Aunt Jemima to change branding based on 'racial stereotype'

(BBC) – US company Quaker Oats has announced it will rename its Aunt Jemima line of syrups and foods, acknowledging the brand was based on a racial stereotype.

For over 130 years, the brand’s logo has featured a black woman named after a character from minstrel shows in the 1800s that mocked African-Americans.

Quaker said past branding updates to address these issues were “not enough”.

Criticism against the brand has renewed amid the national debate over racism sparked by George Floyd’s death.

Kristin Kroepfl, Quaker Foods North America’s chief marketing officer, said the company is working “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,” Ms Kroepfl said, adding that Aunt Jemima’s origins are “based on a racial stereotype”.

“We are starting by removing the image and changing the name.”

The company has not offered further details on the coming changes, which were first reported by NBC News.

In addition, Aunt Jemima is to donate at least $5m (£3.9m) over the next five years to support the African American community, according to parent company PepsiCo.

The branding on Aunt Jemima’s syrups, mixes and other food products features an image of a black woman that has often been linked to stereotypes around slavery.

In a 2015 opinion piece for the New York Times, Cornell University African-American literature professor Riché Richardson described Aunt Jemima as “an outgrowth of Old South plantation nostalgia and romance”.

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