NROP: Racism on the shelves – How the products we grew to love make us racist.

Last week, I wrote about Lady Antebellum changing their name to “Lady A” due to the negative connotations of their original name. We did not have to wait long to see other brands reconsidering their image.

Do you like pancakes? (If you do not, then I am not sure we could be friends. Kidding, I am.)

Lexico defines pancakes as:

“a thin, flat cake of batter, usually fried and turned in a pan. Pancakes are usually eaten with syrup or rolled up with a filling.”

Lexico.com
Pancakes
Pancakes

Basically, they are what their name is – cakes made in a pan. The traditional toppings include butter and (maple) syrup. The salt from the melted butter, combined with the sweetness of the drizzles syrup makes for a perfect flavor combination. However, if you prefer your breakfast to be more nutritious, feel free to add fruits to the dish. I also like peanut butter and jelly on my pancakes from time to time.

What do pancakes have to do with racism? Apparently, a whole lot.

When drafting my posts, I use Pixabay.com for my images because they are free, I do not have to ask for permission and worry about figuring out whom to attribute the credit to. As I tried to search for a few photos to insert into this post, I realized that they are not available. It looks like they have been erased from existence. One search return only a few results for which I would have to pay to obtain the images. Very suspicious.

If you live in the U.S., you might already know what I plan to discuss today. However, if you are from abroad, chances are that you might be totally clueless. I do not want you to get any more grey hair from all that anticipation, so here it goes.

A very popular brand of pancake mixes (Yes, we like to make things easier on ourselves.) and syrups is called Aunt Jemima. The beginnings of the company date back to the late XIX (19th) century. The face of their brand is a black woman smiling ear to ear. Do you now see where this is headed? Due to recent racial discussions around the country, the company decided to change the name of the product and choose a new “mascot.”

Aunt Jemima is modeled after “Mammy” archetype, which was made popular during times of slavery. A “Mammy” was a black woman who worked for a white family and took care of their kids.

While shopping the other day, I saw a woman purchasing an Aunt Jemima brand syrup. In her opinion, the face/name was a tribute to the people who take care of our kid (any nanny) and make us feel happy with delicious food. I could not disagree with her logic. I have never associated that brand with nothing but love, happiness, and comfort.

Interestingly enough, while many are up in arms to revamp the company’s image, a certain Texan family is asking them to reconsider. It is their relative that is depicted on the boxes of pancake mixes and syrup bottles. They, too, like the woman I met at the store, believe that it is an honor to be a face of such a brand. They recall how much fun she had touring the country and serving pancakes.

As I mentioned in the last NROP, people enjoy jumping on the trend bandwagon more often than not. Aside from Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butter-Worth’s syrup as we know it is also going to vanish. The bottle is shaped to resemble a “loving grandmother,” which in this case is a little plump. Somehow, that too is against the company’s mission to not be offensive towards “black and brown” people.

Uncle Ben’s rice will also soon be a thing from the past. Why? Because there is a photo of a black man on the box. Where does that lead us? To shopping aisles filled with non-black faces. I thought we were trying to avoid that. Soon enough, we will see people protesting due to the lack of diversity in product packaging. “There is no representation of black people,” they will say. But, we should not think ahead. Let us focus on the eradication of history and silencing people.

For a photo of all the products and a more detailed article, visit a MarketWatch article.

I do not know if there is anyone out there who has not heard about “Jungle Book.” It is a childhood classic around the world. So is “Alladin.” When I read books or watch movies, I focus on the plot. But maybe it is because I am privileged

Sky, a broadcasting company based in the UK will now add a disclaimer to some of their movies.

“This film has outdated attitudes, language and cultural depictions which may cause offence today.”

“Aliens” via Sky

In the U.S., Netflix and HBO actually took down a few movies to show that they are not in the business of “promoting” racism.

Even though I say that nothing surprises me anymore, things still leave me flabbergasted every now and again. One recent instance was when I read about International Aisles in the supermarkets being racist. Apparently, putting select items from other countries in a specifically dedicated aisle is considered segregation. How do I view such aisles? I stroll down those aisles quite often. Why? Because that is how I discover things that I would otherwise have no way of trying. How can I buy something if I do not know that I want it? By checking things out in the international aisle, I learn about new things. I try new things. I get to know about other cultures. How is this bad? Is me saying “other cultures” a negative thing?

In today’s day and age, you’re not only at fault for doing something with malice. You’re also at fault when someone says you are.

