A welcome change. In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests across the globe following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others, several food companies and brands have announced they will be changing their names.
Aunt Jemima, which is owned by Quaker Foods, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, was the first brand to confirm a moniker update on Wednesday, June 17. Currently, the 130-year-old brand features a Black woman named Aunt Jemima, who was originally dressed as a minstrel character, on its packaging.
Aunt Jemima’s picture has actually changed multiple times over the course of the brand’s history. In fact, in recent years, Quaker Foods removed the “mammy” kerchief from the character following growing criticism that the brand perpetuated a racist stereotype that stemmed from slavery.
Now, Quaker Foods intends to do away with the image and name entirely as part of a concerted effort by the company “to make progress toward racial equality.” Consumers will begin to see the brand’s revamp in October, and a new name will be announced at a later date, following the first phase of packaging changes.
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a press release in June 2020. “As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations.”
Kroepfl also noted that Quaker Foods has worked to “update” the brand in an effort to be “appropriate and respectful” but the company now realizes those changes didn’t go far enough.
The company’s decision was met with an overwhelming amount of support from consumers. “After 130 years, it is officially time to pour one out for Aunt Jemima,” host Trevor Noah said during a clip from Wednesday’s episode of The Daily Show as he poured syrup on the floor. “Aunt Jemima, from the beginning, was a classic slave ‘mammy’ stereotype who got her name from an old blackface minstrel character.”
After Quaker Foods announced Aunt Jemima’s forthcoming name change, a handful of other food brands with other problematic monikers confirmed they would be taking similar steps.
Scroll down to see more food brands that have announced they will change their racially insensitive names.