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Monday, March 10, 2014

Who is Aunt Jemima? The Amazing Story and History of One of America's Oldest Brands

Aunt Jemima

Few people in America would not instantly recognize the name Aunt Jemima. She's been around for 125 years, and she has been a welcomed face at the breakfast table in the homes of Americans everywhere since 1889.

Is she a real person?

Yes, she is actually a real person - well, actually persons. Many models have appeared as Aunt Jemima on boxes of pancake mix and syrup throughout the years - including Nancy Green (the first company spokesman), Anna Robinson, Edith Wilson, Rosie Lee Moore Hall and and Aylene Lewis. Because of their faces, Aunt Jemima has become a global icon.

Where did the name come from?

Created by Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood (two entrepreneurs who were not African-American), the name actually came from a vaudeville song by the same name whose performer wore the recognizable apron and bandanna headband that eventually became part of the company logo for ready-mixed, self-rising pancake flour.

In the late 1800's and early 1900's, millions of white families had Black servants in their house. And so, the concept of putting a Black face on a food product was thought of to be a genius concept. Although a real Aunt Jemima never existed, the marketing move was so successful that consumers believed she was the actual cook behind the recipe.

Mammy From Gone With The Wind?

Many women have had the privilege of portraying Aunt Jemima over the years, and her look has changed considerably to keep up with the times. From the original Aunt Jemima image that resembled Mammy in the epic movie Gone With The Wind to day's version of a thinner, more modern woman without the bandanna and kerchief, Aunt Jemima continues to flash a warm smile that is a welcome sight at the tables of millions of children and adults across the U.S.

Who Owns Aunt Jemima?

The Aunt Jemima is not Black-owned, and actually never was. Currently, Aunt Jemima Manufacturing Company is owned by the Quaker Oats Company in Chicago, IL. They bought the brand in 1926 and have owned it ever since.

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