The Aunt Jemima brand of syrup and pancake mix is going through some changes. The 130-year-old brand will get a new name and image by the end of 2020 recognizing the brand’s origins rooted in a racial stereotype. The Quaker Oats Company is retiring the name to “make progress toward racial equality” as well as donating at least 5 million dollars in the next five years in support.
The history of Aunt Jemima
Aunt Jemima is based on a real woman her name was Nacy Green. She was born into slavery in 1834 in Montgomery County, Kentucky. She was a storyteller, magnificent cook, and first of many African-American models hired to promote a corporate trademark as “Aunt Jemima” the very first pancake ready mix. While the famous internationally known mix is not her recipe her advertising skills made flour sales skyrocket. She was hired to play the role and spokesperson for the brand. She sold many boxes at exhibits winning people over with her warmth and friendly demeanor not to mention her cooking! She worked for the company till 1923
How the Name came to be :
In a 2015 piece for The New York Times, Richardson wrote that the inspiration for the brand’s name came from a minstrel song, “Old Aunt Jemima,” in which white actors in blackface mocked and derided Black people. Aunt Jemima meant any black woman, sometimes described as a “mammy”, who worked for white people as a servant. The term sent the message of how great the plantation life was to have an “Aunt Jemima” to make you whatever you wanted.
After the series of protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd large corporations are taking initiatives to express that they stand with the Black Lives Matter movement. As a global brand, they will take the necessary steps in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices. They understand their marketing tools from the past no longer aligns with the future and their moral values and views today.