Kristin Kroepfl, Director of Marketing for Quaker Oats, said in a statement Wednesday: âWhile work has been done over the years to update the brand in a proper and respectful manner, we realize these changes are not enough. not.”
Nancy Green, who played Aunt Jemima at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, was born into slavery in Kentucky in 1834. In magazine ads for much of the 20th century, some by artist NC Wyeth, the character was shown in the service of white families. From 1955 to 1970, Disneyland had an Aunt Jemima restaurant. It featured an actress in a plaid dress, apron and scarf who served food, sang and posed for photos with patrons, according to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia in Michigan. .
Black artists, including Joe Overstreet and Betye Saar, have challenged the character for decades. Mr. Overstreet painted Aunt Jemima wielding a machine gun in 1964 and created an enlarged version of the work, called “New Jemima”, in 1970. Ms. Saar’s multimedia sculpture in 1972, “The Liberation of Aunt Jemima”, has presented a “mammy” figurine armed with a rifle and a hand grenade against the backdrop of repeated images of Aunt Jemima’s face.
In 1980, in a commentary for National Public Radio, black writer and food historian Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor asked Quaker Oats to remove the character.
Other food brands, including Cream of Wheat, Land O’Lakes and Uncle Ben’s, have marketed themselves in the last century with racist stereotypes.
After the Quaker Oats announcement on Wednesday, food and candy giant Mars, owner of Uncle Ben’s, said it was “evaluating all possibilities” regarding the brand. Mars said he did not yet know what changes he would make or when they would take effect, but added he had a responsibility “to take a stand to help end racial prejudice and injustice.”
Also on Wednesday, the syrup brand Mrs. Butterworth’s said she was embarking on “a full brand and packaging review” after recognizing that her bottle, which is “meant to evoke images of a loving grandmother,” could “be interpreted as” a way that is totally incompatible with our values. The brand, owned by ConAgra Foods, said “it is heartbreaking and unacceptable that racism and racial injustices exist in the world” and pledged to “be part of the solution”.