Aunt Jemima and the Mammy
It’s Black History Month, y’all!
For the first week of Black History Month 2021, focused our posts on a history of racism in marketing. We decided to take a look at some racist branding, logos, and advertisements throughout the years.
1889: The Aunt Jemima brand was founded, just 26 years after the emancipation proclamation. The origins of the brand date back to 1889 in St. Joseph, Missouri when the owners of Pearl Milling Company, created the world’s first ready-made pancake mix. Shout-out to our VP, Kristine, who is also from St. Joseph.
To promote the new pancake mix, Rutt (one of the owners) named the product after a song name from a minstrel show featuring Mammy performers wearing an apron and bandanna headband singing “Old Aunt Jemima.” The first woman to play Aunt Jemima was an unidentified actress in St. Joseph in 1891.
Mammy is the most well known and enduring racial caricature of Black women. Aunt Jemima became Mammy’s most successful commercial expression. The tone of the Aunt Jemima ads also portrayed and contributed to racist stereotypes of Blacks as domestic servants.
Over 100 years since the creation of the Aunt Jemima mammy logo, you’d hope that brands would have moved on from using racist stereotypes.But during Black History Month in 2019, one of the world’s biggest luxury brands launched an $890 blackface sweater. After getting blasted on Twitter and being forced to remove its deeply offensive sweater from stores, Gucci then made the mind-blowing 🤯 statement that it didn’t know blackface images were racist.😬
In 2020, Aunt Jemima came under renewed criticism amid protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. Quaker Oats announced that it would be changing the name and logo of Aunt Jemima saying that the company recognized that “Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype.
Has anyone seen the new name and logo? Anybody? Anybody?