After ignoring the racist stereotype for over 130 years, Quaker Oats — a subsidiary of PepsiCo — has announced that Aunt Jemima will no longer be the face of its pancake and syrup brand.
“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.”
Although the brand has changed over the years including the removal of the mammy caricature, which was replaced by a more socially acceptable Black female face, the message behind the brand still remained the same. TikTok user, Kirby, took to social media to give a history lesson on the origins of Aunt Jemima via a video titled “How To Make A Non Racist Breakfast.”
“Did you know the name Aunt Jemima means slave mammy of the plantation south?” she said.
Kirby also lets us in on the fact the Aunt Jemima founder, Chris Rutt, hired former slave, Nancy Green, to be Aunt Jemima. Green’s role was that of a brand ambassador where she “went around cooking pancakes and telling people stories of the good ole south.”
In 2014, two male descendants of Anna S. Harrington, the Black woman who portrayed Aunt Jemima after Green, filed a $3 billion lawsuit against PepsiCo for never properly compensating Harrington’s estate for her role in the Aunt Jemima empire, as well as stealing her pancake recipe. In 2015, a judge threw out the lawsuit.
Twitter users are chiming in suggesting that Nancy Green’s family be compensated for using her image to sell millions of dollars worth of pancakes.
@PepsiCo needs to compensate Nancy Green's family for using her image on the Aunt Jemima brand for over a 100 years. They made millions of dollars for years. PepsicCo owes her family the value of that brand image.
— Pet Wisdom for Life (@SDWisdom) June 17, 2020
The calling out of PepsiCo’s Aunt Jemima has also sparked a conversation about other major brands using Black racial stereotypes to market their product.
Quaker Oats says it will rebrand its pancake mix. However, details about updated branding and packaging have yet to be released.