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Aunt Jemima

The jury most certainly isn’t out on Aunt Jemima, who originally was a character in a popular minstrel song. When Chris L. Rutt and Charles G. Underwood invented an instant pancake flour in the late 1800s, they decided to use the song’s character of "Old Aunt Jemima" for the company logo, symbolizing the traditional "mammy" who lived to serve. By the time the duo’s company was acquired by Quaker Oats in 1926, Aunt Jemima was firmly engrained in American culture, having been portrayed at expositions and state fairs by Nancy Green, a former slave who played the role from 1893 until her death in 1923. The legend at the time was that this lady, and the seven others who played the role, was a real cook who made the finest pancakes around. Her smiling visage still adorns Aunt Jemima pancake mix today, but there’s obviously been an effort to tone it down; instead of a head-rag and maid’s outfit all we see if a close-up of her face.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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