Pancake Flap: Aunt Jemima Heirs Seek Dough

Jere Downs, Courier-Journal, October 3, 2014

Born a slave in Kentucky in 1834, Nancy Green was the first Aunt Jemima “Mammy.”

Nearly a century has gone by and Aunt Jemima no longer resembles a servant, having swapped her red bandanna for pearls and soft curls in 1989.

Now a lawsuit claims that Green’s heirs as well as the descendants of other black women who appeared as Aunt Jemima deserve $2 billion and a share of future revenue from sales of the popular brand.

The federal suit, filed in Chicago in August by two great-grandsons of Anna S. Harrington, says that she and Green were key in formulating the recipe for the nation’s first self-rising pancake mix, and that Green came up with the idea of adding powdered milk for extra flavor.

“Aunt Jemima has become known as one of the most exploited and abused women in American history,” said D.W. Hunter, one of Harrington’s great-grandsons.

But Quaker Oats, the current owner of the brand, said in response to the lawsuit last month that Aunt Jemima was never real.

“The image symbolizes a sense of caring, warmth, hospitality and comfort, and is neither based on, nor meant to depict any one person,” said the statement from Quaker Oats, a subsidiary of PepsiCo. “While we cannot discuss the details of pending litigation, we do not believe there is any merit to this lawsuit.”

No contracts have been located between Aunt Jemima models and their pancake bosses, according to PepsiCo correspondence with plaintiffs contained in the lawsuit.

But Harrington’s descendants contend they did exist.

Quaker Oats and other companies “made false promises to Nancy Green . . . and Anna Harrington,” their lawsuit says, adding that each time their “name, voice or likeness was used in connection with the products or goods, (the ladies) would receive a percentage of the monies or royalties received.”

In addition, documents in the lawsuit are riddled with advertising saying that the recipes are Aunt Jemima’s “secret” recipe from the Old South. One ad, which shows Green serving a handsomely dressed white family, says that only she has the recipe to mix four flours–corn, wheat, rice and rye. Another calls it her “magic recipe” to “turn out dese tender, ‘licious, jiffy-quick pancakes.”

And Diane Roberts, a professor of Southern culture at Florida State University and author of “The Myth of Aunt Jemima,” said that “Mammy” stereotype “romanticized the cruelty of slavery for a nation reconciling the trauma of the Civil War.”

“It’s one of those representations of black people that white people love because Mammy loved her white children so much,” Roberts said. “It proved to white people that we couldn’t have been that mean to black people because Mammy loves us.”



Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • TruthBeTold

    I often wondered why Aunt Jemima was never targeted as ‘racist’. Now I know..

    Change the name, re-brand, and move on.

    Now what about Uncle Ben’s?

    • MekongDelta69

      “…why Aunt Jemima was never targeted as ‘racist’.”

      Oh yes they were! You should have seen the stink 25 years ago. Same with Uncle Ben’s.

      • TruthBeTold

        I kind of remember the image make over but I don’t recall any major flap.

        As for Uncle Ben’s, if there were any protests, they didn’t seem to have had any affect.

    • Tim_in_Indiana

      Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If they don’t have black mascots on any products, that, too, will be called “racist.”

      • bilderbuster

        They should make a Black sex doll called Blow Up Betty.

    • Ron Cheaters

      I hope they don’t change the brand. I do my best Mammy impressions while making pancakes. “I aincho Ain’ Jamima, you gotcho ooown ain’ Jamima. Lawd honey chile”

    • LHathaway

      lol, good one.

    • Jack Burton

      “Why’s the black rice called WILD rice??”

  • MekongDelta69


  • TheCogitator

    Only the negro brain could come up with such nonsense.

    • propagandaoftruth

      Now a lawsuit claims that Green’s heirs as well as the descendants of other black women who appeared as Aunt Jemima deserve $2 billion and a share of future revenue from sales of the popular brand.

      At first I thought there might be a well thought out case based on something weird and well researched – except that this is appearing on Amren – but then I realized of course that this is indeed…


      • The Worlds Scapegoat

        Just think of all the people who played Ronald McDonald over the years. Each one entitled to $1 billion in McDonalds future earnings.


    • journey

      Actually, it’s white “lawyers” with token black ones thrown in. Can’t be too obivous. Blacks do not have the IQ to put together lawsuits.

    • Jack Burton

      There’s a Jew in there somewhere.

