America’s beloved Aunt Jemima pancake mix officially has a new name: Pearl Milling Company.
Pearl Milling Company was founded in 1888 in St. Joseph, Missouri, and created the pancake mix that later became known as Aunt Jemima, PepsiCo announced in a statement.
“The Quaker Oats Company signed the contract to purchase the Aunt Jemima brand in 1925. It updated its image over the years in a manner intended to remove racial stereotypes that dated back to the brand origins,” PepsiCo said. “In June 2020, the company announced it was transitioning from the Aunt Jemima name and the likeness on packaging and pledged a $5 million commitment to support the Black community.”
PepsiCo said the new brand was “developed with inclusivity in mind.”
The new products are set to hit the shelves in June of 2021, according to PepsiCo.
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) February 9, 2021
Quaker Oats announced they’d change the brand name back in June, saying the product is based on a “racial stereotype.” (RELATED: Uncle Ben’s Brand Announces Plans To ‘Evolve’ After Aunt Jemima Removal)
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” Kristin Kroepfl, a spokesperson for Quaker, said in a press release. “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.”
The character was inspired by the 19th century “mammy” minstrel character which was a black woman who was happy to serve her white masters. Nancy Green, a former slave, was the first face of the product back in 1893, according to NPR.
Quaker Oats, a division of PepsiCo, bought the Aunt Jemima brand in 1925 and updated the logo throughout the years.
The decision to change the famous logo did receive some pushback, however, including from relatives of two women who portrayed Aunt Jemima, Patch reported.
Relatives of the women who went on to portray Aunt Jemima in the 1920’s and 1930’s were concerned the removal of the character will erase their history, according to the report.
“This is an injustice for me and my family. This is part of my history, sir,” Larnell Evans Sr., a great-grandson of Anna Short Harrington who portrayed Aunt Jemima told Patch.
Harrington played Aunt Jemima after she was discovered in 1935 at the New York State Fair.
Evans said the rebranding is a “slap in the face,” according to NBC News.
“She worked 25 years doing it. She improved their product … what they’re trying to do is ludicrous.”
The family of Lillian Richard, who became an ambassador for the brand after being discovered in Dallas was also concerned that their aunt’s legacy would be erased.
“We just don’t want my aunt’s legacy – what she did making an honest living at the time– to be wiped away,” Vera Harris, Richard’s great niece, said according to Fox 6. “Her story should not be erased from history.”