Why Relatives Of The Real Aunt Jemima Aren't Happy

Aunt Jemima might have been part of America's collective breakfast experience for more than a century, but Quaker Oats has decided to give the brand a complete makeover. "We recognize Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype," senior Quaker foods executive Kristin Kroepfl said (via Business Insider). "While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough." 

Surprisingly, not everyone has been celebrating Aunt Jemima's impending retirement, including the great-grandson of Anna Short Harrington (who eventually took the place of the original Aunt Jemima, former slave Nancy Green, after Green passed away in 1923). 

Harrington's great-grandson, Larnell Evans, says Quaker not only took her likeness, but it also used her recipe to make the mix. "She worked for that Quaker Oats for 20 years," Evans told Patch. "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?"

Relatives say Aunt Jemima is part of their identity

Over in East Texas, the relatives of another woman who played Aunt Jemima named Lillian Richard aren't too happy about the decision to retire the breakfast icon either. Richard was a goodwill ambassador for Quaker Oats and traveled around the state as Aunt Jemima. "A lot of people want it removed," family historian Vera Harris told NBC 12. "We want the world to know that our cousin Lillian was one of the Aunt Jemimas and she made an honest living. We would ask that you reconsider just wiping all that away. There wasn't a lot of jobs, especially for black women back in that time. She was discovered by Quaker Oats to be their brand person. I wish we would take a breath and not just get rid of everything. Because good or bad, it is our history. Removing that wipes away a part of me. A part of each of us. We are proud of our cousin."

Quaker Oats has not yet responded to any of the comments. 

Aunt Jemima's rebranding kicked off other announcements that have since included Uncle Ben's, Mrs. Butterworth's, Cream of Wheat, and Eskimo Pie. New packaging can be expected before the end of the year — for Aunt Jemima at least.