Removing Stereotypes – Goodbye Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, Mrs Butterworth and the Cream of Wheat Chef

 In Business, opinion, Politics

Removing stereotypes from iconic foods has become a trend. Aunt Jemima Syrup and Pancake mix, Uncle Ben’s Rice, Mrs Butterworth’s Syrup, and the Cream of Wheat Chef are all on the chopping block as companies scramble to rebrand their products. But Aunt Jemima’s great-grandson isn’t happy about the move, and says it’s erasing his family history.

Removing stereotypes

Patch.com reported,

The first “Aunt Jemima” debuted at Chicago’s World’s Fair in 1893. Former enslaved woman Nancy Green, who worked as a cook on the South Side, was hired to wear an apron and headscarf while serving pancakes to folks who came to visit the fairgrounds known as “The White City.” Green embodied the Aunt Jemima character until her death in 1923.

Evans says his great-grandmother — the late Anna Short Harrington — took Green’s place.

Harrington was born on a South Carolina plantation where her family worked as sharecroppers. In 1927, a white family from New York “bought” Harrington to be their maid. She made a living as cook at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house in Syracuse and worked for wealthy white people, including Gov. Thomas E. Dewey. She was discovered by a Quaker Oats representative while serving up her pancakes, a favorite of local frat boys, at the New York State Fair in 1935…”

“She worked for that Quaker Oats for 20 years. She traveled all the way around the United States and Canada making pancakes as Aunt Jemima for them. This woman served all those people, and it was after slavery. She worked as Aunt Jemima. That was her job. … How do you think I feel as a black man sitting here telling you about my family history they’re trying to erase?” Larnell Evans Sr, Marine Corps veteran

Mars, Inc decided to get rid of the “Uncle Ben” on Uncle Ben’s rice. Only that, too is a depiction of a real person: Frank Brown, was the maitre d’ at an exclusive restaurant in Chicago. Likewise the picture on the Cream of Wheat box is a depiction of a real person: Chef Frank L. White, was a chef in Chicago.

The Land O’Lakes butter image of a Native American woman was painted by Patrick DesJarlait, who was a local Ojibwe artist. The image had been changed several times prior to Mr. DesJarlait’s depiction, but he was an actual Native. It was his desire to foster a dialog between Native Americans and non-Natives. The company decided to ‘redesign’ the image of “Mia” and remove the Native maiden entirely, changing the logo to say “Farmer Owned” this year.

Activists are not happy with stereotyping of any race or ethnic group. They are very happy that these companies have decided to change their branding. But it not only removes family history from these products, they reminded us of history itself.

Yes, these companies made money on the backs of the depictions of real people, and no, they didn’t pay royalties for the use of the images. But it seems that the trend is to rename and change everything, even US Military bases, in an effort to pretend that our history didn’t happen.

Newsflash: removing stereotypes won’t change the facts of American history. But it will gloss it over so that current and future generations may have to repeat the same mistakes.

Featured photo: via Marketwatch stock photo

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Showing 7 comments
  • Heather Bushulak
    Reply

    Aunt jemima was an example of goodness , hard work and delicious syrup. She accomplished so much in her time and to erase it in one minute is so sad. Rip Aunt Jemina
    Plus I didn’t even realize there was a black man on rice , didn’t notice cream of wheat box either, or Mrs butterworth.
    You know if they remove every thing how will anyone coming up know how hard they worked for freedom and how they were treated and whose going to be there 100 years from now to remind them that they worked so hard to just be themselves. We all bleed the same colour. I loved all of these products I don’t consider myself a racist. I have every colour and race in my family as a matter of fact. We need to slow down and think things through a bit more. Rant over!!!!

  • C Oster
    Reply

    Why is it ok to remove the images of these black people yet keep the image of the white male Quaker on the oatmeal packaging?

  • Ann Marie Bryant
    Reply

    I grew up eating Cream of wheat…that was my baby food. I Loved it…I would eat THAT instead of oatmeal.

  • Dianne Finnegan
    Reply

    I’ve never looked at the color of the aunt Jemima or Uncle Ben’s or Cream of wheat icons. They are people with a heritage and families left out of that heritage now. Shame on these companies removing icons that have lasted generations. I’ll be buying boxes of these items to keep as history evolves into nothing special.

  • MICHAEL. A. ELLIS
    Reply

    These Companies are SLAVES!! SLAVES
    To a Maddening Public that is Very
    Rapidly putting The Ruins to Life as
    We Know/Knew it…..
    It is up to The Companies themselves
    To Stand Up to these Anarchists
    And MORON–ITY OF This Time….
    Stand Up to your Products with
    Dignity!!! And for Anyone that agrees
    And feels the Uneasiness….Well, Let”s keep
    Putting the word out…..We Need Our
    Country Back…..

  • Michael
    Reply

    The Land o Lakes girl was drawn by Ojibwe artist Patrick DesJarlait, who was paid for his work.
    The original Aunt Jemima was a spokesperson and promoter, and was paid for her work at at time when blacks rarely were, especially black women.
    The Redskins logo in use today was first designed in 1971 in close consultation with Native American leaders. Among those who unanimously approved and voiced praise for the logo was Walter “Blackie” Wetzel, a former President of the National Congress of American Indians and Chairman of the Blackfeet Nation.
    The Indian on Savage firearms furnished his artist’s image of himself in exchange for a large number of rifles for his tribe.

    Democrats are just finishing the extermination of native and black culture they started a couple of centuries ago.

  • Donna MARIE Martin
    Reply

    Aunt Jemima work her ass off making her mark in this world!! To remove her from any of your products most especially with her picture on it, would be the same as spitting in her face!! DON’T DO IT!! She was a FREE woman and wanted to make her own way and she did! Because if you do it will NOT only be disrespectful to her memory which is most important, BUT if you do, i have NO DOUBT your sales will plummet!!!!!

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