The Quaker Oats Company will permanently pull its Aunt Jemima brand of syrup and pancake mix for promoting a “racial stereotype” and will also donate $5 million to the black community.
Civil unrest following the death George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis has sent much of corporate America scrambling to align itself with protestors.
The decision to end Aunt Jemima’s more than 130-year reign as a kitchen and breakfast staple comes after the brand was targeted by cancel culture activists on Twitter and other social media platforms Tuesday.
The brand was accused of promoting racism and for perpetuating stereotypes about slavery and black Americans. According to NBC News, Aunt Jemima was originally dressed as a minstrel character.
— KIRBY (@singkirbysing) June 15, 2020
Wait are people seriously just learning that Aunt Jemima is racist? Be sure you check out Uncle Ben’s and Cream of Wheat too. The brands have been profiteering off of racist tropes for over a century.
— Christina Warren (@film_girl) June 17, 2020
The secret ingredient in Aunt Jemima syrup is racism
— Connor Shaw (@Curlyshaw) June 17, 2020
Quaker Oats, a Chicago-based company, made the announcement to cancel Aunt Jemima Wednesday, and stated the products will be given a new look and a new name.
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” Kristin Kroepfl, the Quaker Foods North America vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a media release.
Noting there have been a number of changes to Aunt Jemima’s logo over the decades, the company executive further stated that those changes did not do enough to promote racial unity.
“While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough.”
“We are starting by removing the image and changing the name,” Kroepfl said.
“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.”
Kroepfl said Quaker’s breakfast syrup brand was standing in the way of racial progress and does not reflect the values of the company, which is owned by PepsiCo.
“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.
The Aunt Jemima name and likeness will be removed and replaced by this fall.
According to the media release, over the next five years, the Aunt Jemima brand will donate $5 million to “create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community.”
That is in addition to the $400 million pledged by Pepsi this week to support black causes.
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