Aunt Jemima – Racial profiteering or Marketing genius?


Each time our kids open up a box of cereal or pancake mix during the rushed morning breakfast routine it would be unrealistic for us to sit and have a chat with them about the history behind the food, the food box and the food company. But when the time and opportunity is right these discussions are always very enriching and insightful. Let’s talk about pancakes, specifically, Aunt Jemima’s.

The business founders of this ready made pancake mix saw a character, Nancy Green, in a black-face minstrel show in the late 1800s. They appropriated the image to brand their new product. Sales soared.  The Aunt Jemima brand was meant to represent  warmth, nourishment and trust and Nancy Green did just that.  Sales took a sharp dive after her death. The brand was sold to Quaker Oats. Now that the facts have been laid bare let’s ponder – was the use of Nancy Green a brilliant marketing strategy or was it racial profiteering?

A measure of a child’s intellect is his/her ability to reason independently. As much as we want to raise awareness of racism or increase their business acumen we should give our girls the opportunity to analyse facts themselves and allow them to make their own conclusions.

MOCCA Mums, on a lighter, sweeter note, what is your must have topping on pancakes? In our team, there was a resounding ‘yes’ to maple syrup!


(Photo credit My American Market)