The pancake mix and syrup formerly known as Aunt Jemima is serving up a new look. On Tuesday, Pepsico revealed a fresh name and image for the brand: the Pearl Milling Company. The name and logo originate from its founding business that introduced the two breakfast staples back in 1888. Even though the recipes themselves will not be changing, their aesthetic redesign has been long overdue.
The name and likeness of “Aunt Jemima” have long been sources of scrutiny by the public, with increasing focus in recent years. It became an unavoidable change in this past year, following the death of George Floyd in police custody. The parent company Quaker Oats finally acknowledged the racial insensitivity of using minstrel show imagery to be the face of their brand. The show featured performers in blackface and made a mockery of Black people and their culture. Despite knowing this, the company’s founder Chris L Rutt still decided to appropriate the name and image of a Black woman for his profit.
In regards to the change, a PepsiCo spokesperson announced that: “This name [Pearl Milling Company] is a nod to where our delicious products began before becoming a family-favorite breakfast staple.” They also admitted that “While the Aunt Jemima brand was updated over the years in a manner intended to remove racial stereotypes, it has not progressed enough to appropriately reflect the dignity, respect, and warmth that we stand for today…We are starting a new day with Pearl Milling Company, a new day rooted in the brand’s historic beginnings and its mission to create moments that matter at the breakfast table.”
The brand’s revitalized look will be on shelves as soon as June of 2021. Only a year after the company announced their intent to redesign. The company also intends to announce an annual $1 million promise to uplift Black girls and women.