Aunt Jemima is being rebranded as Pearl Milling Company in an effort to distance itself from the racial stereotype associated with the pancake mix and syrups. While the name will change, the company will maintain the red-branded packaging that was associated with the Aunt Jemima brand.
The new branded products will be arriving in the market in June 2021. Pearl Milling Company was founded in 1888 in Missouri and they were the originating company that created the self-rising pancake mix that later became known as Aunt Jemima.
The Quaker Oats Company owned and created Aunt Jemima in 1925. The company is now committed to removing racial stereotypes that were around at the time when the brand was first created. In 2020, they announced that they wanted to change the Aunt Jemima name and packaging and gave $5 million to support the Black community. According to Quaker, they wanted to retire the brand because the origins of the character on their packaging was based on a racial stereotype.
The Aunt Jemima character was based on an enslaved “mammy,” which is a Black woman happy to serve her white masters. Nancy Green was the first face of the pancake product in 1890 and she was a former slave. But with the rise of Black Lives Matter protests and the awareness brought towards supporting Black communities, the brand decided to remove all the negative stereotypes by rebranding their products.
“Throughout the effort that led to the new Pearl Milling Company name, Quaker worked with consumers, employees, external cultural and subject-matter experts, and diverse agency partners to gather broad perspectives and ensure the new brand was developed with inclusivity in mind,” said the company’s statement.
This is similar to the change that Uncle Ben’s rice experienced, when they rebranded as Ben’s Originals in 2020. After the widespread protests, the brand wanted to focus its efforts on rebranding and remove all racial stereotypes. Additionally, they wanted to introduce a new purpose, which is to create opportunities for everyone at the table, and is meant to introduce the brand’s new idea of having a more inclusive future.
Last year, Master P launched a line of food products called Uncle P, which offers consumers a Black-owned alternative to the brands mentioned above, Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s.
“When you look at Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, a lot of those products are mockeries of African-American people and couldn’t even feed our communities. With Uncle P, the more we make, the more we give. And the only way to give is by owning these products,” P said when speaking with CNN.
“If they made billions of dollars off Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, imagine how much we’ll make to give back to our own community. It’ll be us helping us without having to wait for the government. We can actually change the world,” P continued.
Pearl Milling Company announced that they will provide details in the coming weeks about their most recent $1 million commitment. This is “to empower and uplift Black girls and women, inviting the community to visit its website and nominate non-profit organizations for an opportunity to receive grants to further that mission. This is in addition to PepsiCo’s more than $400 million, five-year investment to uplift Black business and communities, and increase Black representation at PepsiCo,” said a statement from the company.