Quaker Oats Will Finally Change Aunt Jemima’s Name and Branding Over Racist Origins

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By Cooking Panda

 The Quaker Oats Company, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, announced in a news release that it will rebrand the Aunt Jemima syrup and baking mix line after acknowledging how the brand is “based on a racial stereotype.” The 131-year-old Aunt Jemima brand will have its name and image completely redone on all packaging. Packaging without the Aunt Jemima image will appear in stores this fall.

“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,” Kristin Kroepfl, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Quaker Foods North America said in the release. “While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough.”

 

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A quick history lesson

In 1889, Aunt Jemima founders, Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood, invented a self-rising pancake flour mix. They decided to name their brand “Aunt Jemima” after watching a minstrel show where a white man dressed in blackface danced around to a Southern song called “Old Aunt Jemima.” According to Scientific American, the brand even hired a former slave to portray Aunt Jemima in appearances while romanticizing Southern plantation roots. Their target consumer? The white housewife.

“Aunt Jemima” Evolves

The brand has since gone through several redesigns over the past century “with the goal of representing loving moms from diverse backgrounds who want the best for their families,” Quaker Oats wrote in their release. According to the New York Times, the lace collar and pearl earrings were added in 1989. But the “Aunt Jemima” brand and its amplification of the “mammy” stereotype has been scrutinized by civil rights activists for decades. The Black Lives Matter movement has recently shed more light on the brand’s origins. 

“We will continue the conversation by gathering diverse perspectives from both our organization and the Black community to further evolve the brand and make it one everyone can be proud to have in their pantry,” Kroepfl said in the release.

According to the release, PepsiCo will also donate a minimum of $5 million over the next five years to “create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community.” It will also dedicate “a more than $400 million set of initiatives over the next five years to lift up Black communities and increase Black representation at PepsiCo” and hopefully make lasting systemic change. 

Main photo credit: Flickr user Mike Mozart: https://flic.kr/p/oHocWF, The Quaker Oats Company

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