Aunt Jemima

After I heard about the recall on Aunt Jemima brand pancake mixes, I saw a really interesting background article at Obscure History.

I always thought of Aunt Jemima to be a silly product name, and a hearkening to old-fashioned days when the shadows of slavery and repression were still fluttering along the walls.

I know that some of you who drop by here on occasion don’t necessarily get the underpinnings of the Southern American dialect except where it is displayed on silver screens, so the reason the name seems silly to me might need an introduction.

In the plantation part of the south, Aunt Jemima would sound like “Ain’t Je Mama” — “Not your momma”. During the times of slavery and during the period where integration had not taken a foothold, the vision of a black houseworker named Aunt Jemima would bring up the idea of a slave who did all the housework and child rearing, but whom the children were constantly reminded that she isn’t “mother”.

I wasn’t aware of a huge chunk of the company’s background before they were bought by Quaker Foods, another brand known for an extreme close-up of a character who is meant to bring up feelings associated with the American past. This makes me wonder if they will be making an offer in the years coming for Wendy’s or maybe even the Sunbeam bread company or maybe even Martha Stewart.

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