In June 2020, the Quaker Oats Aggregation appear that it would be re-branding its Aunt Jemima band of articles — syrup, pancake mix, and added breakfast foods — because the brand’s origins were based on ancestral stereotypes. Kristin Kroepfl, carnality admiral and arch business administrator of Quaker Foods Arctic America, told NBC News:
“We admit Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a ancestral stereotype. While assignment has been done over the years to amend the cast in a address advised to be adapted and respectful, we apprehend those changes are not enough.”
This accommodation acquired some online abuse as amusing media users accused Quaker Oats of abatement its history and abbreviating the accomplishments of Nancy Green, the woman who portrayed Aunt Jemima in promotional abstracts in the backward 1800s and aboriginal 1900s. Many of these posts claimed that Green was one of the aboriginal African American millionaires because of the bulk of money she becoming arena Aunt Jemima:
The origins of Aunt Jemima can be traced aback to 1889 back Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood created a self-rising pancake mix. The artefact originally agitated the name “self-rising pancake flour,” but Rutt was aggressive to change the name of the mix afterwards he abounding a accompanist appearance and saw men dressed in blackface accomplish a song advantaged “Old Aunt Jemima.”
The Encyclopedia of African American Accepted Culture writes:
In the abatement of 1889, Rutt was aggressive to rename the mix afterwards accessory a accompanist show, during which a accepted song blue-blooded “Old Aunt Jemima” was performed by men in blackface, one of whom was dressed as a bondservant assistant of the acreage South.
While Rutt and Underwood developed this self-rising mix and contributed the “Aunt Jemima” name, they were clumsy to about-face their artefact into a bartering success. The duo awash their milling aggregation to R.T. Davis, who, with Green’s help, would go on to actualize the persona of Aunt Jemima and about-face the cast into a civic product.
Davis assassin Green, who was built-in a bondservant in Kentucky in 1834, to portray Aunt Jemima at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. Green, as Aunt Jemima, served pancakes to the army and told romanticized “stories” of her time on the plantation. While these belief were presented as if they were the 18-carat memories of Aunt Jemima, Green was, of course, aloof arena a fabulous character.
In “Mammy: A Century of Race, Gender, and Southern Memory,” columnist Kimberly Wallace-Sanders writes:
At one point the best reliable agency of accumulation the country complex inducing a affectionate of civic absent-mindedness about the history of slavery. Aunt Jemima was created to bless advanced technology through a pancake mix; she did not bless the affiance of post-Emancipation advance for African Americans. Aunt Jemima’s “freedom” was negated, or revoked, in this role because of the character’s persona as a acreage slave, not a chargeless atramentous woman active as a domestic. An African American woman, assuming to be a slave, was cardinal to the trademark’s bartering accomplishment in 1893. Its success revolved about the fantasy of abiding a atramentous woman to a sanitized adaptation of slavery. The Aunt Jemima appearance complex a corruption of chase relations, and her appearance helped conductor in a arresting improvement of the “happy slave” belief of the antebellum South.
Nancy Green, a above bondservant from Kentucky, played the aboriginal Aunt Jemima. Green was a middle-aged woman active on the South Side of Chicago, alive as a baker and charwoman for a arresting judge. Afterwards a alternation of auditions, she was assassin to baker and serve the new pancake compound at the World’s Fair. Allotment of her act was to acquaint belief from her own aboriginal bondservant activity forth with acreage tales accounting for her by a white southern sales representative. This aggregate of celebrated and allegorical acreage was advised to bolster the “historical absent-mindedness all-important for aplomb in the American future.” That this absent-mindedness occurred at the bulk of African American advance was acutely not an affair for the Pearl Milling Company, the artist of Aunt Jemima.
A announcement account the “life” of Aunt Jemima, which portrayed her as a “happy” bondservant with a “secret recipe” alive at a acreage endemic by Colonel Higbee of Louisiana, was additionally created for the 1893 World’s Fair, and laid the foundation for approaching advertisements to body on the Aunt Jemima myth.
One antiquity from the aboriginal canicule of Aunt Jemima’s fabulous history was a set of cardboard dolls that allegedly showed Aunt Jemima and her ancestors afore and afterwards they awash her abstruse pancake recipe. The “before” set included six cardboard dolls afterwards shoes and dressed in bare clothing, while the “after” set included a set of “fancy” clothes.
But these dolls, like best of the fabulous belief surrounding Aunt Jemima, did not accurately reflect reality.
