Quaker Oats Co., a unit of PepsiCo, announced that it will retire the image and name of its 131-year-old Aunt Jemima brand due to its racist origins. The decision is part of a larger movement underway among corporate brands to reevaluate their role in perpetuating systemic racism after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and ensuing Black Lives Matter protests.
The Aunt Jemima logo traces back to 1893, when Nancy Green, a black woman who was born into enslavement, was hired to portray the character when it was introduced at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype. 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,” said Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer, Quaker Foods North America.
Quaker Oats will roll out the changed Aunt Jemima packaging in Q4, followed by a name change.
In addition to changing the Aunt Jemima name and image, Quaker Oats is donating $5 million over the next five years to support the black community, on behalf of the Aunt Jemima brand.
Prior to the Aunt Jemima announcement, PepsiCo announced a more than $400 million set of racial equality initiatives over five years.
Mars, parent company of the Uncle Ben’s brand, which features an older black man, quickly followed suit, saying it would review the visual brand identity.