Aunt Jemima to be rebranded because it's 'based on a racial stereotype,' Quaker Oats says

Aunt Jemima
(Image credit: Debbi Smirnoff / iStock )

Quaker Oats is taking Aunt Jemima out of the mix.

The company announced on Wednesday that it will rename its 130-year-old brand of syrup and pancake mix, Aunt Jemima, and remove the image because its "origins are based on a racial stereotype," NBC News reports.

"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, Quaker Foods North America's vice president and chief marketing officer, said.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

NBC notes Aunt Jemima was "originally dressed as a minstrel character," though the image has since changed. Cornell University associate professor Riché Richardson wrote in The New York Times in 2015 that the brand should be retired, as its "very much linked to Southern racism" and the logo was "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." As Richardson noted, the logo's inspiration was the minstrel song "Old Aunt Jemima."

Kroepfl said per Adweek that while "work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful," the company realizes that "those changes are not enough." Quaker Oats hasn't unveiled the updated image or name, but the new packaging will reportedly appear in stores this fall, and Kroepfl added that the company will be "gathering diverse perspectives from both our organization and the Black community to further evolve the brand and make it one everyone can be proud to have in their pantry."

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.