Jemima - Fictional black female with a broad smile, bandanna and
kerchief round her neck displayed on packages of Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix and
Syrup products first marketed by the Davis Milling Company in the 1890s. Nancy
Green, a 59-year-old former slave and court clerk, portrayed the original Aunt
Jemima at the Chicago World's Exposition of 1893. On radio, Harriette Widmer
portrayed this fictional advertising spokeswoman.
During the 1950s and '60s the
image of the Aunt Jemima trademark was gradually modernized and in 1988, her
100-year-old image was given an overhaul. She still kept the traditional
attributes of warmth, quality, good taste, heritage and reliability but
discarded the bandanna and kerchief for a simple attractive look including
gray-streaked hair and pearl earrings. Her character now looked more like the
white counter part of Betty Crocker.
The Aunt Jemima character was inspired by
the 19th century song "Aunt Jemima" performed by a vaudeville team of Baker
& Farrell when they visited St. Joseph Missouri.
Chris Rutt, a newspaperman and
the inventor of a first self-rising pancake mix (along with Charles Underwood)
saw their performance and hired an artist to create the image of Aunt Jemima
based on the southern "Mammy" costume of apron and red bandanna worn by Baker in
In advertising history, there were other black advertising characters.
A black male character dubbed Uncle Mose (from the song "Old Man Mose") was
created to help Quaker Oats sell their premiums for Jemima and Uncle Mose salt
and pepper shakers.
A black woman called Luzianne Mammy (with bandana and beefy
physique similar to Aunt Jemima) was created by Wm. B. Reilly and Company to
sell its Luzianne Coffee.
The Cream of Wheat Company used the image of a smiling
black man called Rastus (based on a real black waiter).
And a pair of black
twins known as the Gold Dust Twins (drawn by famed illustrator W. W. Kemble)
appeared on boxes of Gold Dust Twin scouring powder in the early 20th century.
As of 2004, the Duncan Hines product line is
owned by Pinnacle Foods Corporation (formerly Aurora Foods).
TRIVIA NOTE: On Oct. 31, 1991, New
York City radio station WXRK-FM was fined $600,000 by the F.C.C. when Howard Stern,
the host of their controversial morning talk show said he masturbated
to Aunt Jemima. His exact statement "The closest I came to making love to a
black woman was I, uh, masturbated to a picture of Aunt Jemima on a pancake box.
I did it right on her kerchief" Allegedly, Stern's antics have caused his employers to pay more FCC fines
than any other program in history.
The "New" Aunt Jemima
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