Quaker Oats, the owner of the 131-year-old brand, said it would retire the name as it worked “to make progress toward racial equality.”
The Aunt Jemima character has roots in a 19th-century minstrel song that expressed nostalgia for the antebellum South.Credit...Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
By Tiffany Hsu
For decades, Quaker Oats knew that one of its major brands, Aunt Jemima, was built on racist imagery. The company inched toward fixing the problem over the years, replacing the kerchief on the Aunt Jemima character’s head with a plaid headband in 1968, and adding pearl earrings and a lace collar in 1989. But it was not until Wednesday that Quaker Oats announced it would drop the Aunt Jemima name and change the packaging.
The decision to remake the pancake-mix and syrup brand, which was founded in 1889, came as widespread protests against racism have reverberated throughout the country, leading to changes in the corporate world and the toppling of statues depicting Confederate leaders.
Quaker Oats, which has been owned by PepsiCo since 2001, announced its decision on Aunt Jemima days after a TikTok video describing the brand’s history was shared widely on social media. In retiring the name and character, the company acknowledged that Aunt Jemima’s origins were “based on a racial stereotype.”
In a statement, the company said it was working “to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives.” The packaging changes will appear toward the end of the year, with the name change to follow. Read more >>