So long, Aunt Jemima!
Yesterday (Feb. 9), PepsiCo, Inc. announced the debut of Pearl Milling Company, reports PR Newswire.
Despite the name change, the beloved pancake mix and syrup varieties will keep the familiar red packaging and will remain on shelves under the Aunt Jemima name, minus the character image, until June.
While Pearl Milling Company is new to store shelves, it was founded in 1888 in St. Joseph and is responsible for the iconic self-rising pancake mix that later became known to the world as Aunt Jemima.
The Quaker Oats Company purchased the Aunt Jemima brand in 1925 and over the years has updated its image to remove racial stereotypes that dated back to the brand’s origins.
In June 2020, the company announced its transition from the Aunt Jemima name and likeness as a whole and pledged a $5 million commitment to support the Black community.
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins based on a racial stereotype,” said the company in a past 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.”
The brand was called out after a TikTok user used her platform to give a history lesson on the origins of Aunt Jemima.
She shared facts about Aunt Jemima’s founder, Chris Rutt, and how he hired a former slave by the name of Nancy Green to be Aunt Jemima.
The TikToker claimed, as a brand ambassador, Green “went around cooking pancakes and telling people stories of the good ole south.”
After news surfaced that Green nor her family were ever properly compensated for her role in the Aunt Jemima empire, along with the fact that they stole her recipe, Twitter users called out the brand and in turn sparked a conversation about other brands, such as Uncle Ben’s, that used Black racial stereotypes to market products.
In addition to the rebrand, the Pearl Milling Company also announced a $1 million pledge to uplifting Black girls and women, according to a press release.
Pearl Milling Company’s syrups, cornmeal, flour, pancake mixes, and grits will begin to hit shelves starting June 2021.