    • Jared Arrevois

      Sir- The $2 billion requested by the lawsuit is based on a hard fact: Two cents royalty per flapjack for each of the estimated 100 billion Aunt Jemima flapjacks cooked nationwide over the last 75 years. Sincerely yours, Mr. Algonquin J. Calhoun, attorney at law.

  • “Gimme gimme gimme! Oooga booga booga! Gimme gimme gimme!”

    I seem to recall hearing this song before, after the banks were coerced by the Justice Department into writing mortgage loans to irresponsible blacks who then defaulted.

    • propagandaoftruth

      “Gimme gimme gimme! Oooga booga booga! Gimme gimme gimme!”

      Worst haiku ever, dude…

      • Alexandra1973

        Isn’t a haiku 17 syllables?

        • OS-Q

          Ooga ooga boog
          gimme money sue racist
          booga booga oog

        • propagandaoftruth


          That was cool, huh huh,

          When we killed that frog, huh huh.

          It won’t croak again.

          Butthead’s haiku.

          • I won a “Dr. Seuss haiku” contest once with this:

            Green eggs and green ham?
            G.I. I am, so I eat
            powdered eggs and Spam.

          • Lagerstrom

            That’s a good one.

  • Ed

    Lol what lawyer is dumb enough to take this case?

    • Charles Martel

      One smart enough to go before an Obama appointed judge.

    • journey

      Hey, there are plenty around for “slavery” reparations which is still alive. They are hoping for a hugh payoff someday.

      • propagandaoftruth

        Trillions in reparations.

    • SFLBIB

      Hold on just a sec. Issues of race aside, this is an obviously frivolous lawsuit to extract an out-of-court settlement. A lawyer fee in such a case is usually 25%, and 25% of even a fraction of $2 billion is a lot of money.

    • Realist

      “What lawyer is dumb enough to take this case?”
      You’re kidding right???

  • AmericanCitizen

    Whomever said “truth is stranger than fiction” sure wasn’t lying. At this point I don’t think there really can be a news story that would seem too unreal or fake. We have illegal immigrants who want to sue the government for healthcare – wouldn’t a sane government arrest them the minute they walked into court and deport them on the spot? Instead we pay for the lawyers. Makes a potential heir to Aunt Jemima back page news.

  • Tim_in_Indiana

    And Diane Roberts, a professor of Southern culture at Florida State University and author of “The Myth of Aunt Jemima,” said that “Mammy” stereotype “romanticized the cruelty of slavery for a nation reconciling the trauma of the Civil War.”

    Oh yes, we can’t “romanticize slavery”…especially the slavery going on in Africa at this very moment.

    Oh, wait…we’re not supposed to talk about THAT….

    Blacks don’t hate slavery, they just hate the White Man.

    • Christorchaos

      Of course the oral history of slavery taken of all living exslaves in the 1930s had not a peep against slavery. But who cares about truth?

  • MindHead99

    I think this is the direction the culture wars are going. Citizens should make buying decisions based on the public image put forth by multi-national corporations. For instance White Christians shouldn’t purchase products where they advertise miscegenation, gay and multi-culture on TV etc.. Advertising has become a factory of left-wing multiculturalism. I may switch to generic products.

  • Tim

    I read somewhere a guy created the first Happy-Face for a local insurance agency ad and got paid thirty-five dollars. The insurance company turned from covering cars to marketing the symbol and twenty years later gave the man a couple a million out of their billion dollar largess…

    • QueFah

      I thought Forrest Gump came up with that.

  • Easyrhino

    Wonder if the decedents of William Penn will try to get a piece of PepsiCo (the owner of Quaker Oats) for exploiting Penn’s image as the Quaker Oats guy, who we all know is one of the most abused men in American history.

    • Alexandra1973

      My mother-in-law is descended from Welsh Quakers who settled in Pennsylvania. Think she has a shot at some cash?

      (I type this with tongue planted firmly in cheek.)

  • That’s funny. Any other time when you call an Aunt Jemima “Aunt Jemima,” they take it as a slur. But who needs slurs when there’s a ghetto lottery to be played?

    • bilderbuster

      Uncle Tom and Uncle Ben both “be workin’ fo the Man”.

    • LHathaway

      I think I may remember aunt jemima used as a slur/joke. Maybe I heard that in a movie though.

