Back in June 2020, as the nation grappled with the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd by police, dozens of major corporations released statements pledging to do better by the American public. Quaker Oats, parent company of Aunt Jemima, was one of them. In recognition of the fact that “Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype” (her name and likeness are derived from 19th-century minstrel shows), the company pledged to rename and rebrand Aunt Jemima pancake mixes and syrups. Yesterday, it was announced via press release that Pearl Milling Company, the newly unveiled name and redesign, will be hitting store shelves this June. (From now until June, the product will continue being sold under the Aunt Jemima name, just without her character image on the label.)
Technically, Pearl Milling Company is being presented as a reintroduction, because, as the press release explains, “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 box will still be red, the font will still be comfortingly old-timey, and the company will still be able to print “SINCE 1888” on the label, to reassure shoppers that this is a legacy product.
“Throughout the effort that led to the new Pearl Milling Company name, Quaker worked with consumers, employees, external cultural and subject-matter experts, and diverse agency partners to gather broad perspectives and ensure the new brand was developed with inclusivity in mind,” reads the press release. In addition to the rebrand of Aunt Jemima, The Quaker Oats Company is pledging $5 million to support the Black community, as well as $1 million specifically to “empower and uplift Black girls and women.”
The company is encouraging the public to nominate nonprofit organizations to receive the grant money. There doesn’t appear to be a specific portal through which to submit these nominations (maybe one is on the way?), but in the meantime, there’s a page explaining the reasons behind the rebrand, complete with a contact form to share your thoughts about the changes the company is making.