It has been a staple of American breakfast tables for more than a century, but has long faced criticism that his name and likeness are rooted in racist imagery.
Now, Aunt Jemima’s name has become new: Pearl Mills Company.
In an advertisement released Tuesday by PepsiCo, which owns Aunt Jemima’s parent company Quaker Oats, its pie-and-syrup mix line has officially begun to rebrand and is one step closer to permanently abandoning its 131-year-old name.
The new name comes from the milling company in St.Joseph, Missouri, which pioneered the self-growing waffle mix that became known as Aunt Jemima, according to PepsiCo, which said the renamed products will hit stores in June.
It was the change in business since last June after the murder of George Floyd that spurred widespread protests against racial injustice and a national account of the ancient South’s symbols and meaning. Several food companies have come under fire for using racial stereotypes, including Quaker Oats, which it said will do so. Drop Aunt Jemima’s name, Redesigning his packaging and pledging $ 5 million to support the black community.
The company unveiled a Website redesign “It was the start of a new day,” on the Aunt Jemima line on Tuesday.
“Last June, PepsiCo and Quaker Oats pledged to change the name and image of Aunt Jemima, while acknowledging that they do not reflect our core values,” the company said on the website.
The products bearing the Aunt Jemima name will remain available until June, but without Aunt Jemima’s selfie, according to PepsiCo, which said in a press release that the company requested input on the new name.
“Throughout the efforts leading to the new name for Pearl Mills, Quaker has worked with consumers, employees, outside experts in culture and subject matters, and diverse agency partners to gather broad perspectives and ensure that the new brand is developed with inclusivity in mind,” PepsiCo said.
Jamal Green, a civil rights defender and former Chicago mayor candidate, He said on Twitter On Tuesday, the change was long overdue.
“130 years ago two white men made Aunt Jemima drink,” said Mr. Green. “I took a black slave archetype and made it their drink face for profit. Today, that’s over. Aunt Jemima has finally been replaced. These white guys have made billions of black customization and hopefully they are rotting in Hell.”
On the Aunt Jemima website, photos of the pie mix and the new drink packaging were revealed on Tuesday. The windmill features a water wheel and still uses the same red, white, and yellow color scheme. The pancake mix box and the syrup bottle each contained a label that said, “New name just as great as Aunt Jemima.”
In addition to its rebranding, the newly created Pearl Mills Corporation said Tuesday that it has pledged $ 1 million to empower and advance black girls and women. The company said the funds were added to a $ 400 million, five-year investment to support black businesses and communities, and increase black representation at PepsiCo.
Nolewi Rocks, an author and professor at Cornell University whose work explores race and gender, said in an email Tuesday evening that there are additional steps the company could take.
“I think one good use of this money might be to support an ad agency led by black women who could hire them to consult with them in the future to ensure they get good advice about their brand and advertising plans,” Dr. Rocks said of $ 1 million.
The roots of the character Aunt Jemima trace back to a 19th-century dissident song that expressed nostalgia for pre-war Southern. Quaker Oats replaced the handkerchief on Aunt Jemima’s head with a patterned headband in 1968 and added pearl earrings and a lace collar in 1989.
Last September, Mars Food announced that it was renaming Uncle Ben rice products to Ben’s Original and that it would also remove the image of a smiling, older black man from the box.
The parent company of Cream of Wheat said last September that the Black Chef would not appear on its packaging.