  • brianreilly

    Remember a few years ago when Colonel Sanders went sort of…brown? It was subtle, but unmistakeable. In an effort to curry favor with black people (who evidently love and patronize Kentucky Fried Chicken, regardless of the fact that it was founded by a white southerner who bore no obvious special love or affinity for black people, but loved to sell lots of chicken), there was an attempt to darken up Col. Sanders that fell flat. It turns out that black people, acting as rational consumers, do not care about the pc bull#[email protected] as much as the white liberals.

    Quaker Oats should write a check while they still have a company. THe black people might not care, but the white liberals will never quit.

  • OS-Q

    2… billion?!

    Wait, they are saying their ancestors looked like these “stereotypes?”

    Could Mrs. Butterworth be reached for comment?

    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      Why not 2 trillion? I think Zimbabwe has paper currency that will cover that amount.

      I think the heirs’ lawyers are hoping the company will write a big fat check to get rid of the heirs and their claim – with the lawyers pocketing most of the money, of course.

      Watch the brand be either discontinued or new boxes featured with no one on it.

      • propagandaoftruth

        I bet the fat one cooked better.

        • Lagerstrom

          I’d reckon she would too. And that makes her more useful than most lawyers.

      • journey

        Just like the Pigford case. The “lawyers” pocketed millions.

      • What these ghetto-lottery aspirants don’t understand is that Quaker Oats is a wholly owned subsidiary of PepsiCo. PepsiCo is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange as “PEP”. If corporate management ever agreed to hand over a share of future profits to these greedy pigs, the shareholders would instantly file suit against the board of directors.

        • thomasdosborneii

          What, stockholders? Must be another white man’s racist trick to hurt black people.

          • White man’s ju-ju. When we want a share of a corporation’s profits (whites call those “dividends”), we use our own money buy stock in that corporation through a broker. Blacks, on the other hand, simply throw a whiny tantrum.

    • thomasdosborneii

      No, but Betty Crocker wonders if she can have a shot, too. And can Captain Crunch be far behind?

      • Captain Crunch was recalled to active duty in Afghanistan and is currently held up on “stop loss” grounds.

  • Christorchaos

    If they start launching billion-dollar lawsuits for every “profit” from racial segregation, sterotyping, Jim Crow … the country will finally be in full-bore diversity paralysis.

    • On the plus-side, that volume of frivolous lawsuits might completely paralyze our courts, leading them to inflict far less societal damage than they currently do.

  • LHathaway

    “It proved to white people that we couldn’t have been that mean to black people because Mammy loves us”

    Has it ever been possible to escape the ‘blacks as victims’ din? No, what ‘Aunt Jemima’ was meant to do was make whites like blacks, as was the blacks as victims propaganda itself.

  • drattastic

    Buy all of Green’s “descendants” a Cadillac with big shiny retarded looking rims and some big gaudy gold jewelry , make them sign off legally and give the lawyer a few million. You’ll probably get rid of them for about 6 or 7 million.

    • Chasmania

      Fek That ! They do that then every cockroach n1gger who had a relative – or pretends to have – who did so much as a days work will be clamoring for repuhrashuns from every company in sight. These spooks have to be fought, tooth and nail, for every inch they are asking for.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Along with another Harrington relative, Hunter wants billions and a share of future profits from the brand.

    They want reparations for pancakes.

    What are the chances the lawyers will end up with most of the money?

    Can heirs of Uncle Ben and the Cream of Wheat guy be far behind?

    Posted with the Daily Mail article:

    • journey

      Blacks back then sure look more respectable and implying they actually work at their true IQ level.

    • “I’s In Town Honey.”

      Then I’s be movin.

    • Lagerstrom

      I thought that was Scatman Crothers!
      I tell ya, those Aunt Jemima rag-dolls would only be bought out for display in the most clandestine of situations in this current climate.

  • MBlanc46

    This isn’t a lawsuit, it’s a shakedown. Watch Quaker Oats cave.

  • bilderbuster

    Knock! Knock!
    Who’s there?
    Angie Who?
    Angie Mima an I gots yo pancakes!

  • WR_the_realist

    I’m waiting for Betty Crocker to sue. Followed by Mr. Clean.

  • FozzieT

    Speaking of pancakes, anyone remember Little Black Sambo?

    • thomasdosborneii

      Yes, he grew up to be Mukesh Ambani (the richest man in India).

      • Little Black Sambo can only have been set in India, due to the presence of tigers in the story. There are no tigers in Africa; the tiger is found only in Asia.

        • The Worlds Scapegoat

          When I was a kid, I always thought Sambo was from India. I think I got the idea that he was from India by reading the story about Sambo on the menu card which stated he was from India. Reading be raciss.

