The new name for the famous Aunt Jemima line of pancake mixes and syrups has been announced: Pearl Milling Company. Parent company Quaker Oats, which is owned by PepsiCo Inc., said in June that it was distancing the line from the old name, which critics say and which the company admitted was based on a racial stereotype.
The repackaged products will hit the shelves next June. PepsiCo also announced “a $ 1 million commitment to empower and uplift black girls and women.”
As part of the repackaging, the logo, featuring a black woman, will be removed and replaced with an image of the building that has been part of the brand’s 131-year history. According to the brand’s website, “Pearl Milling Company was a small mill in the bustling town of St. Joseph, Missouri. Using a pearl milling technique, they produced flour, cornmeal and, beginning in 1889, the famous Automatic yeast pancake mix, who would become known as Aunt Jemima. “
PepsiCo has faced criticism over Aunt Jemima’s name for years.
In 1989, the brand updated the character of Aunt Jemima, removing the headscarf, something linked to stereotypes rooted in slavery, in favor of a straighter hairstyle. Then, in 2014, the descendants of a woman who they claimed played “Aunt Jemima” in the 1930s sued Quaker Oats for $ 2 billion. “It developed a long time ago as a kind of group of stereotypes distilled into one person,” said Adweek writer Sam Thielman. CBS this morning.
The plaintiffs, whose case was ultimately thrown out by a Chicago judge, alleged that it was a photo of their relative Anna Short Harrington that made the brand famous. They also alleged that Quaker Oats had stolen prescriptions and failed to fulfill a contract or pay royalties.
Last June, when George Floyd’s murder sparked protests against racial injustice, PepsiCo was one of many brands and individuals who faced backlash over identities deemed problematic. As Lady Antebellum and the Washington Redskins football team changed their names, to Lady A and the Washington football team, respectively, the food, snack and beverage corporation also pledged to do better.
“As we work to advance racial equality through various initiatives, we must also carefully analyze our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet the expectations of our consumers,” Kristin Kroepfl, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Quaker Foods North America said in a press release at the time.
“We recognize that Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype. While years have gone by to update the brand in an appropriate and respectful way, we realize that those changes are not enough,” Kroepfl continued. The brand also pledged $ 5 million to support the black community.
This story was originally published by CBS News on February 10, 2021 at 7:02 am ET.