Aunt Jemima Is Getting A New Name & Image As Brand Acknowledges Racist Past + Uncle Ben’s Will ‘Evolve’
After 130 years, Quaker Oats is getting rid of the Aunt Jemima brand of syrup and pancake mix, and the brand will get a new name and image. Quaker Oats announced Wednesday, (June 17) that the company recognizes that “Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype.”
The Aunt Jemima character was first manifested by Nancy Green, a Black woman who was formerly enslaved and became the face of the product in 1890.
The company is reportedly working to “update the brand to be appropriate and respectful.” Following the death of George Floyd, social media has called out the brand for continuing to use the image along with its racist history, the hashtag #AuntJemima began trending on Twitter.
The brand logo features a black woman named Aunt Jemima, who was originally dressed as a minstrel character. The picture has changed over time, with Quaker removing the “mammy” kerchief from the character, that perpetuated a racist stereotype dating back to the days of slavery. Quaker, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, said that its decision to remove the image and name is an effort “to make progress toward racial equality.” ” Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a press release,
“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.”
TikTok user and singer Kirby, gave a background of the history of the brand in her “How To Make A Non Racist Breakfast” video, saying “black lives matter, people, even over breakfast.”
Riché Richardson, an associate professor at Cornell University, told the “TODAY” show,
“It’s an image that harkens 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,” She added.
The company also announced it will donate at least $5 million over the next five years “to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community.”
The owner of the Uncle Ben‘s brand of rice says the brand will also “evolve” in response to concerns about racial stereotyping and the outpouring response to Aunt Jemima’s brand redesign.
Its owner Mars said in a statement,
Now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do. We don’t yet know what the exact changes and timing will be, but we are evaluating all possibilities.
What are your thoughts Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s Rice changes? Let us know in the comments.