  • IstvanIN

    The women who worked as the character Aunt Jemima were paid for the job they did when they did it. Nancy Green didn’t invent pancake mix, she “spokes modeled” at county fairs and other venues that attracted housewives. Pancake mix was the first, or at least one of the first fast foods, like condensed soup. Should everyone who portrayed Ronald McDonald throughout the world be entitled to royalties in perpetuity? Quaker Oats should not only not have to pay these ding-a-lings a penny they should be compensated for the frivolous lawsuit.

  • Lygeia

    The Greens actually may have stolen Anna Harrington’s recipe from her. The movie “Proof of Life” with Lana Turner (a remake of the Claudette Colbert movie from the 1930s) is loosely based on this.

    However, could Anna Harrington, or her descendants, have turned her recipe for pancakes into a global multinational brand worth billions?

    • thomasdosborneii

      Maybe they could, but of course, they didn’t.

      • They couldn’t have. That expansion required lots of advertising and organization that the Harringtons could never have managed. Plenty of good product ideas today fail commercially because the presentation to the public just isn’t done properly. Remember the AMC “Gremlin”? The concept: a US-made economy car that could compete with Japanese imports. The problem: the name “Gremlin” had been synonymous in the American psyche with mechanical failures since World War Two.

  • “‘It’s one of those representations of black people that white people love because Mammy loved her white children so much,’ Roberts said. ‘It proved to white people that we couldn’t have been that mean to black people because Mammy loves us.'”

    Like most American academics, Professor Roberts no doubt by now knows fashionable and lucrative PC so well that she could play it by memory for hours on a Stradivarius.

  • Valmont

    I am an 80th-generation descendant of Julius Caesar, and I want reparations for that salad he thought up.

  • Samuel Hathaway

    Thanks for many childhood memories of pancake breakfasts, Aunt Jemima. And thank you, mom, for all the time you spent in the kitchen preparing my favorite childhood breakfast.

    • I was always fonder of potato pancakes, made from egg, pepper and instant mashed potato powder, with grated cheese then melted on them. My maternal grandmother made them that way. I wonder if a “Grandma Katie’s Potato Pancake Mix” brand would sell.

      The box would have a picture of older midwestern Irish gal with a fair bit of grey in her wavy auburn hair.

  • journey

    Smells like another Pigford case. You know, the thousands of black farmers that never planted a seed in their life. The Pigford case cost taxpayers billions because of corrupted “leadership”. It all started with slimy Wilie and ended with little barry (who signed billions away).

  • dd121

    I wonder if they have the same lawyers and the ML King heirs?

    • journey

      The black thug families of Trayron Martin/Michael Brown had Crump who also pocket some Pigford money. Crump sure gets around.

  • Oil Can Harry

    Rev. Al can’t sue anyone because his impossibly sleazy lawyer Sanford Rubinstein is facing rape charges.

    • Realist

      I heard Rev. Al hired Algonquin J. Calhoun.

  • SolStans

    This will spell the end of Aunt Jemammy. I guess it’s time to switch to Prisquick.

  • thomasdosborneii

    Yes, and I suppose that the descendants every other human being who ever appeared in a magazine ad should sue for billions of dollars…forgetting that those people had already made their own deal and had gotten paid.

  • JackKrak

    You know, one of my great-uncles strongly resembled Mr. Clean.

    Where’s my check?

  • Lagerstrom

    “Oh..the hu-man-i-ty!”

  • Kit Ingoldby

    ”their lawsuit says, adding that each time their “name, voice or likeness was used in connection with the products or goods, (the ladies) would receive a percentage of the monies or royalties received.” ”

    No company on the planet has every agreed to such a moronic contract. Giving a percentage of royalties to an unknown actor for using their image on the product? No way. This is an obviously dishonest claim that is blatantly attempting to force a settlement by blackmail.

  • WR_the_realist

    Looking at those old ads I do see that they depicted black women unfairly and deceptively. The models were the right weight, but they were smiling. Accuracy should have shown them scowling at the white folk, and listening to Farrakhan on the radio in the evenings.

  • Jack Burton

    They “deserve 2 billion??” Aunt Jemima, who is not a real person, is the most “exploited and abused” fictional person in history! LOL.

    They are seriously fishing, they know they can’t win the case, they’re just hoping for a settlement. Total con game.

  • QueFah

    Mrs. Buttersworth is hot.