Aunt Jemima, the iconic brand of pancake mix and syrup, has gone through various image makeovers over the years to change the clothing and appearance of the black woman synonymous with the brand. Now, Aunt Jemima has been rebranded as “Pearl Milling Company,” PepsiCo, which owns Quaker Oats, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Pearl Milling Company-branded pancake mixes, syrups, cornmeal, flour, and grits products will start to arrive in market in June 2021,” the statement said. “Products will continue to be available under the Aunt Jemima name without the character image until June.”
The company sought to say the change was a return to the product’s roots.
“Though new to store shelves, Pearl Milling Company was founded in 1888 in St. Joseph, Missouri, and was the originator of the iconic self-rising pancake mix that would later become known as Aunt Jemima,” the statement said.
“The Quaker Oats Company signed the contract to purchase the Aunt Jemima brand in 1925. It updated its image over the years in a manner intended to remove racial stereotypes that dated back to the brand origins. In June 2020, the company announced it was transitioning from the Aunt Jemima name and likeness on packaging and pledged a $5 million commitment to support the Black community.”
But to many, the change is a mistake.
Cancel culture needs to be canceled… bring Aunt Jemima back ASAP https://t.co/OlK6RJOfUo
— Sebastião Moraginho (@SebMoraga1896) February 10, 2021
— DarrenM68 aka Mr H (@Darrenm68) February 10, 2021
I’m not buying it ? https://t.co/mrNXCjIXmn
— Karlous (@KarlousM) February 9, 2021
— Irma??♀️?? (@tangled30) February 10, 2021
I’m still calling the syrup Aunt Jemima
— ?Shay-Boogie?? (@HeartBreakSeun) February 10, 2021
The statement said the new name was developed by working with “consumers, employees, external cultural and subject-matter experts, and diverse agency partners to gather broad perspectives and ensure the new brand was developed with inclusivity in mind.”
The statement added that Pearl Milling Company will soon announce “a $1 million commitment to empower and uplift Black girls and women, inviting the community to visit its website and nominate non-profit organizations for an opportunity to receive grants to further that mission.”
The company announced last year it would eliminate the Aunt Jemima brand name.
“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,” Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a news release.
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype. 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,” she said.
“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. “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.”
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