Aunt Jemima finally has a new name nearly a year after announcing it would be retiring the logo and 130-year-old name that had roots in minstrelsy and racist stereotypes.
The Quaker Oats-owned brand announced that it will now be known as the Pearl Milling Company, with duly repackaged pancake mixes and syrups hitting store shelves in June 2021, according to a press release.
The new name comes from a mill that was founded in 1888 in St. Joseph, Missouri.
“Using a pearl milling technique, they produced flour, cornmeal, and, beginning in 1889, the famous self-rising pancake mix that would go on to be known as Aunt Jemima,” the brand’s updated website reads. Accordingly, the new logo depicts an old-fashioned mill. The brand’s red, white, and yellow color scheme remains the same.
“This name is a nod to where our delicious products began before becoming a family-favorite breakfast staple,” PepsiCo, which owns Quaker Oats, told CNN. “While the Aunt Jemima brand was updated over the years in a manner intended to remove racial stereotypes, it has not progressed enough to appropriately reflect the dignity, respect and warmth that we stand for today.”
In its press release, Pearl Milling Company also announced that it will pledge $1 million to “empower and uplift Black girls and women” through grants to non-profit organizations, in addition to PepsiCo’s “$400 million, five-year investment to uplift Black business and communities, and increase Black representation at PepsiCo.”
The rebrand was widely battered online for sounding like an unappetizing “gravel mining company” or “a James Bond villain.”
“I think it sounds like a gravel mining company,” lawyer Michelle Rozovics wrote.
Another said Pearl Milling Company sounded like “something owned by a James Bond Villain.”
Meanwhile, one critic noted, “Pearl Milling Company? Sounds like a generic house brand for Dollar General.”
That's what I was thinking, too. I probably would have gone with something invoking home & hearth, like Grandma's Old Fashioned Syrup. Pearl Milling Company sounds like a grain product.
— Teresa Rothaar (@trothaar) February 10, 2021
"at Pearl Milling Company, we pride ourselves in making the best quality maple syrup"
The Commercial: pic.twitter.com/zN9mSk5tPa
— ElvisBrows27 (@ElvisBrows27) February 10, 2021