Quaker Oats dropped a bombshell on all of us this week when they talked about the logo and name of their Aunt Jemima brand. NBC News is reporting that they say that its “origins are based on a racial stereotype,” so they are making a change.
Kristin Kroepfl, the president and chief marketing officer of Quaker foods North America commented in a press release saying: “We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype.” She continued, “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.”
The packaging for the product will be different from this point forward, including the pancake mix and syrups. You can expect to see the changes starting in the fall of 2020 but a new name has not been announced as of yet by the brand. At least $5 million will also be donated by Quaker over the next five years to “create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community.”
The fact that Quaker has been criticized for the brand name and logo is nothing new. Nancy Greene originally brought to life the brand, a woman described as a “storyteller, cook, and missionary worker.” It was also reported by NBC that she had enslaved people as well. Aunt Jemima was shown in the style of a “mammy” when she was first created. A number of updates have happened over the years, including the removal of the kerchief around her head in 1989. She now has a pearl earring.
The associate professor in the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University, Riché Richardson reported in The New York Times in 2015 and called for the removal of the logo. She also talked about the name of the brand, which was derived from a minstrel song, “Old Aunt Jemima.”
“It is about time for there to be some honest conversation about what is at stake in continuing to market products even nowadays under names such as ‘Aunt Jemima,’” she concluded.
“It is urgent to expunge public spaces of a lot of these symbols that for some people are triggering and represent terror and abuse,” she told them.