In overdue branding news: Quaker Oats is canning its line of Aunt Jemima products.
The brand was founded in 1889 with the slogan “I’se in Town, Honey” and a title character named after the minstrel song “Old Aunt Jemima” … portrayed by Nancy Green, who was born a slave in Kentucky. Rather than update the identity—which Quaker has done before—or try to do other brand work, PepsiCo, which owns Quaker, announced it will be removing the mascot and entirely renaming the brand of syrups, mixes and other products.
The changes will be seen on shelves beginning in the fourth quarter of 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,” Kristin Kroepfl, VP and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a press release. “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.”
Kroepfl went on to add that the Aunt Jemima brand will be donating a minimum of $5 million over a five-year period “to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community.”
As The New York Times reported, following the announcement, Mars, which owns Uncle Ben’s, said it recognized the need to “evolve” the brand and its visual identity. It’s likely more brands will follow suit in the coming days.
As of now, the Aunt Jemima website is still live.