The protests against George Floyd’s killing and the Black Lives Matter movement last year spurred the brand to relook at its racist stereotype association.
Aunt Jemima, a brand of pancake mix and syrups, is no more. No, the Quaker Oats-owned brand has not been discontinued. Instead, it has been rebranded as the Pearl Milling Company.
PepsiCo, the American multination company that owns Quaker Oats, announced the move on February 9 (Tuesday).
The Pearl Milling Company was founded in 1888 in St. Joseph, Missouri, and as per PepsiCo, it was the originator of the iconic self-rising pancake mix that would later become known as Aunt Jemima.
The Pearl Milling Company branded products will hit the markets in June 2021. It will offer people all their favourite pancake mix and syrup varieties in the same familiar red packaging previously found under the Aunt Jemima brand. The products will continue to be available under the Aunt Jemima name, without the character image, until June.
Adding to this, the Pearl Milling Company has committed $1 million to empower Black girls and women. This is in addition to a five-year investment of over $400 million to uplift Black businesses and communities, and increase Black representation at PepsiCo, said the company.
It was in June last year that PepsiCo announced it would change the name and logo of the Aunt Jemima line. The smiling Black woman had become a staple at most American breakfast tables.
The killing of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer last year spurred protests across the United States over racial inequality. Various companies were compelled to look towards their brands over any linkages to racist tones and dark history of slavery in the country. 2020 was the year of the Black Lives Matter movement.
As per The New York Times, “The Aunt Jemima character has roots in a 19th-century minstrel song that expressed nostalgia for the antebellum South. (A period in the history of the southern United States from the late 18th century until the start of the American Civil War in 1861. Slavery was dominant during this time.)
On its website last year, PepsiCo said, “Aunt Jemima has existed for more than 130 years, and we acknowledge that our origins were based on a racial stereotype. While work has been done over the years to evolve our brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realise that those changes are not enough.”
In July last year, the Washington Redskins, an NFL team, dropped ‘Redskins’ from its name following sponsor pressure. The 'Redskins' is considered a racial slur against Native Americans. Please note that the pressure was on the team for over two decades. The Black Lives Matter acted as the catalyst.