The Aunt Jemima pancake and syrup brand will get a new name and image parent company Quaker Oats announced on Wednesday, because after 130 years of using the image somebody there finally realized it’s racist!
The pancake mix was developed in 1889 and branded with the Aunt Jemima character, a “mammy” racial stereotype that lives to serve white families. The name itself was taken from a vaudeville song performed by minstrel performers and the first model for the Aunt Jemima character, Nancy Green, was born enslaved in Kentucky. In 2014, one of Green’s heirs and a relative of another woman who modeled as Aunt Jemima sued Quaker Oats, claiming that the models were an integral part of developing the famous pancake recipe. The case was ultimately dismissed because the plaintiffs could not confirm they were related to the models.
For years Quaker Oats has tried to distance Aunt Jemima from her mammy image, giving her a lace collar and earrings in the 1980s, but NBC News reports that the brand believes giving the products a new name is a company effort to “make progress toward racial equality.” The decision comes as several companies that have profited off of racial stereotypes are dropping their names, amid a nation-wide discussion of racism prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement, including the band Lady Antebellum and a Santa Barbara restaurant named Sambo’s.