Aunt Jemima No More; Renamed Pearl Milling Company by Pancake Brand
For an old, aggressive brand, Quaker Oats cooked up a new picture Tuesday. PepsiCo Inc., Quaker Oats' parent company, announced it was rebranding Aunt Jemima, the famous brand of pancake and syrup, removing the racial stereotype used for the image of the product.
In June, one full year after the company first revealed plans to do away with the Aunt Jemima brand, PepsiCo will replace Aunt Jemima with the Pearl Milling Company.
In the wake of demonstrations against racial injustice and police violence in the U.S. last summer, Aunt Jemima and other food brands, including Uncle Ben's, Cream of Wheat, and Mrs. Butterworth's, revealed redesigns. But calls to eliminate the imagery of Aunt Jemima, and others like it, were made well before last year's public pressure was embraced by businesses.
As a picture harkening back to slavery, Aunt Jemima has been criticized. Old Aunt Jemima emerged as a song that was later performed at minstrel shows by field slaves. Nancy Green, who was born into slavery, played the original Aunt Jemima character. Quaker Oats paid Green to fly and sell costume pieces for Aunt Jemima.
Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben's were also criticized for depending on the names of aunt and uncle, which were traditionally used by individuals who declined to extend the honorary Mr. or Ms. to a Black person.
Uncle Ben's logo was of an elderly black man, originally wearing a servant's evocative bow tie. In September, Mars, Incorporated announced the elimination of Uncle Ben's name and logo and the renaming of the rice brand as Ben's Original.
Pearl Milling Company Root
The Pearl Milling Company was founded in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1888, and it produced the self-rising pancake mix that became known as Aunt Jemima, according to a PepsiCo statement. In 1925, Quaker Oats purchased the Aunt Jemima brand.
The red and yellow packaging used on boxes and bottles of Aunt Jemima will be preserved by Pearl Milling Company. PepsiCo says that until June, its products will continue to be available under the name Aunt Jemima without the character image.
The firm said that Pearl Milling Company would also reveal details of a $1 million pledge in the coming weeks to empower and uplift black girls and women. In addition to PepsiCo's $400 million, the contribution is a five-year pledge to advance and uplift Black businesses and communities, the organization said.