The syrup and pancake mix brand formerly — and controversially — known as Aunt Jemima announced its new name Tuesday, months after parent company Quaker Oats acknowledged the “racial stereotype” inherent in the brand’s name and logo.
PepsiCo, owner of Quaker Oats, said in a press release that Aunt Jemima had been renamed the Pearl Milling Company after a Missouri-based miller founded in the 1880s.
The Pearl Milling Company created the self-rising pancake mix that would later be sold under the Aunt Jemima brand, PepsiCo said. Quaker Oats acquired Aunt Jemima in 1925.
Aunt Jemima had come under scrutiny over the years for its racist logo and packaging, which originally featured a Black woman dressed as a minstrel character.
PepsiCo noted that Quaker Oats had updated the brand’s image over the years “in a manner intended to remove racial stereotypes that dated back to the brand origins,” such as by removing the “mammy” kerchief originally worn by the Aunt Jemima character.
Critics, however, continued to take issue with the character’s racist roots. Aunt Jemima is “a retrograde image of Black womanhood on store shelves,” Riché Richardson, an Africana studies professor at Cornell University, said last year.
Explaining the brand’s new name and logo, PepsiCo said Quaker had “worked with consumers, employees, external cultural and subject-matter experts, and diverse agency partners to gather broad perspectives and ensure the new brand was developed with inclusivity in mind.”
The company added that the Pearl Milling Company would commit $1 million in grants to “empower and uplift Black girls and women.”