Aunt Jemima, the syrup and pancake mix brand founded in 1889, is now facing a renovation by parent-company Quaker Oats in an effort “to make progress towards racial equality.”
NBC News reports both the name and the iconic logo will be changed amid protests across the United States spurred by the death of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks.
From the report:
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.
Quaker Foods North America Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Kristin Kroepfl said the company is taking “several initiatives” to revamp their brand.
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” Kroepfl said. “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.”
"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." https://t.co/TynsrB0Ksh
— Nick McGill (@NickMcGillTV) June 17, 2020
People are supporting the change as Aunt Jemima is “a retrograde image of Black womanhood on store shelves,” Cornell University associate professor Riché Richardson said during a segment on the “TODAY” show on Wednesday.
“It’s an image that harkens back to the antebellum plantation … Aunt Jemima is that kind of stereotype is premised on this idea of Black inferiority and otherness,” he continued.
“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 added.
USA Today reports customers will see a change in the packaging later this year:
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.
The 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.
Still, the company’s image with its Black servant origins has come under fire for perpetuating racist stereotypes.