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Quaker Finally Says Goodbye to the Stereotype-Inspired Name 'Aunt Jemima'

Quaker is doing away with a name they acknowledged is "based on a racial stereotype."

JJava Designs/shutterstock
JJava Designs/shutterstock

Last we heard from the breakfast brand Aunt Jemima, it was recalling its potentially contaminated waffles and pancakes. And now its parent company Quaker Oats is recalling the product name "Aunt Jemima" itself, as well as the photo of a Black woman on its packaging, following a June 17 announcement that the American food company is working "to make progress toward racial equality." 

The Aunt Jemima brand, which has existed for more than 130 years, is named after the "mammy" stereotype of a Black woman who worked in a white family and took care of the kids. This archetype was made recognizable through minstrel shows, which were horribly racist skits and performances depicting Black people that passed for entertainment from the early 19th to the early 20th century.

"We recognize Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype," said Kristin Kroepfl, VP and Chief Marketing Officer of Quaker Foods North America, which is controlled by holding company PepsiCo. "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."

The name and packaging changes should appear towards the end of 2020. Note that the name changes will be implemented after packaging changes begin, so you may see some unidentifiable Aunt Jemima on the shelves for a little while. 

Following Quaker's announcement, brands like Uncle Ben's and Mrs. Butterworth's announced their own plans to rebrand, albeit with less specificity. 

Perhaps this time these food brands will allude to something crazy in their products, like, I don't know, food? 

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Ruby Anderson is a News Writer at Thrillist. Send your tips to randerson@thrillist.com.