The pancake syrup brand Mrs. Butterworth’s — known for its matronly woman-shaped bottle — will undergo a “complete brand and packaging review,” a spokesperson for Conagra Brands said Wednesday. The development comes after parent companies for Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s announced that the two product lines will see branding changes of their own.
“We understand that our actions help play an important role in eliminating racial bias and as a result, we have begun a complete brand and packaging review on Mrs. Butterworth’s,” Conagra Brands Communications Manager Dan Skinner told Forbes. The company added:
We stand in solidarity with our Black and Brown communities and we can see that our packaging may be interpreted in a way that is wholly inconsistent with our values. It’s heartbreaking and unacceptable that racism and racial injustices exist around the world. We will be part of the solution. Let’s work together to progress toward change.
Earlier Wednesday, Quaker, a PepsiCo subsidiary, announced that will retire the logo of Aunt Jemima, an older black woman who has long been a staple on its products.
Quaker Chief Marketing Officer Kristin Kroepfl said:
We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype. As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations.
Riché Richardson, an associate professor at Cornell University, told NBC News that Aunt Jemima is “a retrograde image of black womanhood on store shelves.”
“It’s an image that harkens back to the antebellum plantation … Aunt Jemima is that kind of stereotype, is premised on this idea of Black inferiority and otherness,” stated Richardson.
“It is urgent to expunge our public spaces of a lot of these symbols that for some people are triggering and represent terror and abuse,” he added.
The Aunt Jemima character, which has marked the company’s pancake mix since 1889, has been criticized for years and was the subject of a Change.org petition three years ago called, “Set Her Free.”
We are starting by removing the image and changing the name. We will continue the conversation by gathering diverse perspectives from both our organization and the black community to further evolve the brand and make it one everyone can be proud to have in their pantry.
Quaker hasn’t said yet what brand or image will replace Aunt Jemima, but that announcement is expected this fall.
PepsiCo, which acquired Quaker in 2001, said Tuesday it will pledge $400 million for initiatives to oppose racial injustice, following weeks of unrest after the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Shortly after Quaker’s announcement, Mars said it will change its Uncle Ben’s brand, which features the image of an older black man. The company said it doesn’t know what the changes will be or when they’ll happen.
“As a global brand, we know we have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices,” Mars said.
The UPI contributed to this report.