Aunt Jemima Brand And Logo To Be Discontinued Over Racial Stereotype

A familiar face to many kitchens, the Aunt Jemima brand of breakfast products will no longer be available on store shelves as of late 2020, parent company Quaker Oats announced, according to the Associated Press.

In the wake of the George Floyd killing and subsequent wave of protests decrying police brutality and systemic racism, Quaker finally acknowledged that the brand was based on a "racial stereotype" and has decided to discontinue both the brand and the logo.

It's a move that Quaker and its parent company, PepsiCo, have been dancing around for some time.

Imgur | LunaticFringe

"We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype," said Quaker Foods North America's Kristin Kroepfl, according to AP News. "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."

The Aunt Jemima image has indeed changed over the years.

The 130+ year-old brand received an update in the '80s to bring it into line with more modern sensibilities, including removing a handkerchief and adding pearl earrings.

However, Aunt Jemima's origins are undeniably racist, based upon a character and song in 19th century minstrel shows, and there have been repeated, and increasing, calls to retire the brand altogether before.

Critics not only pointed to the racial stereotype in Aunt Jemima's origins, but the racial nostalgia of the character itself.

Imgur | LunaticFringe

"When you look at old Aunt Jemima ads, you see constantly at a time when middle-class housewives were not able to employ servants, they weren't able to employ their black maid as easily as they did in previous decades, you see constant notation in the ads that you can't have Aunt Jemima today but you can have her recipe and that's the next best thing," Maurice Manring, author of Slave in a Box: The Strange Career of Aunt Jemima, told NPR.

Just after Quaker's announcement, Mars Incorporated made a similar statement.

Flickr | Photo Nut 2011

The parent company of Uncle Ben's rice products said it would be retiring its character so the brand could "evolve."

"Racism has no place in society. We stand in solidarity with the Black community, our Associates and our partners in the fight for social justice," a statement from Mars read. "We know to make the systemic change needed, it’s going to take a collective effort from all of us — individuals, communities and organizations of all sizes around the world."

Neither Quaker nor Mars have announced what new brands would take the place of those being retired.

While Mars was not certain when the changes would take place, Quaker said that new packaging would begin showing up in stores by late 2020, with new branding coming some time after that, according to NBC News.

PepsiCo has also pledged $400 million over five years "to lift up black communities and increase black representation at PepsiCo," according to AP News.

h/t: AP News, NBC News