Aunt Jemima to Change Name, Remove Branding After 131 Years Acknowledging ‘Racial Stereotype’
PepsiCo has announced it will be dropping the image of Aunt Jemima and rebranding the entire line of pancake mix and syrup.
The branded image of Aunt Jemima has been around since 1889, but PepsiCo says that changes are coming in the fourth quarter of 2020 and a new name will be announced at a later date. Vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods of North America Kristin Kroepfl said this is just a start for the company.
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.
The aftermath of the death of George Floyd while in police custody has caused many brands to look inward as protests against racial injustice and demands for systemic change continue with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Quaker Oats has acknowledged that Aunt Jemima's "origins are based on a racial stereotype" despite their attempts to update the brand with the intention to be more "appropriate and respectful."
we realize those changes are not enough.
The Aunt Jemima brand goes back 131 years and is one of the last remaining "brand mascots" with ties to the nostalgia of slavery.
The Aunt Jemima website notes that the character first appeared in 1890 "portrayed by Nancy Green" who is described as
a storyteller, cook and missionary worker.
This is a major change for a brand that has been reluctant to answer the call to drop the controversial mascot, standing behind the defense that their portrayal of the Aunt Jemima image was "wholesome."
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.
Ironically, The Onion released this satirical article last Friday though it is not clear if their story had any influence on the ultimate decision from PepsiCo.
PepsiCo has also announced the Aunt Jemima brand will donate at least $5 million toward "meaningful" change in support of the Black community over the next five years.