“We acknowledge the brand has not progressed enough to appropriately reflect the confidence, warmth, and dignity that we would like it to stand for today,” Kristin Kroepfl, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a news release.
Famous pancake syrup brand Aunt Jemima is all set to give their name and image a makeover amid public outcry that the branding was a racial stereotype. The parent company, Quaker Oats, addressed that they recognize that "Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype," according to NBC News. It was announced that the controversial image of Aunt Jemima will be removed from its line of maple syrups, pancake mixes, and other foods by the end of 2020, and that the name change will happen at a later date. The 130-year-old brand features a Black woman on the packaging dressed as a minstrel character.
Although the picture has changed over time, Quaker, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, said their plan to remove the image and name is part of an effort by the company "to make progress toward racial equality." "We recognize Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype," Kristin Kroepfl, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a news release. "As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers' expectations." Kroepfl then added that the company has been working to "update" the brand to be "appropriate and respectful" but that it realized the changes were inadequate.
“We acknowledge the brand has not progressed enough to appropriately reflect the confidence, warmth, and dignity that we would like it to stand for today,” Kroepfl said, as per TODAY. “We are starting by removing the image and changing the name. We will continue the conversation by gathering diverse perspectives from both our organization and the Black community to further evolve the brand and make it one everyone can be proud to have in their pantry.” According to the official website, Aunt Jemina was first "brought to life" by Nancy Green. Green was born into slavery in 1834 R.T. Davis (the brand's owner at the time) used her likeness to represent the pancake mix into the early 1900s. “
Aunt Jemima advertising played on a certain type of racist nostalgia, "particularly in the first half of the 20th century about how great plantation life was and how great it was to literally, to have someone like Aunt Jemima who would make the pancakes or whatever for you,” Maurice Manring, author of Slave in a Box: The Strange Career of Aunt Jemima, explained in a 2019 interview with NPR. “When you look at old Aunt Jemima ads, you see constantly at a time when middle-class housewives were not able to employ servants, they weren't able to employ their black maid as easily as they did in previous decades, you see constant notation in the ads that you can't have Aunt Jemima today but you can have her recipe and that's the next best thing.”
JUST IN | After 131 years, PepsiCo is retiring the controversial brand name and mascot, Aunt Jemima, acknowledging that the brand is based on a racial stereotype. https://t.co/SVQDJ62oPv pic.twitter.com/72XFuYOh9R— Adweek (@Adweek) June 17, 2020
The whole thing was probably set into motion after a woman's TikTok went viral. The woman, named KIRBY, spoke about the history of the brand in a video titled "How To Make A Non Racist Breakfast." She concluded the post by saying, "Black lives matter, people, even over breakfast." After Quaker Oats made the decision to change the image and the name, KIRBY said she felt "a sense of relief knowing that my future children will not grow up in a world where their ancestors' oppression is insensitively used as a marketing tool on a box." "I hope that other brands swiftly follow suit," she added.