Racism isn’t anything new. However, people are insistent on finding it in the most random of places, including on the breakfast table. For people who love pancakes, Aunt Jemima has been synonymous with delicious syrup and pancake mix. That’s it.
Quaker Oats has decided that Aunt Jemima has to go. The logo is reportedly based on a song of “Old Aunt Jemima,” which was sung by slaves. The logo has been in place since 1890, and on the website, it tells of a story of Nancy Green who was a “storyteller, cook and missionary worker.” There was no mention of her being a slave.
She’s black, however, so it’s only assumed that she was a slave. That, in itself, is a racist thought.
So, rather than allowing the black character to continue serving up breakfast, Quaker Oats has decided that they need to be “appropriate and respectful” when updating the brand. Years ago, they modernized the brand to get rid of the “mammy” kerchief.
They even stopped running their “racist” ads decades ago, where actresses personified the “mammy” stereotype.
What’s going to happen to the brand? The same product will continue to be manufactured. However, both the name of Aunt Jemima and her likeness will be removed. That should make Black Lives Matter. Or, perhaps, it will incite even more riots because, if black lives mattered, shouldn’t they want to have Aunt Jemima immortalized on breakfast syrup forever?
Aunt Jemima’s appearance has evolved over time. The brand’s origin and logo is based off the song “Old Aunt Jemima” from a minstrel show performer and reportedly sung by slaves. The company’s website said the logo started in 1890 and was based on Nancy Green, a “storyteller, cook and missionary worker.” However, the website fails to mention Green was born into slavery.
Richardson said the Aunt Jemima logo is based on a “‘mammy,’ a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own.” A statue of a slave mammy stereotype was approved by the US Senate in 1923, but it was never built.
The company also ran racist ads for several decades, with actresses personifying the mammy stereotype. It evolved the logo over the years, and even hired singer Gladys Knight as a spokeswoman in the 1990s.
Quaker Oats has already announced that they will be working to redesign the brand. What it will be called or what the logo will contain is unknown right now. It’s simply said that the new branding will be out around the fourth quarter of this year.
As for what’s on the shelves, it’s the last of the last. And, people who have already heard that the brand is going away is making a run for it. After all, it could be at least a few months before the syrup makes it back onto the shelves – and if Aunt Jemima’s motherly smiling face isn’t on the bottle, is it really going to taste the same.
While breakfast foodies prepare to say goodbye to Aunt Jemima forever, there are a few other pantry items that are going away because of cultural inappropriation, too.
— The Onion (@TheOnion) June 17, 2020
If you haven’t heard, Land O’ Lakes Butter is doing away with the Indian on the front. Because…we can’t have a logo that contains a bit of history without making it out to be the very worst. Except, Native Indians weren’t offended. Where were their riots in the street to see the butter label addressed? Wait…they didn’t care.
Uncle Ben is next. And you know Mrs. Butterworth can’t stay around for too much longer, either.
Between Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, they were our favorite aunt and uncle. They were extended family. They’ve graced the table for decades. Now, it’s going to hurt a bit to see them go. It’s as if we need a funeral to say our proper goodbyes. They came for our statues and we stayed silent. Now, they’re coming for our breakfast syrup and our rice pilaf…and we’re still not supposed to say anything? When will this end?
Oh, but the Aunt Jemima brand has made sure that they’re being as appropriate as possible while they work to find a new logo. They’re also donating $5 million towards engaging with the black community. Meanwhile, The Onion has suggested a logo change of a “black female lawyer who enjoys pancakes sometimes.”
It might be time to give up on pancakes. With both Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth on the chopping block, what’s left? Log Cabin? Yeah, like that will get to stay around much longer. Those were probably built by slaves, so it’s only a year or two before they come for that brand. Breakfast burritos might be the safer option at this point. So long, Aunt Jemima, and thanks for the memories.