'Aunt Jemima' Products Will Now Be Branded as 'Pearl Milling Company'
The new name comes from the original mill where Aunt Jemima pancake mix was first produced back in 1889.
Last year, Quaker announced they would be changing the name of their Aunt Jemima brand, part of a larger reckoning with companies confronting their racially-incentive branding in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. By September, Uncle Ben's had rebranded as Ben's Original and Cream of Wheat had chosen to remove its chef. But though the Aunt Jemima images were removed from pancake packaging, the choice for a new name hadn't been revealed until yesterday: Pearl Milling Company.
Aunt Jemima was originally founded in 1889. In 1925, the brand was bought by Quaker Oats, and then, in 2001, Quaker Oats was acquired by PepsiCo. In searching for a new name, PepsiCo dug back through all of that history to determine the brand's origins—and that's where Pearl Milling Company comes into the picture. As PepsiCo explains, "Pearl Milling Company was founded in 1888 in St. Joseph, Missouri, and was the originator of the iconic self-rising pancake mix that would later become known as Aunt Jemima."
PepsiCo's announcement doesn't include further details, but the history of the Aunt Jemima brand is well-documented. According to a 2013 article in Lancaster Farming, the original self-rising pancake mix was created by entrepreneurs Charles Rutt and Charles Underwood in the late 1880s. They bought the Pearl Milling Company out of bankruptcy in 1889 to launch their venture—which they named Aunt Jemima after a minstrel show. But Rutt and Underwood's mix wasn't enough to save Pearl Milling Company, and just a year later, they sold to the R.T. Davis Milling Company, which made changes to the formula and eventually had so much success with the brand that, in 1913, they changed their name to Aunt Jemima Mills.
All of this was likely looked at during the course of the name process. "Throughout the effort that led to the new Pearl Milling Company name, Quaker worked 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," PepsiCo adds.
Customers should start seeing Pearl Milling Company-branded pancake mixes, syrups, cornmeal, flour, and grits on store shelves in June 2021—and though the name has changed, the package is very similar, maintaining its red, white, and yellow color scheme in the same font. The logo is now a mill. And, for the time being, at least, the packaging will feature messaging on the front stating, "Same Great Taste [as] Aunt Jemima."
Additionally, PepsiCo also announced that Pearl Milling Company will be behind a "$1 million commitment to empower and uplift Black girls and women, inviting the community to visit its website and nominate non-profit organizations for an opportunity to receive grants to further that mission."
This story originally appeared on foodandwine.com