Jun 17, 2020 - Economy

Quaker to rename Aunt Jemima products, says brand is based on "a racial stereotype"

A bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup

Photo: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Quaker Oats announced Wednesday that it will rebrand and rename its Aunt Jemima products, saying it recognizes that the brand's "origins are based on a racial stereotype," NBC News reports.

Why it matters: In the wake of protests over systemic racism and police brutality, private companies are being forced to reckon with how their consumer products or branding may be harmful or offensive to communities of color.

What they're saying: "We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype. As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations," Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a press release.

Context: The Aunt Jemima logo was inspired by the minstrel song "Old Aunt Jemima," according to a 2015 New York Times piece authored by Riché Richardson, an associate professor of African American literature at Cornell.

  • Richardson called the logo "an outgrowth of Old South plantation nostalgia and romance grounded in an idea about the 'mammy,' a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own."

What's next: Quaker said the new packaging will appear on shelves in the fall of 2020.

  • The company has also announced it will donate at least $5 million over next five years "to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the black community."
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