|Aunt Jemima's old and new packaging (photo cred: Pinterest/Aunt Jemima website)|
Aunt Jemima's character was created in the 1880s. She was based on the idea of the Black mammy. The Oxford dictionary defines mammy as "offensive." It is "(formerly in the southern US) a black nursemaid or nanny in charge of white children." As a result, the mammy was seen as warm, happy, servants, and/or slaves of white families.
After R.T. Davis purchased the Aunt Jemima Manufacturing Co. in 1890, he hired Nancy Green, a former slave, and servant to do demonstrations with the pancake mix as the character Aunt Jemima. She played her in 1893 at the World Fair in Chicago Illinois.
After purchasing the company in 1926, the Quaker Oats Company hired a Black woman named Anna Robinson to play Aunt Jemima at the World Fair in Chicago. The "Aunt Jemima"name was registered in 1937. In 1955, the Quaker Oats company hired another Black woman named Aylene Lewis to play the character at the Aunt Jemima restaurant in Disneyland.
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. We recognize Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype. While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough.Some of the changes that Kroepfl spoke of included changing the logo of Aunt Jemima which formerly included a dark-skin woman dressed in "mammy" clothing -- a headscarf. Now, the logo is the picture of a lighter smiling Black woman with curly hair, pearls, and a white collar.
Since Pepsi made their announcement, MARS, the owners of Uncle Ben's rice announced that they are following in the footsteps of Aunt Jemima and will be undergoing a "brand evolution".
What do you think about the origin of Aunt Jemima and changes the company is making?
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