In 2021, the pancake brand Aunt Jemima was renamed Pearl Milling Company.
Aunt Jemima was a well-known brand among netizens as a target of online rumors. We checked out a number of them – from a photograph that claimed to show Aunt Jemima chained to a table to the claim that Nancy Green died a millionaire for portraying the character.
But the Aunt Jemima character was controversial, and one that brand owner Quaker Oats (a division of PepsiCo Inc.) said was “based on a racial stereotype.” As The Associated Press reported in 2021, Aunt Jemima’s “smiling logo was inspired by the 19th century minstrel character ‘mammy,’ a black woman content to serve her white masters”.
The company made headlines again on April 25, 2022, when Pearl Milling Company announced a $100,000 grant to No More Empty Pots, an Omaha, Nebraska-based organization that provides food security for urban residents. and rural. Around this time, a familiar internet trope also recirculated on social media.
After the pancake company was renamed Pearl Milling Company in February 2021, following Black Lives Matter protests the previous year, some netizens argued the new name ‘erased’ a ‘great woman’ Of the history. This argument resurfaced in April 2022 in viral copy-and-paste content (known colloquially as copypasta):
In full, the copypasta read:
A great woman erased from history by idiots.
The branding of the syrup was a tribute to the gifts and talents of this woman. Now, future generations won’t even know this beautiful woman existed. That’s a shame. The world knew her as “Aunt Jemima”, but her first name was Nancy Green and she was a true American success story. She was born into slavery in 1834 in Montgomery County, KY. and became a wealthy superstar in the advertising world, as his first living brand. Green was 56 when she was chosen as the spokesperson for a new ready-to-use self-rising pancake flour and debuted in 1893 at a fair and exposition in Chicago. She demonstrated pancake mix and served thousands of pancakes, and became an instant star. She was a good storyteller, her personality was warm and engaging, and her showmanship was exceptional. Its exhibition stand drew so many people that special security personnel were assigned to keep the crowd moving. Nancy Green was signed to a lifetime contract, toured nationwide, and was paid extremely well. Her financial freedom and stature as a national spokesperson have allowed her to become one of the leading advocates against poverty and for equal rights for all Americans. She kept her job until her death in 1923, at the age of 89. She was a remarkable woman, and sadly she was ERASED by politics. I wanted you to know and remember in this time of cancel culture.
When the rebranding was first announced, Pearl Milling Company noted that the name had been part of the company’s history for over 130 years.
“Pearl Milling Company was a small mill in bustling St. Joseph, Missouri,” the company wrote on its website. They produced flour, cornmeal and, from 1889, the famous self-rising pancake mix that came to be known as Aunt Jemima.
According to the African American Registry (AAREG), an online nonprofit database of African American heritage around the world, Nancy Green was a black storyteller and one of the first black business role models in the United States. United. Born in 1834 as a slave in Kentucky, Green was hired in 1890 by the R.T. Davis Milling Company to play an “archetypal Mammy to promote their new product”. She was featured three years later as Aunt Jemima at the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago “in the guise of a plantation slave, where it was her job to operate a pancake stand”. As AAREG notes, Green was reportedly offered a lifetime deal to “adopt the Aunt Jemima moniker and promote pancake mix” (although that may be part of brand lore rather than an account). real).
The branding of Aunt Jemima’s syrup was not “a tribute to this woman’s gifts and talents” as the Facebook post claims, but rather the use of her depiction of a racially stereotypical caricature for marketing purposes :
The term “aunt” in this context was a southern form of address used with former slaves. They were denied the use of courtesy titles. A character named “Aunt Jemima” appeared on stage in Washington, D.C., as early as 1864. Rutt’s inspiration for Aunt Jemima was the American-style minstrel/vaudeville song “Old Aunt Jemima”, written in 1875. Rutt is said to have seen a minstrel show featuring the song “Old Aunt Jemima” in the fall of 1889, performed by blackface performers, the actor playing Aunt Jemima wore an apron and scarf, and he appropriated this Aunt Jemima character to market the Pearl Milling Company pancake mix.
In the decades since Green’s death, a number of other women have gone on to portray the Aunt Jemima caricature, including Anna Robinson and Lou Blanchard (below).
“Aunt Jemima – Our Story.” Aunt Jemima, http://www.pearlmillingcompany.com/our-history. Accessed April 27, 2022.
“The Aunt Jemima brand gets a new name: Pearl Milling Company.” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/ap/2021/02/10/aunt-jemima-brand-gets-a-new-name-pearl-milling-company/. Accessed April 27, 2022.
Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/ap/2021/02/10/aunt-jemima-brand-gets-a-new-name-pearl-milling-company/. Accessed April 27, 2022.
“Aunt Jemima Pancakes, a story.” African American Registry, https://aaregistry.org/story/aunt-jemima-pancakes-sold-in-stores/. Accessed April 27, 2022.
“Aunt Jemima’s Syrup is now hitting store shelves under a new brand name.” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/news/2021/06/24/aunt-jemima-pearl-milling-brand/. Accessed April 27, 2022.
“Copypasta”. Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/collections/copypasta/. Accessed April 27, 2022.
“Did the woman behind Aunt Jemima die a millionaire?” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/aunt-jemima-millionaire/. Accessed April 27, 2022.
“Does the photo show Aunt Jemima chained to a table?” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/aunt-jemima-chained-to-table/. Accessed April 27, 2022.
Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcindysweatman1972%2Fposts%2F10221227827545126. Accessed April 27, 2022.
Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F1214073328719387%2Fposts%2F4787956197997731%2F. Accessed April 27, 2022.
“Nancy Green, the original born ‘Aunt Jemima’.” African American Registry, https://aaregistry.org/story/nancy-green-the-original-aunt-jemima/. Accessed April 27, 2022.
Writer, Christopher Burbach World-Herald Staff. “Pearl Milling, formerly Aunt Jemima, donates $100,000 to Omaha Group for Black Women.” Omaha World-Herald, https://omaha.com/news/local/pearl-milling-formerly-aunt-jemima-gives-100-000-to-omaha-group-for-black-women/article_e0a7c30a-c4bf-11ec -bdbb-c7c8f85a7c28.html. Accessed April 27, 2022.