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Aunt Jemima to rebrand as Pearl Milling Company this summer

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionThe rebranded products will be on shelves starting in June

After 130 years on kitchen tables, Aunt Jemima products will have a new name: Pearl Milling Company.

The announcement from PepsiCo-brand comes almost eight months after the company said it would remove the Aunt Jemima name, acknowledging it was “based on a racial stereotype”.

The new name is a nod to the original mill that began producing the self-rising pancake mix in 1889.

The rebranded products will be available starting in June 2021.

The new Pearl Milling brand was “developed with inclusivity in mind”, PepsiCo said on Tuesday. In images released by the company, the new products bear the familiar red and yellow colour scheme of the existing products.

They include a printed label that says, “New Name Same Great Taste, Aunt Jemima”.

The original image used on Aunt Jemima products – a smiling black woman with a bandana in her hair – had been widely criticised for romanticising the antebellum South, a time before the US Civil War.

The first Aunt Jemima character was based on Nancy Green, a storyteller, cook and missionary born into slavery in Kentucky in 1834. The name itself was taken from a character from minstrel shows in the 1800s that mocked African-Americans.

Quaker Oats, a division of PepsiCo Inc, bought the Aunt Jemima brand in 1925 and updated the image over time – replacing the kerchief on the character’s head with a plaid headband and later adding pearl earrings and a lace collar.

The changes were “intended to remove racial stereotypes”, the company said in a press release.

This summer, as racial justice protests swept across the US following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody, the brand was faced with renewed criticism.

In June 2020, it became one of the first major brands to announce it would change its name to avoid racial stereotypes.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionUncle Ben’s rice products will also be rebranded

The company also pledged a $5m (£3.6m) “commitment to support the black community”. On Tuesday, it announced an additional $1m (£720,000) investment aimed at black girls and women.

In September, Mars Food announced it would rename Uncle Ben’s rice products to Ben’s Original and remove the image of a smiling, grey-haired black man from its packaging.

Uncle, like aunt, was used in southern US states to refer to black people, instead of the more formal “Miss” or “Mister”.

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