Some people liked that Quaker Oats decided to rename its Aunt Jemima product line in 2020, which is known for its pancake mix and maple syrup. However, the descendants of the real woman who inspired the Brand called the change an “injustice” that only helped to erase Black history.
In reaction to “Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” NBC News reports that Quaker Oats said on June 17, 2020, that it will change the name and branding of its Aunt Jemima breakfast products. A spokesman also said:
As we try to move towards racial equality in several ways, we must carefully look at our brands to make sure they reflect our ideals and meet the needs of our customers.
In 1888, the Pearl Milling Company came out with Aunt Jemima after making pancake mix, which it said was the first “ready-mix” food. The Aunt Jemima brand’s look was based on the “mammy” image of the South. Due to its ties to the Jim Crow era, the company tried to “update” and be “appropriate and respectful” of the times.
CNN said in February 2021 that the name would be changed to Pearl Milling Company and that the iconography, which had “long been criticized as a racist caricature of a Black woman stemming from slavery,” would be taken away.
Not only did some people like what was done, but it also led other businesses to do the same thing. While Mrs. Butterworth’s changed the look of its packaging, Uncle Ben’s, a rice product with similar symbols on its packaging, announced that it would also go through a change and change its name to Ben’s Original.
Some people, though, have said that the changes don’t help the Black community and just try to erase a sad but important part of history.
The great-grandson of one of the women who played Aunt Jemima, Larnell Evans Sr., told Patch the next day that the makeover was an insult to his family’s history and the Black community.
“This isn’t fair to me and my family. This is something from my past. They show that racism is something that white people do, not black people, by showing pictures of slavery. This business gets money off of showing us in a bad light. They chose to do this by wiping out my great-grandmother’s history, a woman of colour. He said what hurt him.
How many white people grew up watching Aunt Jemima cartoons every morning with their breakfast? How many white companies made all their money and didn’t give anything back? I think they should look into it. He said they can’t just get rid of it while we suffer.
Evans said, “After making all that money, are they just going to change history as if it never happened? … They won’t have nothing to offer us, will they? What gives them the right to do this?
The first Aunt Jemima was played by Nancy Green, a cook whose family had been slaves. She was still its mascot until she died in 1923. Anna Short Harrington, Evans’s great-grandmother, and Lillian Richard, also Evans’s great-grandmother, played Aunt Jemima.
A representative for the Richard family told KLTV, “I hope we’ll take a break and not just get rid of everything. Because it is our past, whether it was good or bad. If you take that away, you take a part of me with you. a part of each one of us.