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What is Aunt Jemima Based on? Nancy Green Was One of the First Black Corporate Storytellers in the U.S

Pepsi Co. has taken action after years of accusations that the Aunt Jemima label is a caricature of Black women and fostered racist stereotypes, specifically the “mammy” persona.

The corporation that owns the contentious Quaker Oats Company said on Tuesday that the popular pancake mix and syrups will now be sold under the moniker “Pearl Milling Company.”

According to a news release, consumers may anticipate finding Pearl Milling Company brand pancake mixes, syrups, cornmeal, flour, and grits on store shelves in June. The packaging (and contents) will remain the same; they will simply bear the new Pearl Milling Company brand.

Pepsi Co. claims the brand’s new name has historical significance. Pearl Milling Company was established in 1888 in St. Joseph, Missouri, and it was there that Aunt Jemima’s self-rising pancake mix was produced.

According to the corporation, it collaborated with consumers, workers, external cultural and subject-matter experts, and “diverse agency partners” to ensure that the new brand was created with inclusiveness in mind.

who is aunt jemima based on

Quaker Oats has also announced a $5 million commitment to supporting the Black community, including a $1 million commitment to empowering and elevating Black girls and women, and is encouraging individuals to nominate non-profit groups for the chance to win grants to promote this objective. PepsiCo has also started a five-year investment of more than $400 million to support Black businesses and communities and to improve Black participation inside the corporation.

The corporation stated in June 2020 that it would retire the Aunt Jemima brand as part of a bigger racial reckoning taking place in the United States.

“As we try to advance racial equality through multiple programs, we must also examine our portfolio of brands to ensure they reflect our values and fulfill the expectations of our consumers,” the business told CNN at the time.

Quaker Oats didn’t say it, but the modification appeared to be related to @singkirbysing’s viral TikTok in which she described “how to cook a non-racist breakfast.” In TikTok, Kirby discussed the history of the Aunt Jemima brand and concluded, “Today is not the day. Black Lives Matter, individuals, “She says this as she empties a box of Aunt Jemima pancake mix into the sink.

Not for the first time, the Aunt Jemima emblem was criticized. Cornell University professor Riché Richardson wrote in a 2015 New York Times opinion piece that the logo was “inextricably linked to Southern racism” because it was based on a “mammy,” a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly cared for the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own.

How did Aunt Jemima come to be, and was the contentious character based on a real person? Here is all the information you need to know:

Aunt Jemima Was Based on a Caricature That a Real Black Woman, Nancy Green, Was Hired to Portray

Aunt Jemima was “brought to life” by Nancy Green, a “storyteller, cook, and missionary worker” hired to advertise the pancake mix and syrup, according to the Aunt Jemima website.

However, the brand’s name is derived from the song “Old Aunt Jemima.” According to the African American Registry, Rutt heard “Aunt Jemima” performed by a blackface artist wearing an apron and bandanna headband at a vaudeville show in 1889. (AAREG). CNN reports that the song was also performed by slaves. Rutt named their pancake flour “Aunt Jemima” after hearing the song.

Nancy Green Was One of the First Black Corporate Storytellers in the U.S

According to the AAREG, Nancy did not create the Aunt Jemima recipe, but she became the first living trademark in advertising.

who is aunt jemima based on

Nancy Was Born Into Slavery.

Nancy was born in Montgomery County, Kentucky, as a slave. (It is worth mentioning that the Aunt Jemima website omits this portion of Nancy Green’s biography.) At the age of 56, she was recruited by the R.T. Davis Milling Company, which had acquired the Aunt Jemima formula and brand.

Nancy Regularly Promoted the Aunt Jemima Brand

At the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, Nancy exhibited the pancake mix and served thousands of pancakes. According to the AAREG, special police officers were posted to her booth in order to keep the throng flowing. Fair organizers awarded her a medal and a certificate for her accomplishment.

Nancy Signed a Lifetime Contract to Promote Aunt Jemima.

According to the AAREG, she then embarked on promotional trips across the nation. Pancakes became wildly popular overnight. Nancy worked until her death in an automobile accident in 1923.


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