North Texas Daily

Changing brand names looks like new trend

Changing brand names looks like new trend

Changing brand names looks like new trend
June 28
15:02 2020

Now seems like the perfect time to drop the racist stereotypes. Companies behind well-known brands like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s line grocery store shelves to this day. They are now considering changing their names after years of calls for them to make changes due to their name linking to southern racism. As the uprising against racism and police brutality grows stronger, we start to see more brands speak out.

Aunt Jemim, a well-known syrup and pancake mix, is changing its name and logo after 130 years of using a Black woman’s face to advertise their products. The brand’s current parent company PepsiCo says they acknowledge that the brand they took over symbolizes racism despite past attempts to make any changes. They also state that work has been done over the years to update the brand, but those changes are not enough. Therefore, if they knew it was problematic why didn’t they make the necessary changes when they first took over? We are starting to see a lot of similar stories of people feeling “guilty” about their actions but not doing anything about it.

The history of how the popular brand gained its name is not hard to miss the racism that comes attached.

In 1889 the Aunt Jemima logo was created by Chris L. Rutt and Charles G. Underwood, two white men, to market their ready-made pancake flour. Rutt was inspired by a minstrel song “Old Aunt Jemima” which was composed by African American comedian and performer Billy Kersands. The origin of Aunt Jemima comes from southern plantation stereotypes of the “Mammy” which is portrayed as a devoted servant. They later sold their company to R.T. Davis Milling Co. in 1890 when they needed money. The company later hires Nancy Green, a former slave who was working as a cook for a judge, to act as Aunt Jemima and sell the pancake flour.

While you may have heard on multiple social media platforms that Nancy Green was a millionaire due to her helping them bring Aunt Jemima to life, there is no actual proof she received any money while helping the company. In fact, the brand would change Green as Aunt Jemima with several different women, including Anna Harrington.

The name and logo of Aunt Jemima would change over six times within those 130 years, yet Quaker still did not feel the need to change the logo when they first made the change back in 1989. They would keep the face as a Black woman but change her up to be more of a grandmother which would give a more modern persona. Did they think this would make people feel more comfortable? They continue to use the stereotype and the false story of Black communities to sell their product.

They expect us to honestly believe they had no clue the back history of this popular brand. It is clear as day and not hard to find. I know when they were in talks of buying the brand, they were told the stories as well as seen multiple advertisements before they encountered it. If they truly felt sorry, would they pay the family of the women they exploited to help sell their products? No, they continue to act like they do not exist.

While the U.K.-based parent company for Uncle Ben’s stated that their visual brand is evolving. It is still more excuses for why they never changed it before. The term “Uncle” was a common name given to elderly Black slaves. They claim their brand was named after the founder in 1940, a “legendary Texas farmer who was known for his exceptionally high-quality rice.” The man we see as the face of the brand used to work as a waiter and agreed to pose for the brand.

While Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben two long-lasting brands that have stood out for years for still using racism to help sell their products, they are not the only ones people have brought to light. They are one of the main targets in the media now due to Black lives being targeted by society. Eskimo Pies and Chiquita bananas are still kicking. We also have other brands that are not dealing with food such as professional and college sports teams and mascots based on the lives of Native Americans.

We are trying to make a change in this world and making a change for one community is still not enough. We have to stand by the sides of all racial stereotypes and put an end to it all. Just because one brand decides to change does not mean we have forgotten about the others. There still is not a lot of work being done to make changes, but they all talk a big talk.

Featured Illustration: Miranda Thomas

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Daija Bostic

Daija Bostic

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