News & Politics

Iconic 'Aunt Jemima' and 'Uncle Ben' Get Name Changes

(Image credit: Mike Mozart via Flickr CC BY 2.0)

Iconic brands Aunt Jemima pancakes and syrup and Uncle Ben’s rice are being retired after someone noticed they were racist.

In truth, black activists have been agitating for Quaker Oats Company and Mars, Inc. to change the names for decades. It’s marvelous what a little rioting will do to scare the bejeebers out of corporations and bend them to your will.

What makes the two brand names particularly revolting is that they harken back to the antebellum South, where Aunt Jemima was in the kitchen and Uncle Ben was the trusted man-servant/slave. It’s probably not too much to ask that blacks should be able to go to the grocery store and not be reminded of their former enforced servitude.

Associated Press:

The owner of the Uncle Ben’s brand of rice says the brand will “evolve” in response to concerns about racial stereotyping. The announcement Wednesday arrived hours after Quaker Oats said it was retiring its Aunt Jemima brand of syrup and pancake mixes. Caroline Sherman, a spokeswoman for Mars, which owns Uncle Ben’s, says the company is listening to the voices of consumers, especially in the black community, and recognizes that now is the right time to evolve the brand, including its visual identity.

This follows the decision earlier in the year by Land O’Lakes to ditch its equally iconic Native American girl on its butter.

NBC reports that Quaker Oats knew Aunt Jemima was a racist stereotype.

“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a press release. “As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations.”

The history of using racial stereotypes in advertising and product promotion is a long one. Anyone remember “Darkie Toothpaste”? That product was sold in China under that name until even the commies realized it was racist and changed the name to “Darlie.”

But the grinning black man on the box is still there.

There were “Ni**er Tees,” and “Ni**er Head Oysters,” and a host of blatantly obscene racist products and images in advertising. The fake documentary film, C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, features actual products that once graced American store shelves. It was shameful to use racial stereotypes in this way and we are well rid of them.

But the problem is that the mob now has America’s kitchens under the microscope and they are looking for even the most minute evidence of “racism” in products. If they can twist, fold, bend, spindle, or mutilate anything that even hints of racism, they will.

We used to identify people using stereotypes. Poles were stupid, Germans were industrious, Brits were reserved, blacks were all happy, dancing, watermelon-eating people who longed to go back to the plantation. All you have to do is look at TV at the time and, for the most part, Hollywood reinforced those stereotypes with a vengeance.

I don’t think we can judge people from afar. Were they wrong to think that way? By our lights, yes. But most people thought themselves tolerant and open-minded — even about race.

That they weren’t “woke” enough to realize otherwise is not their fault.

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