How do you top your pancakes? Butter and syrup or something else?
Do you use any of the products mentioned above? How do they make you feel?
Do you associate pancakes with slavery?
What do you think is next in this war on racism?

Stay golden,

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39 thoughts on “NROP: Racism on the shelves – How the products we grew to love make us racist.

Add yours

  1. Sadly, there are way to many spoiled brats who are only looking for reasons to be offended at everything. They are also looking to find racism in EVERYTHING! Our society is really becoming a dangerous, sick joke that is NOT funny. It’s actually very scary and is taking us BACKWARDS in time, NOT forward.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I think what Jeanne meant is that we’ve all been through things and struggled. Some of us use it to make us stronger and move on while others pick on the smallest of things and blow it out of proportion. It’s just a general observation of the climate.

        I definitely agree with the “overcompensating” part. I understand the reasoning behind it. However, I think such an approach will create new problems.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We had this problem in Europe as well.
    Literally translated it was called “negro kisses” and “Jew cookies”.
    I don’t necessarily see the racism aspect in the names tbh, but maybe people have used it for racist purpose.
    I would be more than happy to see any brands and commercial aspects removed on food. It’s not like I have a collection of empty packages in my house. They go straight into the bin.

    What is next in the war on racism?
    Black coffee?
    White chocolate?

    Is “nigger” an actual insult btw?
    I grew in a time where the music industry was heavily influenced by black rappers throwing the word “nigger ” in every second line.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s funny.

      Packaging is all about generating sales. You have to keep revamping them to stay trendy. Whatever happened to brand loyalty. Yes, packaging can attract me but only when there’s not a brand that I already know and like. Otherwise, I choose that. No matter what’s on the packaging.

      Hahah, yes. I’ve already discussed the issue of black coffee with others. I don’t drink coffee on a regular basis. However, when I do, I prefer it black. I think the work around is to, instead of saying: “Small coffee. Black. 2 sugars,” you should say: “Small coffee. No milk. 2 sugars.”

      White chocolate is not actually chocolate so that’s a whole other story.

      Yes. Yes, it is. It’s just like “bitch.” Girls call each other “bitch,” but if anyone else from outside of their circle would dare to utter that word… I don’t get it but that’s how it is. Some people are allowed to say something but others are not.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Why does nobody ever talk about the celebs who lightning their skin.
        Rihanna, Nikki Minaj and even the holy Beyonce.

        And I know that people now assume I am racist.
        It really isn’t about the color of anyone’s skin, but I always had a hate for people who say one thing but act 180 degrees of that.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Celebrities usually try to convince us that they have done no bleaching.
          If they admit to doing that, again – it’s our fault. Clearly, we make them feel inferior so they try to become us. Yes, I roll my eyes.

          Words have become very important nowadays. As someone who enjoys writing ad reading, that should make me happy. But it doesn’t. People don’t pay attention to your actions as much as they do to your words…

          Like

          1. Wether they do it with make up or surgery (laser, or whichever way it’s done), the pictures don’t lie.
            Honestly it’s not something I disapprove of.
            I sit in the sun to get a tan.
            There, I said. Call the gossip magazines. Make me famous.

            Jimmy Kimmel has apparently come under fire for using this “N” word while doing a snoop dogg parody.
            Ironic.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I was going greyer trying to get the crux of the matter and then I had to stop and Google Aunt Jemima Syrup since we dont have none of that this side of the world and I find waffles overrated maybe because I first saw them on TV and they seemed super cool but when I tried them for myself I thought they would taste.., oh I dont know like cake and less like fried dough (I guess you lather them with syrup to drown out the noise)
    I do know Uncle Ben’s rice as a relation visiting from the US once brought as much as their baggage limit allowed…

    Gosh I am trying to wrap my head around implications so to balance things out are we just going to stop having people as faces of brands or have people depicted in adverts at all and then what next an advertising committee will have to be set up to regularise the colours that will be used in advertising since some will be offended if a particular colour is used or not used.

    Mostly it seems more like publicity stunts and brands trying to show how they now “conform” than it being actual good natured acts and that’s even worse, you haven’t dealt with the problem just put it out of sight, where it will still fester…
    I am just about to have a slice of bread with peanut butter I scooped out of jar labelled Mama’s peanut butter and there’s a homely old woman with glasses on it.

    ~B

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Waffles and pancakes are NOT the same. The texture is totally different. The waffles are firmer on the outside and pancakes are soft all around. But yes, topings are important when it comes to waffles and pancakes. They’re meant to be indulgent.

