Quaker Oats is shutting down the 130 year old Aunt Jemima brand and logo, acknowledging it’s efforts have been based on a racial stereotype. The face of Aunt Jemima initially was former slave, Nancy Green. Her image portrayed a slave serving a white family (1889).
However, over time Auntie regained some momentum and removed that cotton field head thread and now sports a bright, Colgate smile with a polished, tight roller wrap.
“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”, said the Pepsi-owned company in a statement presented by CNN Business.
Back in the 1800’s, an executive of Pearl Milling Co. happened to hear a catchy tune (sung by slaves) called “Aunt Jemima”, being mocked by a blackface performer who was wearing an apron and bandana headband at the time. He named the company’s pancake mix after the song before selling the formula a year later to another milling company, which searched for a black woman to employ as the face of the product.
Black History on Aunt Jemima
Nancy Green was among the initial African Americans to promote a corporate brand when she became the first black plus sized model to portray Aunt Jemima.
Her first of many performances was with Wilmington College, when they co-hosted with a plethora of community groups, “Nancy Greeen in :Being Aunt Jemima, The Pancake Queen,” Feb 27 at 7 pm at the Murphy Theatre. The event is part of WC’s Black History Month observance.
Born in Kentucky, she was 56 years old when she became the face of Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix. Green, kind, hearty and jolly, won the hearts of everyone who came in contact with her, making her gig a hit. She promoted the pancakes at expositions by demonstrating the ease of preparing the self-rising batter and actually served thousands of pancakes.
The “Pancake Queen” was signed to a lifetime contract, as she travelled the world promoting her pancake batter until she died in a tragic car accident in 1923.
Two years later, Quaker Oats bought out the company and hired other models.
As Aunt Jemima’s logo evolves, so does their values. And that’s always a good thing. Growth looks good on you Quaker Oats, keep up the self development.