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Aunt Jemima’s rebrand to Pearl Milling Company is a step in the right direction

Aunt Jemima’s rebrand to Pearl Milling Company is a step in the right direction

Aunt Jemima’s rebrand to Pearl Milling Company is a step in the right direction
February 25
01:05 2021

In June of 2020, Quaker Oats announced that they were retiring the popular pancake syrup brand Aunt Jemima and that the name was going to be replaced. This decision came following criticisms that the character Aunt Jemima is a caricature of Black women during Antebellum times and that the history of the character is rooted in racism.

Many brands and companies have come under fire in the past few years for having logos or mascots that are rooted in racism or have racist views. However, since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement people began demanding that these companies take action in acknowledging the meaning behind their brands and take action.

The Aunt Jemima character was created in 1893 and was based of former slave Nancy Green who created the original pancake mix. After Green’s passing in 1923, brand ambassadors were hired to travel around the country doing demonstrations and selling the pancake mix as Aunt Jemima. The founders of the brand chose the name Aunt Jemima which was originally a song sang by slaves working in the fields. The name and the character also embodied the “mammy” stereotype which romanticized the Antebellum South and portrayed Black women as a docile servants and caregivers to white families.

On February 9, Quaker Oats announced in a statement that the name would be changed to Pearl Milling Company and that the company was planning to make a one million dollar “commitment to empower and uplift Black girls and women.”

Many other companies also followed suit and rebranded some of their products that were culturally insensitive or rooted in racism. The popular boxed rice brand Uncle Ben’s has been changed to Ben’s Original. Another example is Dreyer’s popular Eskimo Pie, which has now been renamed Edy’s Pies. Dreyer’s released a statement explaining the reason for the rebrand and how the term “eskimo” is derogatory towards the Inuit people.

While the rebrand was long overdue, it is a step in the right direction. It shows that these huge companies should be held accountable despite how long they have been a “household name” and that they are not exempt from criticism. People feel strongly about this because these companies have access to money and resources that could enact positive change and actually make a difference. If this past year has shown us anything it is that applying pressure and demanding action does work.

Quaker Oats has set a precedent with the rebrand of Aunt Jemima to Pearl Milling Company. This shows other companies that they will be held accountable for whatever they do and that racism will not be tolerated and no one should be able to profit from it. It is important to acknowledge the storied past behind some of the most popular brands regardless of how iconic they are. While this rebrand along with the many others may be long overdue, it is proof that holding corporations accountable does work.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Meghana Vadlamani

Meghana Vadlamani

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