Quaker Oats, the company that owns Aunt Jemima, announced that it will change the brand’s name and image, saying the product is based on a “racial stereotype.”
The brand, known for its pancake mix and distinctively-shaped syrup bottles, features a black woman, Aunt Jemima, dressed as a minstrel character, NBC News reported Wednesday.
Removing the image and renaming the brand are efforts “to make progress toward racial equality,” Kristin Kroepfl, a spokesperson for Quaker, said in a press release.
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” Kroepfl added. “As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we must also take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations.”
Quaker is a subsidiary of PepsiCo, one of the largest consumer food and beverage brands in the world. (RELATED: How Pepsi Alienated The Entire Country With One Ad)
Though not the first time the Aunt Jemima brand has come under scrutiny, it has faced increased criticism amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, video of the incident showed.
“Aunt Jemima is that kind of stereotype that is premised on this idea of Black inferiority and otherness,” Cornell associate professor Riché Richardson said Wednesday as the news of the brand’s near-complete change broke. Richardson has discussed the issue before.
Quaker said updated packaging will begin to appear in the fall, though the company did not say when the brand’s new name would be released.
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