Aunt Jemima to change name as owner admits the brand’s ‘racial stereotype’ origins

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PepsiCo said on Wednesday that it would be changing the name of its Aunt Jemima breakfast product line as protests over systemic racism continue across the US.

The Aunt Jemima brand, which is held under PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats unit, has depicted a black women as its mascot for more than 130 years, but will be removed beginning in the fourth quarter of 2020, a statement from the company read.

The name will then be changed at a later date, the statement added.

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

“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 change to the well-known line of pancake mix and syrup mark one of the more visible steps taken by a company amid a broader corporate reckoning over race. Many companies have donated money, pledged to boost hiring of black workers and taken other steps to support the black community following protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.

Other brands are being called on to change names that are similarly rooted in America’s problematic race history, including Uncle Ben, a rice brand, Mrs. Butterworth’s, a syrup and pancake brand, and Cream of Wheat, a porridge brand.

PepisCo announced on Tuesday that it would be donating $400 million to promote racial equality over the next five years.

The Aunt Jemima name dates back to 1889 and came from a minstrel show, which featured white characters in blackface. The character’s appearance changed over the years, and in 1994 Gladys Knight appeared in a commercial for the syrup.

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