Aunt Jemima Syrup Gets A New Name After 131 Years

Aunt Jemima syrup officially has a new name: The Pearly Milling Company. 

The official name change was announced on Tuesday (February 9) by PepsiCo, which owns the syrup and pancake mix brand’s parent company, Quaker Oats. 

After carrying the name since 1889, the brand will take on its new name, which is connected to the original milling company in St. Joseph, Missouri, created a self-rising pancake mix and later became known as Aunt Jemima, according to a report by The New York Times

Quaker Oats started working on the name change last summer in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minnesota police officers. The protests sparked by his murder also fueled public discourse on America’s racism and how it’s perpetuated in society by symbols of racist, Civil War-era norms. 

Some people called out the company for Aunt Jemima’s name and logo for its connection to the “Mammy” archetype ascribed to Black women as doting caretakers. This archetype was seen in early cartoons, figurines, and other household merchandise, in addition to being used to sell pancake mix under the brand for years, playing into and profiting off a very real memory of the Old South. Aunt Jemima specifically stems from a 19th century song about missing the pre-Civil War South. 

This isn’t the first time the company has updated the Aunt Jemima brand. In 1968, the company had replaced the headscarf on Aunt Jemima’s character’s head with a plaid headband. In 1989, they added a lace collar to Jemima’s shirt and gave her pearl earrings. 

“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 company’s website says. Rebranded products are scheduled to hit store shelves in June. 

The Pearl Milling Company also announced that it is making a $1 million financial commitment to the empowerment of Black girls and women in addition to a $400 million, five-year investment in Black owned businesses, and increasing diversity at the company. 

Social media users posted their reactions to the name change announcement, with mixed reviews.

Mars Food announced last September their Uncle Ben’s rice foods will be renamed to Ben’s Original and that the older smiling Black man will no longer appear on its packaging. 

Photo: Getty Images

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