For over 130 years, the breakfast brand Aunt Jemima has been criticized for its mascot — a racist stereotype based around an enslaved “Mammy” type. And in recent years the push to very belatedly get rid of it and find a new name have been even done even more forcefully than before. Over the summer PepsiCo, who owns the line of pancake mix, syrup and other first-meal-of-the-day products announced they would finally do so. Jump to over half a year later, and it’s actually happening — or eventually, anyway.
As per USA Today, the replacement for Aunt Jemima is [drum roll] “The Pearl Milling Company.” The name refers to the original company that came up with the brand before it was given the Aunt Jemima mascot. As for Jemima, her image will be replaced with a drawing of…a building. That said, if you’re expecting to see Aunt Jemima and her likeness disappear before the end of Black History Month, think again: The changes won’t roll out until June — about a year after the decision to rebrand away from a racist caricature.
The original model for Aunt Jemima was one Nancy Clark, who was actually a slave before being freed. She became advertising’s first living trademark, and one of the first Black corporate models. Clark was originally depicted with a big smile and a bandanna in her hair — an image that was accused from its outset of leaning into racist stereotypes. It wasn’t until 1989 that the image was revamped.
Aunt Jemima was the first rebranding of racist products to happen last year; also undergoing an overhaul are Uncle Ben’s, Mrs. Butterworth, Cream of Wheat, and Eskimo Pie.
(Via USA Today)