Pepsico, the corporation that owns the Aunt Jemima brand, is erasing the name and the logo portrait of a black woman “to make progress toward racial equality” and in doing so is also erasing the legacy of Nancy Green, a freed slave who had a long career with the Quaker Oats company as a storyteller, actress, and singer.
Miss Green was born a slave in Montgomery County, Kentucky. Chris Rutt, a newspaperman, and Charles Underwood bought the Pearl Milling Company and had the original idea of developing and packaging a ready-mixed, self-rising pancake flour. To survive in a highly competitive business, the men needed an image for their product.
But Nancy Green, at 56, was hired to help the company sell their product at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Green, as Aunt Jimema, cooked and served thousands of pancakes while telling stories and even singing songs.
“Her warm and appealing personality made her the ideal ‘Aunt Jemima,’ a living trademark. Her exhibition booth drew so many people that special policemen were assigned to keep the crowds moving. The Davis Milling Company received over 50,000 orders, and Fair officials awarded Nancy Green a medal and certificate for her showmanship.”
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