Aunt Jemima, the pancake syrup company, is changing its name and imaging due to the renewed calls for racial equality.
On Wednesday, June 17, 2020, the company announced that the iconic Aunt Jemima figure is “based on a racial stereotype.” The Quaker Oats-owned company also acknowledged that is previous 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,” according to Kristin Kroepfl, who is the vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America.
In the fourth quarter of this year, consumers will begin to see new packaging without the Aunt Jemima image. Soon after, the new name for the syrup will be announced.
The Aunt Jemima brand was formed by Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood in 1889. The character on the box of pancake mix was inspired by a black storyteller and cook named Nancy Green. This information is on the company website.
It has been more than a century and Aunt Jemima, who is said to have been born into slavery, no longer resembles a servant from that time period. In 1962, Quaker Oats purchased the brand and in 1989, they exchanged Aunt Jemima’s red bandana for pearls and soft curls.
This shift in marketing comes while big brands are facing increasing pressure to increase diversity efforts and fight racism.
The Quaker Oats news comes the day after PepsiCo announced a $400 million initiative to lift up black communities over the next five years. Part of the initiative will increase black representation internally and introduce mandatory unconscious bias training.
By Jeanette Vietti
USA Today: Aunt Jemima brand is changing its name and removing the namesake Black character
NBC: Aunt Jemima brand to change name, remove image that Quaker says is ‘based on a racial stereotype’
CNN: The Aunt Jemima brand, acknowledging its racist past, will be retired
Featured Image Courtesy of Mike Mozart’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Top Image Courtesy of Mike Mozart’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License