      Why did he bring you rice? Is it the convenience of the cooking of rice in bags or something else?

      Well, you actually brought up something that I forgot to mention as I wrote this post. These companies are now vowing to form special committees that will help them make better decisions in the future. They specified that black people would have a great impact on the next image idea. It made it seem as if no other race will be consulted. It makes me think we’re taking this all too personally. A product that is not intended to harm anyone should be able to remain.

      Absolutely. Companies (and individuals) are scared of being boycotted so they get ahead of this and try to apologize and promise they will do better. That’s not really making them understand what the problem is.

      See? Stereotypes. In the 21st century, women do much more than cook and take care of the house/family! I will write a letter to the President of Zim himself and tell him to get rid of that.

      Like

      1. Hahaha clearly I do not know my waffles from my pancakes I do hope my generalisation isn’t scandalous 😂

        The rice was because at the time we were having a very acute food shortage and shops were practically empty, you would have money but nothing to buy with it, unlike now though the shops are somewhat decently stocked but it’s the money that’s the challenge.

        When you write your letter be sure to also casually ask if he has a plan, I would ask him myself but it’s considered undermining the office of a constitutionally elected president.
        ~B

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel, grow up.
    You don’t need to get rid of symbols that mean whatever you want them to mean. You do need to change your attitude. I read a post recently by someone white with money who was saying how aware she is of her white privilege, aware that without it someone she cares for would be dead. We need to get rid of that. The prejudice. The looking down at black or poor so that they’re disadvantaged.

    I like the aisles. There are kosher aisles in the supermarket. Imagine having to search all over to find each different product?

    Love, light and glitter

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Very interesting post. Packaging and marketing are such interesting subjects. I remember the fuss when they changed the appearance of the woman on the Columbia pictures logo.

    Pancakes are the bomb. Have you tried them with coconut? You sprinkle it on top of the uncooked batter after you spoon it onto the pan. Delicious. Still with butter and syrup, of course.

    I think we get Aunt Jemima here (Canada). I don’t buy it. It’s not a racism thing. It’s an “I really prefer maple syrup” kind of thing.

    I knew the product depictions stemmed from a racist past but I also know they’ve changed the image some over the years. Like you, I wonder if whitewashing everything is the best way to show that the world isn’t white.

    I don’t mind the disclaimer though; I’ve seen them on movies before.

    As to what comes next, who knows? We are living in very interesting times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I have not tried pancakes with coconut flakes but I will have to try it as it’s something I see myself enjoying.

      Yea, I get that. I’m making a shift towards the real deal, too. High fructose corn syrup is starting to get to me.

      You’ve seen the disclaimer before? Interesting. I have nothing against it, either (doesn’t bother me) but I wonder what difference does it make. It’s like all the other product warnings that just seem silly to any reasonable person. But, if they help someone… hey… I just see them as a way of covering people’s asses more than out of care for the user.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I fully believe that a lot of these “heartfelt” changes are cya motivated and nothing else.

        Raisins in pancakes are good too. I picked up both ideas in Mexico. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Betty Crocker? An example of white racism?
    The Jolly Green Giant? Racist against green people?
    Mr. Clean? Racist against pale Arabic genies?
    Keebler’s Elves? Racist against short, pointy-eared bakers?
    Lucky Charms? Racist against Irish Leprechauns?

    Humans are pathetic.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. You are right how far do you take it. UK has Uncle Ben’s rice but never bought it because I bought the cheaper store brand. Robertson’s make jam in the UK and their logo was a Gollywog this is so many years ago and they changed it. I remember them doing it because of complaints, changing the label did not spoil the quality of the jam as it was one of the best at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I had read the post from the family of the woman who was the spokesperson for Aunt Jemima about all the positives that came from her role. I totally agree with your comments about all white packaging. We are going a bit too far. We need to learn from our past and from things that we have changed, not forget about them or try to hide it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Weird how we act out with pretty much the same venom on images of both dead black people and dead white people. Is it really about getting rid of the racism, or just getting rid of history?

    P.S. Your discussion of pancakes made me hungry, and I just ate.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We eat real maple syrup on pancakes. When my kids were growing up my mom started making them Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes and then adding chocolate chips. It seems now day someone could find away to take offense to that. I honestly don’t pay much attention to product packaging. I don’t know what’s next but I do know that you can’t legislate what is in peoples hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

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