Aunt Jemima changes name and branding after coming clean about racist history
18 June 2020, 17:19
The Aunt Jemima name actually stems from a racist stereotype that originated in minstrel shows.
As conversations about race continue, brands are now becoming hyper aware of their history. Case in point, pancake and syrup brand Aunt Jemima, who announced they would be changing the company name and image because of its racist roots.
"We recognise Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype," Kristin Kroepfl, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Quaker Oats (its parent company), said in a statement. "While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realise those changes are not enough."
Consumers will see the changes in stores from the end of the year. It is not yet known what the new packaging will look like, or what the new brand name will be.
What is the racist meaning behind Aunt Jemima?
Before the announcement a viral TikTok video from user @singkirbysing broke down Aunt Jemima's racist roots.
The Aunt Jemima character originated from the late-1800s minstrel shows, in which white performers would wear blackface and play being Black for entertainment.
Aunt Jemima was based on the racist caricature of a black woman known as "mammy", a maternal figure or maid in a white household, stemming from slavery. The first model hired to portray Aunt Jemima was Nancy Green, a formerly enslaved woman.
In 1989, the brand overhauled its design, removing Aunt Jemima's bandana (which was synonymous with the mammy stereotype) and gave her pearl earrings and a lace collar.
Kirby explains this and ends her TikTok video by chucking a box of Aunt Jemima pancake mix down the sink, saying: "Black lives matter, people... even over breakfast."
There’s a book written about this called “Slave in a Box: The Strange Career of Aunt Jemima”— KAYA NOVA (@thekayanova) June 17, 2020
The Mammy stereotype was often the most “acceptable” way white people interacted with black people. They trusted BW to fix & take care of everything. Thus Jemima worked to sell a product
Following on from that, the parent company for Uncle Ben's rice – whose logo is a Black rice farmer – announced that they would also be evolving "the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity". Uncle Ben's were not clear what the changes will be but they are "evaluating all possibilities".
Now, who's going to replace Aunt Jemima, you ask? Well, Twitter has some suggestions.
Y’all took the aunt Karen rebranding too far pic.twitter.com/pJgveILcrn— Brian Blake (@BrianOBlake) June 17, 2020
so now twitter decided to rebrand Aunt Jemima to Aunt Karen, and I'm done!! 🤦♂️😷 pic.twitter.com/QCsWiKPr9G— Ricky (@AniRhythm) June 17, 2020
First look at the new Aunt Karen pancakes logo pic.twitter.com/ukuWvXf2iV— Brian Blake (@BrianOBlake) June 17, 2020