After decades of criticism for how their products have perpetuated racial stereotypes, four iconic brands announced change was coming within hours of one another.
First, Quaker Oats said it would retire Aunt Jemima from packaging on its brand of syrup and pancake mixes, acknowledging its prior work to update the character was "not enough." Then in rapid succession Wednesday, the owners of Uncle Ben's, Mrs. Butterworth's and Cream of Wheat said their products' packaging also would be reviewed.
The rebranding announcements – considered long overdue by experts, historians and some consumers – come at a time when companies face increasing pressure to boost diversity efforts and combat racism in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
On Friday, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream said in a statement to USA TODAY that its Eskimo Pie brand would be renamed.
"I think a lot of these brands really need to look at the contributions, or lack thereof, that have contributed to a lot of the systemic issues," said Mike Jackson, founder of Los Angeles-based 2050 Marketing. "This is a real movement and this one feels really, really different.”
Dan Gasby, a former TV producer who in 2017 started a Change.org petition asking PepsiCo, which owns Quaker Oats, to replace Aunt Jemima with his now-late wife TV personality B. Smith, one of the country's first high-profile black models who went on to become an author, restaurateur and lifestyle maven.