Aunt Jemima, a “southern mammy” stereotype dating back to the 1800’s is going to be removed from the popular brand of pancake mixes and syrups according to Quaker Oats and Pepsi Co., owner of the brand. The popular brand has been associated with deep south racism by opponents for decades by its detractors. Originally Aunt Jemima’s representation was an homage to represent deep south hospitality created by the company, but since then it has been used in modern culture to mock black women in the same vein as “Uncle Tom” often mocks black men. Aunt Jemima is now referenced as a black female “mammy” who cooked home-cooked meals for the white people she worked for.
The brand has been questioned for decades for its insensitivity towards the African-American community and today most people in America heralded the decision to change. Although a beloved brand in our nation, you can’t deny the ugliness of the undertones of the branding.
Some memes and social media posts reference Aunt Jemima’s connection to slavery, but the brand was trademarked in 1893, long after slavery was abolished in the United States.
“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,”
Initially, Aunt Jemima was portrayed as the wife of Rastus, later renamed Uncle Mose. They had five children, Abraham, Lincoln, Dilsie, Zeb and Dinah. The family was always portrayed barefoot and in tattered clothing. Over the years, the company gave Aunt Jemima several makeovers and she even lost weight, to the representation she is today.
A video on Tik-Tok went viral this week and many feel it was this video that was the inspiration for the revival of the anti-Aunt Jemima movement.
Another viral post on social media claims Aunt Jemima was a real person, but it was actually the brainchild of Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood in 1888. In 1890, the company hired Nancy Green as its spokesperson and Ms. Green played the role of Aunt Jemima until her death in 1923. She was born a slave in Montgomery, Kentucky.
The brand is expected to be replaced by the fall of this year.