Quaker Oats has announced plans to rename its 130-year-old Aunt Jemima brand with the aim of “making progress towards racial equality”.
In a statement Wednesday (via NBC News), Quaker Oats – who bought the syrup and pancake mix brand Aunt Jemima in 1926 – admitted the brand’s racial history, which was named after the song by minstrel “Old Aunt Jemima”.
âWe recognize that Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,â said Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Oats, in a statement. âAs we strive to advance racial equality through several initiatives, we also need to carefully review our brand portfolio and ensure that they reflect our values ââand meet the expectations of our consumers. “
The new name and packaging for the breakfast products will be announced later this year, with the renamed products expected to hit supermarket shelves by fall 2020.
According to the timeline of Aunt Jemima’s website, the brand was created in 1889, but was first “given to life” by Nancy Green, who appeared as “Aunt Jemima” on the packaging; After Green’s death in 1923, other black women were featured on Aunt Jemima’s package, including Anna Harrington, actress Aylene Lewis, blues singer Edith Wilson and performer Ethel Ernestine Harper. Harrington’s surviving parents sued Quaker Oats in 2014 for royalties dating back to its appearance on the Aunt Jemima brand in the 1930s; this lawsuit was dismissed.
In recent decades, Aunt Jemima’s name and character has sparked controversy for her racial callousness and stereotypes. While PepsiCo, which bought Quaker Oats in 2001, has made some iconographic changes in recent years – including removing the “mammy” scarf, NBC News reported – many, including the late restaurateur B. Smith, have requested that the Aunt Jemima brand be changed. entirely, CNN reports.
In addition to rebranding Aunt Jemima, Quaker Oats also announced a donation of $ 5 million over the next five years to “create meaningful and ongoing support and engagement in the Black community.”
Shortly after Aunt Jemima’s announcement, Uncle Ben’s Rice – another food brand built on a racial stereotype – also revealed plans to change its image.
âAs we listen to the voices of consumers, especially in the black community, and the voices of our associates around the world, we recognize that one way to achieve this is to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its brand visual identity, âthe Rice brand owned by Mars Incorporated said in a statement (via Huffington Post).
Conagra Brands, Inc., the suppliers of Ms. Butterworth’s brand, also announced an overhaul of its packaging, which she said was originally “intended to evoke images of a loving grandmother,” in a statement. “We understand that our actions play an important role in eliminating racial prejudice and, as a result, we have begun a comprehensive review of Ms. Butterworth’s brand and packaging,” the statement continued. âIt is heartbreaking and unacceptable that racism and racial injustices exist in the world. We will be part of the solution. Let’s work together to move towards change.
Quaker Oats has announced that Aunt Jemima’s image will be removed from all packaging and the brand name will be changed. @SheinelleJones reports on the movement taking place amid rapid cultural changes in the country. pic.twitter.com/76a3hC64rM
– TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 17, 2020