(WCMH/WETM) — Quaker Oats announced Wednesday it will remove the name and image of the Aunt Jemima brand of syrup and pancake mix.
The move is part of an effort by the company to “make progress toward racial equality,” the company said in a statement first obtained by NBC News.
The company said in its statement that it recognizes that “Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype.”
Quaker Oats announced that the image of Aunt Jemima will be removed from all packaging and the brand’s name will be changed. @SheinelleJones reports on the move that comes amid rapid cultural change in the country. pic.twitter.com/76a3hC64rM— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 17, 2020
The brand, which spans over 120 years, features a black woman named after a character from 19th-century minstrel shows. The company’s history timeline says Aunt Jemima was first “brought to life” by Nancy Green, who was born a slave in 1834 in Kentucky. She became the face of the product in 1890.
While Green was portrayed as a “Mammy,” Aunt Jemima has since evolved, replacing her red bandanna with pearls and curls in 1989.
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a press release. “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.”
“African Americans have been stereotypically represented holistically in terms of things like the product,” said Georgia Verdier, President of the NAACP at the Elmira/Corning Branch.
The company has changed their brand in the past, removing the kerchief from the woman. But the brand continued to be controversial.
“I think the cooperation and marketers are taking a look at this and saying that we better look to holistically at what is happening in America,” Verdier said.
Verdier told 18 News that it’s the youth that will make the difference in this world.
“I believe, now is the time for the young movements,” Verdier said. “I believe they will be the change agents.”
Quaker said the new packaging is due out in the fall of 2020, and a new name will be announced at a later date, NBC News reported.