Months back, I had read a wonderful, heartwarming story about Aunt Jemima®; the ladies who represented the Aunt Jemima brand. I noted this to myself and decided that I wanted to write an article about these ladies. Unfortunately, food is now on the list of “wokeness”, and the “politically correct left” have made their mark with politically correct food.
This branding, Aunt Jemima®, had its beginnings as a pancake mix in 1889, under the Pearl Milling Company. The Pearl Milling Company® was bought by Chris L. Rutt and Charles G. Underwood during a “flour glut”. In order to get rid of the excess flour, they decided to market their flour as a “Self-rising Pancake Flour”.
A “rising” food star
As they developed their pancake recipe to stand out from the rest, Rutt gave the mix the “Aunt Jemima” name, and her image was developed. Here is the original recipe:
1889 Formula for Aunt Jemima mix:
- 100 lb [45 kg] Hard Winter Wheat
- 100 lb [45 kg] Corn Flour
- 7 1⁄2 lb [3.4 kg] B.W.T. Phosphates from Provident Chemical St Louis
- 2 3⁄4 lb [1.2 kg] Bicarbonate Soda
- 3 lb [1.4 kg] Salt.
Unfortunately, Rutt and Underwood lacked serious funding to continue with their pancake formula as well as keeping their flour mill afloat, so they sold the mill and the pancake formula to the Randolph Truett Davis Milling Company.
The branding takes off
Randolph Truett Davis Milling Company had an excellent reputation in the milling industry, therefore they were financially able to stem the tide of the current flour glut. Davis went to work on improving the taste and texture of the Aunt Jemima pancake mix, as well as making it a “ready-mix” by adding powdered milk.
This new and improved “ready-mix” became wildly popular and so well branded that the Randolph Truett Davis Milling Company seized its opportunity by re-branding their milling company to the “Aunt Jemima Milling” in 1914.
Of interest, the Aunt Jemima® branding became so established and well know that it set trademark law precedent. The “Aunt Jemima Doctrine” was set forth in 1915, judicious protection from others seeking to blur or cause consumer confusion.
Quaker Oats steps on the scene
In 1926, Quaker Oats purchased Aunt Jemima Mills and then formally registered the Aunt Jemima brand. Quaker Oats held the Aunt Jemima® brand as well as the Aunt Jemima® pancake syrups.
Sadly, after the death of George Floyd, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter, Quaker Oats announced that they would be retiring the Aunt Jemima® brand and reintroducing it under its original name as the Pearl Milling Company®.
Look for this new change coming to your local grocery store in the early summer of 2021. It certainly will be different not seeing that friendly iconic face of “Aunt Jemima”.
Aunt Jemima’s history
There are many “Aunt Jemima’s” throughout the history of the brand. Many times there were “regional” Aunt Jemima’s. Some appearing at the World’s Fair, opening the Aunt Jemima Pancake House around the country, as well as appearances at Disneyland in the Aunt Jemima Pancake House.
I think it is interesting to note that during my research of “Aunt Jemima” many news outlets as well as magazines and papers catered to reporting on “Aunt Jemima” in derogatory tones. Choosing to see it as not having benefited black women, rather contributing the stereotyping of “slavery”, “mammy’s” and plantation life.
Meet the iconic Aunt Jemima’s
Here is a list of the iconic Aunt Jemima’s in no certain order:
- Nancy Green
- Lillian Richard
- Anna Robinson
- Rosa Washington Riles
- Anna Short Harrington
- Edith Wilson
- Ethel Ernestine Harper
- Rosie Lee Moore Hall
- Aylene Lewis
Tune in next week when I share details about these great ladies and their contribution to Black American Women’s corporate representation. Here is to good food, good friends and a good life.
Michele Bruxvoort is sure to draw you in with her delightful sense of humor and love for living life. She enjoys reading, repurposing, as well as remodeling the family home with her husband. Drawing from her life experience as wife, mom, and follower of Jesus, Michele brings you a very honest and real perspective on life. When you don’t find her writing, you can find her mowing lawns, stocking shelves, taking care of her grandbaby and tackling her latest life adventure.
Wisconsin native and empty-nester, she now makes her home with her husband of 27 years in the South West Prairie plains of Minnesota.