PepsciCo’s Quaker Oats subsidiary has announced it will remove the image of Aunt Jemima from its packaging for syrup and pancake mix as well as change the name of the brand “to make progress toward racial equality.”
Packaging changes without the Aunt Jemima image will begin to appear in the fourth quarter of this year. The name change will be announced at a later date and will quickly follow the first phase of packaging changes, the company said in a statement.
The inspiration for the 130-year-old brand was a minstrel show song “Old Aunt Jemima,” and for years packaging featured the image of a beaming dark-skinned black woman wearing a kerchief around her head – an image of the “mammy” stereotype from the minstrel shows. Quaker Oats acquired the brand in 1927, but the label imagery was not updated until Purchase-based PepsiCo acquired Quaker Oats in 2001 and offered a more flattering updated image of the brand’s namesake.
However, in the aftermath of the protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, Quaker Oats acknowledged the roots of the brand and agreed to make changes.
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” said Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America. “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.”
Quaker Oats also pledged to donate $5 million over the next five years to nonprofits that seek “to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the black community.”