After announcing in June 2020 that Aunt Jemima would be rebranded, owner PepsiCo announced Tuesday the breakfast brand's new look and name: Pearl Milling Company.
All of Pearl Milling Company's pancake mixes, syrups and miscellaneous breakfast items will retain the recipes and varieties that were once under the Aunt Jemima brand. The new packaging is expected to hit shelves in June 2021, but Aunt Jemima-branded products will remain for sale until then, albeit without the image of its character.
Other food brands using the likenesses and names of Black people — such as Uncle Ben's, Cream of Wheat and Mrs. Butterworth's — to sell products have also announced rebranding efforts. The wave of announcements were made as protests were happening across the country to fight against racial injustice, systemic racism against Black people and police brutality following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black individuals.
Conversations surrounding the use of Black stereotypes to be removed from food products had occurred long before the protests in 2020. Riché Richardson, an associate professor at Cornell University, penned an op-ed for the The New York Times in 2015, detailing the racist history of Aunt Jemima. Nancy Green, who was born into slavery, was the face of Aunt Jemima, after its founders became infatuated by a song called “Old Aunt Jemima,” which was sung by a performer in blackface.
According to PepsiCo's press release, Aunt Jemima's rebrand to Pearl Milling Company included working with "consumers, employees, external cultural and subject-matter experts, and diverse agency partners to gather broad perspectives and ensure the new brand was developed with inclusivity in mind." The new name also happens to be not so new. Founded in 1888, Pearl Milling Company is the company that invented the self-rising pancake mix that made the Aunt Jemima brand famous.
Following the rebrand announcement, Pearl Milling Company is expected to detail a $1 million commitment to empower and uplift Black girls and women. The $1 million commitment follows PepsiCo's five-year investment of $400 million to support Black businesses and communities, and an increase in Black representation within PepsiCo.