie
Aunt Jemima announces new name, removes 'racial stereotypes' from product
Aunt Jemima is getting a new name, new logo and new look after announcing that it would be dropping the brand name following criticism that it featured a caricature of a Black woman that was a racist stereotype.
The new name -- Pearl Milling Company -- is an homage to the original mill built in 1888 that began making the self-rising pancake mix in 1889.
“Pearl Milling Company was a small mill in the bustling town of St. Joseph, Missouri. Using a pearl milling technique, they produced flour, cornmeal, and, beginning in 1889, the famous self-rising pancake mix that would go on to be known as Aunt Jemima,” read the company’s website in a statement announcing the change on Tuesday.
Aunt Jemima was one of the first brands to announce that it would be changing its name last June as protests unfolded across the United States in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed on May 25, 2020, when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The move set off a series of announcements from other entities like the Washington Football Team, musical groups “The Chicks” and “Lady A,” and food products such as Cream of Wheat, Mrs. Butterworth’s and Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream who announced it was dropping the brand "Eskimo Pie" after a century -- in examining the power of names.
Even the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that they will stop using nicknames of celestial bodies that are culturally insensitive.
“Last June, PepsiCo and The Quaker Oats Company made a commitment to change the name and image of Aunt Jemima, recognizing that they do not reflect our core values. While the name on the box has changed, the great tasting products – the “pearl” inside the familiar red box – remains the same,” Pearl Milling Company said in a statement.
The Aunt Jemima brand “updated its image over the years in a manner intended to remove racial stereotypes that dated back to the brand origins,” according to a statement from PepsiCo.
Aunt Jemima brand was started in 1889 by two men, Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood, and the company brought on a Black woman, Anna Robinson, to portray Aunt Jemima starting in 1933. The character was later portrayed by actress Aylene Lewis in the 1950s and 60s.
Years later in 1989, the company evolved Aunt Jemima’s image to what the company described as a “contemporary look” with pearl earrings and a lace collar.
When PepsiCo acquired the Quaker Oats Company and the Aunt Jemima brand in 2001, the company said the brand had “the goal of representing loving moms from diverse backgrounds who want the best for their families.”
Even though the company evolved and adapted, there had been plenty of calls through the years for the company to change the name of it’s product.
"This Aunt Jemima logo was an outgrowth of Old South plantation nostalgia and romance grounded in an idea about the 'mammy,' a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own," Riché Richardson, an associate professor in the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University, wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times in 2015 titled “Can We Please, Finally, Get Rid of ‘Aunt Jemima’?”. "Visually, the plantation myth portrayed her as an asexual, plump black woman wearing a headscarf."
PepsiCo said in their statement announcing the name change that Quaker worked with consumers, employees, external cultural and subject-matter experts to gather broad perspectives and ensure the new brand was developed with inclusivity in mind.
Said PepsiCo: “In the coming weeks, Pearl Milling Company will also announce the details of a $1 million commitment to empower and uplift Black girls and women, inviting the community to visit its website and nominate non-profit organizations for an opportunity to receive grants to further that mission. This is in addition to PepsiCo's more than $400 million, five-year investment to uplift Black business and communities, and increase Black representation at PepsiCo.”
The new products will be hitting store shelves this coming June and their products will continue to be available under the Aunt Jemima name without the character image until then.
These Aunt Jemima pancakes are light, fluffy, and take less than 10 minutes to make!
Top them off with a bit of warm maple syrup, a dollop of whip cream, and you’ve got a melt-in-your-mouth breakfast that the whole family will love.
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And to make things easier, there are mixes that combine all the necessary dry ingredients for you, so there’s less work and clean up in the kitchen.
Pancake mixes like Aunt Jemima make it so you have about half the ingredients to gather and measure. Plus, there’s often a recipe on the box to make it even easier to get delicious pancakes every time.
Aunt Jemima has a great pancake mix, plus a delicious recipe for banana walnut pancakes to boot. This recipe is easy, so yummy, and will have your family asking for seconds.
In fact, if you don’t show them the box, they’ll think that you made your flapjacks totally from scratch and will be asking for your recipe!
Tips & Tricks for Making the Best Pancakes
Here are some of my best tips anad tricks for making the best pancakes, whether from a box or not!
- When combining the wet and dry ingredients, don’t get too crazy with the stirring. Try to just gently fold the mixture. If you overdo the stirring, it can over-develop the gluten making your pancakes too dense and tough.
- It’s okay if there are still some lumps in the mixture. Let it rest for a minute before you start pouring on the griddle, then do one more fold over, and some of the bigger lumps will dissipate.
- If you’re really worried about lumps, you can always try sifting the pancake mix before stirring in the wet ingredients. Most experts recommend holding the sifter about 18 inches above the bowl to maximize results.
- Don’t try to make your pancakes too big, that makes them harder to flip, and there’s a chance the center won’t cook as good as the rest of the cake.
- Here’s a super secret tip I learned recently: beat your egg whites before folding them into the mixture for extra fluffy pancakes!
- Side note: some box mix recipes don’t even call for eggs, but this is an essential ingredient for perfect pancakes, so don’t leave them out.
- If your pancake mix has been sitting in your pantry for a long time, it may have lost some of its rising power. Add in a little extra baking powder to make sure your pancakes don’t get flat and boring. Use baking soda if you are using buttermilk instead of regular milk.
- Add in Vanilla or Almond Extract for a fun pop of flavor.
- You can also add in some spices such as cinnamon, pumpkin spice, or zest from your favorite citrus.
- For especially fluffy and moist pancakes, add in some Ricotta Cheese. Yum!
- Adding in mashed bananas, applesauce, or yogurt can make your pancakes a little healthier. You can also try some ground up nuts or flaxseed as a replacement for some of the flour mixture.
How to Flip The Perfect Pancake
If you’re new to pancake-making, here’s how to know when to flip your pancakes!
Watch the bubbles and the edges. The edges should be set and look a little more dry than the interior. Additionally, there should be a lot of bubbles and some should be starting to pop.
Also, resist the urge to squish your pancake with your spatula after you flip. This makes your pancakes flat. You want air in there for fluffy pancakes!
When they’re ready, quickly flick your wrist 180 degrees to one side. No need to use your whole arm. A quick flick of the wrist will do the job.
Next, just watch the other side and when it gets golden brown, you’re good to go.
Tasty Pancake Toppings
No one wants a plain pancake! Even just some butter and maple syrup will be delicious. But here’s some more unique and tasty toppings for your next pancake breakfast:
- Fresh fruit! Berries, kiwis, citrus, bananas… you really can’t go wrong with putting fresh fruit on your flapjacks.
- For a fun crunch, add in some nuts!
- Chocolate chocolate chocolate. Whether you go with Nutella or chocolate chips, pancakes taste great with a little bit of chocolate.
- To make special pancakes for the kids, try sprinkles or food coloring to make breakfast more exciting.
- If your pancakes are a little dry, you need some more syrup. Maple, caramel, chocolate, or fruity – all syrup is good to me.
- Basically any breakfast side can go on a pancake – peanut butter, yogurt, bacon, anything goes!
Can You Freeze Pancakes?
If you or your family are prone to rushed, hurried mornings, frozen pancakes can be a great solution. Simply cook your pancakes, and then freeze!
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You can either put parchment paper in between each pancake and then freeze as a stack, or you can flash freeze them on a baking sheet. Either way, make sure they are in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.
To reheat, take them out the night before to thaw, or just pop them in the microwave for a few seconds. It should be about 20 seconds for one pancake, adding 5-10 seconds more for each pancake you’re thawing/reheating.
How to Make Aunt Jemima Pancakes
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