For 131 years, Aunt Jemima, the breakfast brand of pancake mixes and flavored syrups, has perpetuated a racial stereotype against Black people. Announced today, growing pressure from the public has pushed the brand’s owner, Quaker Oats, to remove the Aunt Jemima logo from its products later in 2020, with a name change to be announced at a later date.
The Aunt Jemima name and brand was born after its original founders were enchanted by a song called “Old Aunt Jemima,” sung by a performer in blackface. Nancy Green, who was born into slavery, became the face of Aunt Jemima and traveled the country promoting Aunt Jemima’s pancake mixes.
For years there has been growing outcry over the use of Aunt Jemima’s name and likeness to sell a line of breakfast foods. In a 2015 New York Times op-ed, Riché Richardson, an associate professor at Cornell University, wrote: “This Aunt Jemima logo was an outgrowth of Old South plantation nostalgia and romance grounded in an idea about the ‘mammy,’ a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own.”
Aunt Jemima’s line of pancake syrups will always carry a nostalgia factor for some, but its taste will never rank high on a leaderboard. The first two ingredients in the brand’s syrups are corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup (followed by water). While Aunt Jemima’s rebranding is long overdue, its popularity is vexing as well. We asked a couple of our on-staff Vermonters and maple syrup enthusiasts to recommend syrups you should be using over the syrup formerly known as Aunt Jemima.
Slopeside Syrup Organic Pure Vermont Maple Syrup
For 10 years, the grandchildren of a ski resort owner in Vermont have been tapping into the 20,000+ maple trees on the property. Each syrup grade is perfect for specific uses whether it be a food topper or a baking addition. Regardless, each of Slopeside’s Syrups are pure maple syrup, no corn syrup in sight.
H.N. Williams Store Vermont Maple Syrup Pint Can
According to our outdoors and fitness writer, and proud Vermonter, Tanner Bowden, most Vermont maple syrup brands are small and use their farm’s name as the brand. His favorite syrup comes from local farms in Mettowee Valley. The farm’s sugar bush trees produce some of the best maple syrup from the Green Mountain State.
Escuminac Extra Rare Maple Syrup
The sweet golden liquid inside is just as good as the packaging and branding. Like a fine whiskey, Escuminac’s maple syrups are handcrafted in small batches. Martin Malenfant harvests the maple syrup in Quebec, Canada, early in the season to get a delicate, silky maple syrup. If you like this for topping your pancakes and waffles, check out the brand’s other varieties of maple syrup to add to your baked goods and recipes.
Brown Family Farm Maple Syrup
Buy Brown’s flagship maple syrup in bulk because a drizzle now and again is never enough. Buying Brown’s maple syrup means you’re supporting a small local farm that dedicates itself to producing the highest quality products and respecting the environment and its bounties. The Grade A Amber/Rich syrup is the farm’s choice for table syrup with a smooth maple flavor and a mid-range darkness level.
Noble Tonic 02: Tahitian Vanilla Bean & Egyptian Chamomile Blossom Maple Syrup
As much as we love an unadulterated maple syrup, Noble Tonic’s use of vanilla and chamomile add some flair to the pure stuff. The Tahitian vanilla is described as “delicate, floral and fruity aroma,” which complements the Egyptian chamomile blossom’s “buttery apple-like flavor.”
Pappy & Company Pappy Barrel-aged Maple Syrup
Pappy & Co., started by descendants of Pappy Van Winkle, partners with local brands and gives them a bourbon punch. For this maple syrup, Ohio’s Bissell Maple Farm provides the sap that Pappy & Co. ages for six months in Pappy Van Winkle 15-year barrels. Bourbon was probably far away from the breakfast table when you were a kid, but now its flavor is in your maple syrup (there is no actual alcohol in the syrup).
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