It looks like one popular pancake mix and syrup brand is finally on its way to extinction.
According to NBC News, on Wednesday (June 17), Quaker Oats, the company that makes Aunt Jemima, announced that after 131 years, they are rebranding the line by giving it a brand new name and a new image.
“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 press 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.”
As NBC pointed out, Kroepfl admitted that while over the years Quaker Oats worked to “update” the brand to be more “appropriate and respectful—by changing the slave imagery to a more modern Black granny—they realized those efforts just weren’t enough.
In case you need a quick history lesson, the Aunt Jemima brand debuted in 1889 and was clearly based on the racist caricature of the Mammy—a Black woman usually portrayed as a dark-skinned “obese, coarse, maternal figure” who had a “great love for her white ‘family,” says the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia in Big Rapids, Michigan.
It doesn’t surprise me that in the wake of recent Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others, along with a public reckoning and dragging of numerous companies, that Aunt Jemima finally came under fire. Because as we know, no one is exempt.
Over the weekend, a slew of Black content creators on TikTok and Twitter calling out the company for its legacy of using this type of racist imagery, including @SingKirbysing who created this viral video.
Aunt Jemima isn’t the only brand making a change. Mars Inc, the company behind Uncle Ben’s, also announced today that they are rebranding as well, Reuters reported.
“As a global brand, we know we have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices,” a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
“We recognize that one way we can do this is by evolving the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity.”
“We don’t yet know what the exact changes or timing will be, but we are evaluating all possibilities.”
Listen, while I’ve seen a few Black folks on Twitter say that erasing these brands’ imagery is “dumb,” this move, like HBO Max temporarily removing Gone With The Wind from its lineup, makes total sense and is necessary. There is no value to this type of problematic imagery that has always been rooted in white supremacy.
Remember, that not all representation of Black women is good for us and it’s OK to demand more in how we want to be seen, even when it’s “just” a bottle of syrup. Because we all know it’s never just a bottle of syrup.
BEAUTIES: Do you agree with Quaker Oats removing the Aunt Jemima name and imagery from its brand?