On Wednesday, the much-renowned brand PepsiCo Inc said it will change the name and brand image of its Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup. This mascot has been criticized for a racist history, amid a national debate over racial inequality in the United States.
The logo of the more than 130-year-old brand features an African-American woman named after a character from 19th-century minstrel shows. The offensive caricature is rooted in a stereotype of a friendly black woman working as a servant or nanny for a white family.
PepsiCo‘s gesture has been followed by several other brands such as, ConAgra Brands Inc introduced a full review of its Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup, whose package is meant to evoke a “loving grandmother.”
Rice brand Uncle Ben’s also said it was considering updating its brand with new features. A white-haired African-American man named after a Texas rice farmer.
The moves are part of Corporate America’s estimation with the treatment of African Americans in-between weeks of protests over racism and police brutality since the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis.
Aunt Jemima had been called out in recent days on social media. A TikTok video called “How to Make A Non Racist Breakfast” by user @singkirbysing, in which a woman pours the pancake mix down the sink, got over 109,000 views on Instagram since Tuesday when it was posted.
ConAgra said its packaging could be interpreted “in a way that is wholly inconsistent with our values” and that it has begun a complete brand and packaging review on Mrs. Butterworth’s“.
Mars said it had also felt that it should take up some responsibility and help to put an end to racial bias and injustices. It said “one way we can do this is by evolving the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity.”
“We don’t yet know what the exact changes or timing will be, but we are evaluating all possibilities,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.