The Quaker Oats Company recently made a public decision to forgo their notorious “Aunt Jemima” pancake brand due to the racial undertones of its origin. The origin and logo come from a late 1800’s song, which was reportedly sung by slaves, entitled “Old Aunt Jemima.” In 1890, the founder of the “Aunt Jemima” line created a logo based upon the former slave, story teller, cook and missionary worker, Nancy Green.
The Aunt Jemima brand was originally purchased by Quaker in the 1930’s. Throughout history, the brand has received numerous complaints and backlash to change its logo due to its racist origins. Finally, as a result of uproar from the Black Lives Matter movement, Quaker, amongst numerous other brands, is finally taking a deeper look at its own origins in order to make a change.
Although the Aunt Jemima logo has evolved over time, the brand could not let go of the logo with the woman who “has brown skin with white accents, brown and white eyes, brown and white hair, brown eyelashes, and brown eyebrows” as described in their recently approved and updated trademark logo that was filed in November 2019 and approved recently by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Despite the company no longer using the trademarked logo, we believe they will likely hold on tight to the trademark registration because if they can’t have Aunt Jemima, then no one can. Do you believe Quaker will surrender the Aunt Jemima trademark, or hold on to it? Let us know how you think this will unfold!