PepsiCo Rebrands Aunt Jemima as Pearl Milling Company, Retiring Racist Character
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Aunt Jemima syrups and pancake mixes will be rebranded as Pearl Milling Company, PepsiCo said on Tuesday.
"Though new to store shelves, Pearl Milling Company was founded in 1888 in St. Joseph, Missouri, and was the originator of the iconic self-rising pancake mix that would later become known as Aunt Jemima," the company said in a press release.
PepsiCo, which owns Quaker Oats, said in June 2020 it would change the brand name on its Aunt Jemima products, which had long been criticized for their roots in racial stereotypes.
Launched about 130 years ago, the Aunt Jemima brand was in part based on racist stereotyping and imagery, like those seen in minstrel show performances.
"While work has been done over the years to evolve our brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize that those changes are not enough," the company said on its updated website on Tuesday.
Aunt Jemima products.
Aunt Jemima was one of several brands on grocery store shelves that came under scrutiny last year, as the US erupted with protests following the killing of George Floyd. The Uncle Ben's brand, owned by Mars, in September became Ben's Original. That brand also dropped its character image.
The newly rebranded Pearl Milling products will begin hitting shelves in June, PepsiCo said. The company's products will continue to be Aunt Jemima until then, though they'll no longer use the character images.
The company on Tuesday released pictures of its newly rebranded products, which have the familiar red-white-and-yellow coloring. They've been updated with the new brand name, along with smaller tags that say: "New name, same great taste, Aunt Jemima."
Along with the rebranding, PepsiCo said Pearl Milling Company planned to announce a $1 million grant program committed to empowering black girls and women. PepsiCo previously announced an about $400 million investment in black businesses and communities, the company said.