Aunt Jemima to Change Name, Remove Image From Its Packaging

The syrup brand says it recognizes it is "based on a racist stereotype"

Aunt Jemima Syrup label in bottle. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Aunt Jemima Syrup label in bottle. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
LightRocket via Getty Images
By Bonnie Stiernberg / June 17, 2020 11:27 am

Quaker Oats announced Wednesday that its Aunt Jemima brand of maple syrup and pancake mix will finally be ditching its logo and changing its name, admitting that the 130-year-old brand has racist origins.

“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a press release. “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.”

The brand’s logo has changed over time — Aunt Jemima was originally dressed as a minstrel character — and Quaker Oats said the image will be removed from its line of maple syrups, pancake mixes and other foods by the end of 2020, noting that the name change will happen “at a later date.”

“We acknowledge the brand has not progressed enough to appropriately reflect the confidence, warmth and dignity that we would like it to stand for today,” Kroepfl said. “We are starting by removing the image and changing the name. We will continue the conversation by 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.”

The company also noted that the Aunt Jemima brand will donate $5 million to create “meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community.”

Update: Uncle Ben’s rice has followed suit and announced plans to overhaul its packaging and logo. “Now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do,” the brand’s parent company Mars said in a statement. “We don’t yet know what the exact changes and timing will be, but we are evaluating all possibilities.”

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