Aunt Jemima Syrup Is Getting a New Look

By Elijah Labby Friday, February 12, 2021

In the business world, branding is everything and can make or break a product. The Aunt Jemima brand is no different, which is why a recent controversy over the long-standing brand name has surfaced, resulting in a new look and name for the syrup. PepsiCo, which owns the Aunt Jemima parent company Quaker Oats, announced that the new syrup’s name will be Pearl Milling Company.

A bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup.

It has been known for some time that the company was changing up the business logo in response to criticism that the Aunt Jemima character was an offensive stereotype, just not what her replacement would be.

According to PepsiCo, the Pearl Milling Company name refers to the milling company of the same name in St. Joseph, Missouri, which originally created the self-rising pancake mix.

A Time for Change for the Aunt Jemima Pancake Business

The Aunt Jemima character has been on pancake products like mixes and syrups for over a century, but the business said it was time for a change.

“Last June, PepsiCo and The Quaker Oats Company made a commitment to change the name and image of Aunt Jemima, recognizing that they do not reflect our core values,” the business said on its website.

A Focus on Inclusivity for the Company

The PepsiCo company said the process was one they made with reflection and input from people who may have been impacted by the Aunt Jemima image and said that inclusivity was at the forefront of the decision-making process of their business.

“Throughout the effort that led to the new Pearl Milling Company name, Quaker worked with consumers, employees, external cultural and subject-matter experts,” the business said in a statement.

The new logo, which the business says on its company website will hit shelves in Summer 2021, features an image of the mill. The rest of the company packaging for many of the products is largely untouched, with the same fonts, colors, and images left intact.

The business, in an attempt to regain the confidence of consumers offended by the previous logo, said it would soon announce the "details of a $1 million commitment to empower and uplift Black girls and women, inviting the community to visit its website and nominate non-profit organizations for an opportunity to receive grants to further that mission."

Other Business Reckonings in the Food Industry

Aunt Jemima isn’t the only business that faced backlash for its depictions of black people following the protests last summer. Brands like Uncle Ben’s Rice and Cream of Wheat announced that their business packaging would no longer feature images of the characters deemed offensive by some consumers (Uncle Ben’s also changed its name to Ben’s Original).

At the time of the announcement, the PepsiCo company was down on the stock market by 0.8%. It is unclear whether the business will sustain growth after the controversy, but what is clear is that in a $611 billion food and beverage industry, the company has a lot to lose.

About the Author

Headshot for author Elijah Labby

Elijah Labby is a graduate of the National Journalism Center. He has previously written for Broadband Breakfast, a technology and internet policy website.

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