We accept been clumsy to acquisition any specific capacity about how abundant Green was paid for her assuming of Aunt Jemima. The evidence, however, suggests that Green did not become affluent from her assignment and was acceptable paid a paltry sum.
In “Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Bondservant in Twentieth-Century America,” Micki McElya writes that in 1900, Green listed her activity as a “cook.” While this may accept referred to her job demonstrating pancake mix as Aunt Jemima, in 1910, she was alive as a “housekeeper.”
In that year (1900) she listed her activity as “cook,” which could accept referred to her job demonstrating Aunt Jemima pancake mix or abroad adumbrated that her primary application remained in calm service. The closing was the case in 1910, back she appear her job as “housekeeper” in a clandestine residence. Performing as the trademarked assistant was not her primary job by that time, if it anytime had been.
We accomplished out to McElya for added advice about what budgetary payments Green accustomed for her assuming of Aunt Jemima. McElya couldn’t point to a specific dollar amount, but she did say that she “found no affirmation that Nancy Green died a millionaire in 1923,” and that “the accessible affirmation suggests otherwise.”
M.M. Manring, the columnist of “Slave in A Box: The Strange Career of Aunt Jemima,” additionally told us that “all of the accessible affirmation … would advance that [Nancy Green] was about absolutely not clearly wealthy.” Manring additionally addressed the angle that Green was accustomed a “lifetime contract” to portray Aunt Jemima. This “lifetime contract,” according to Manring, was allotment of the belief created for the appearance of “Aunt Jemima” – but there’s no affirmation that it absolutely activated to Green.
I’ve been through the J. Walter Thompson athenaeum at Duke, area so abundant of the affidavit accompanying to the Aunt Jemima attack are stored, and never begin any advertence to her pay. None of her obituaries acknowledgment annihilation apropos her wealth. If she had a $1 actor affluence in, say, 1920, adapted for inflation, that’s the agnate of about $13 actor today, by my calculations. It would be hasty to me if all ancillary accounts of her bootless to accomplish any acknowledgment of her all-inclusive wealth.
All of the accessible evidence, such as it is, would advance that she was about absolutely not clearly wealthy. She was adequate abundant to accord to her abbey and do missionary work, but so were affluence of added bodies of accustomed means. As for the “lifetime contract,” that was a big allotment of the advance of Aunt Jemima. You see the aforementioned accent in the ads – that a milling aggregation in Chicago brought Aunt Jemima arctic and gave her a lifetime contract, and alike paid her in gold. I accept never begin nor to apprehend to acquisition affidavit of a contract, and again, I can’t prove a negative. But I do anticipate you accept to put that affirmation in ambience with a long-running ad attack that alloyed allegory and reality, and bodies absolute and imagined.
Obituaries for Green appear in The Chicago Tribune and Daily Herald additionally fabricated no acknowledgment of her actuality one of the aboriginal African American women to become a millionaire:
While no affirmation exists to advance that Green died a millionaire, she did accomplish abundant money (as both a charwoman and for her promotional assignment as Aunt Jemina) to abutment the missionary assignment of the Olivet Baptist Abbey in Chicago.
It should additionally be acclaimed that Green’s birth (as able-bodied as the birth of addition Atramentous woman who portrayed Aunt Jemima) filed a accusation adjoin Quaker Oats, arguing that the aggregation exploited Green, and that her ancestors was owed billions in royalties, USA Today reported. The accusation was afterwards absolved afterwards a adjudicator disqualified that the plaintiffs did not accommodate affidavit that they were accompanying to the women who portrayed Aunt Jemima:
Now, a accusation claims that Green’s brood as able-bodied as the birth of added atramentous women who appeared as Aunt Jemima deserve $2 billion and a allotment of approaching acquirement from sales of the accepted brand.
The federal suit, filed in Chicago in August by two great-grandsons of Anna Short Harrington, says that she and Green were key in formulating the compound for the nation’s aboriginal self-rising pancake mix, and that Green came up with the abstraction of abacus delicate milk for added flavor.
“Aunt Jemima has become accepted as one of the best exploited and abused women in American history,” said D.W. Hunter, one of Harrington’s great-grandsons.
The rumor that Green died a millionaire is, like abundant of the ballad surrounding Aunt Jemima, not accurate by actual evidence. This affirmation is unfounded, and all of the actual we advised suggests that Green was not clearly wealthy. Therefore, we’ve rated this rumor false.
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