Quaker Oats announced on Wednesday it would be retiring the 130-year-old Aunt Jemima brand name and logo, with the company saying "Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype." In a statement, the company acknowledged the racism in its imagery and said a new brand name and logo will begin to appear later this year, with the name to be announced at a later date.
"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."
Additionally, Quaker Oats will donate $5 million over five year s"to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community."
The company already attempted to "update" the brand in the past, citing a need to be "appropriate and respectful," but ultimately decided more needed to be done. The brand name and logo was based off the song "Old Aunt Jemima," which was said to be sung by slaves and performed during minstrel shows, CNN notes. The website for the brand claims the logo was first born in 1890 and was based off Nancy Green, who was born into slavery. The website fails to note this, instead calling Green a "storyteller, cook, and missionary worker."
Pepsi bought Quaker Oats in 2001, and just recently the parent company announced $400 million in donations to support the Black community.
Following Quaker Oats' move, Mars company announced it would also update the visual identity of rice-maker Uncle Ben's.
"As a global brand, we know we have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices," a Mars spokesperson told HuffPost. "As we listen to the voices of consumers, especially in the Black community, and to the voices of our Associates worldwide, we recognize that one way we can do this is by evolving the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity."
Uncle Ben's, which is owned by Mars, was reportedly named after a Texas farmer "who was known for his exceptionally high quality rice," the brand's website states. As pointed out by the New York Times, many white Southerners used to refer to older Black men and women as "uncle" or "aunt" because they refused to call them "Mr" or "Mrs."
The Uncle Ben's logo is a portrait illustration of Frank Brown, a Chicago maitre d'hotel who agreed to pose for the company. Mars did not provide details about the rebranding.
"Since then we have evolved and modernized the iconic logo," the statement continued. "Now as we continue to listen [to] people from around the world, look inward and continue to educate ourselves on how the elements of the brand are perceived, we recognize it is time for us to evolve, which we will do."