Aunt Jemima Syrup Retired, Quaker Oats Admits She's Based on Racial Stereotype
Jun 19 2020
Businesses across the world's largest economy are facing a reckoning over branding following last month's killing of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of police in Minneapolis, which sparked many protests against racism.
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.
According to Mars, "Uncle Ben was an African-American rice grower known for the quality of his rice".
The Aunt Jemima brand has existed for more than 130 years, and "has evolved over time with the goal of representing loving moms from diverse backgrounds who want the best for their families", according to PepsiCo.
It's unclear what the evolution of the brand will look like. but the rep told HuffPost that all possibilities were on the table.
On Wednesday, Mars and PepsiCo announced they would be reworking the popular Uncle Ben's and Aunt Jemima brands, which have been accused of portraying a racist stereotype.
Parent company B&G Foods says they're evaluating the package and image and "will proactively take steps to ensure that we and our brands do not inadvertently contribute to systemic racism".
Kristin Kroepfl, chief marketing officer at Quaker Oats, said, "We acknowledge the brand has not progressed enough to appropriately reflect the confidence, warmth and dignity that we would like it to stand for today". The company also committed to spend $5 million over the next five years "to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community".
Uncle Ben's parent company Mars, Incorporated posted a press release Wednesday on their website, addressing the issue by stating that after listening to feedback from their consumers and employees, they "recognize that now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben's brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do".
But the term "uncle" has come under fire in the African-American community. Even with the update, Cream of Wheat has faced criticism that its logo, like Uncle Ben's, was perpetuating racist "Uncle Tom" imagery.
"The Mrs. Butterworth's brand, including its syrup packaging, is meant to evoke the images of a loving grandmother", the company said in a news release Wednesday.