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Aunt Jemima Explained: The Old South, the Absent Mistress, and the Slave in a Box

Aunt Jemima Explained: The Old South, the Absent Mistress, and the Slave in a Box Aunt Jemima Explained: The Old South, the Absent Mistress, and the Slave in a Box Maurice M. Manring Before . . . our joy at the demise of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Tom approaches the indecent, we had better ask whence they sprang, how they lived? Into what limbo have they vanished? --James Baldwin1 Peering out from every supermarket's shelves, between the Pop-Tarts and maple syrup, is a smiling riddle. Aunt Jemima brand pancake mix has been a part of American life for more than a century now, an overwhelmingly popular choice of consumers. The woman on the box has undergone numerous makeovers, but she remains the same in important ways, a symbol of some unspoken relationship among black servant women, the kitchen, and good food. This symbol remains too strong a merchandising tool for its owners, the Quaker Oats Company, to give up. Aunt Jemima's story should interest us for a number of reasons. She might have been the first walking, talking trademark, and the product she pitches was among the first of a wave of supposedly labor-saving products at the turn of the century. But the reasons that a nineteenth-century mammy still decorates the front of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Southern Cultures University of North Carolina Press

Aunt Jemima Explained: The Old South, the Absent Mistress, and the Slave in a Box

Southern Cultures , Volume 2 (1) – Jan 4, 1995

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Center for the Study of the American South.
ISSN
1534-1488
Publisher site
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Abstract

Aunt Jemima Explained: The Old South, the Absent Mistress, and the Slave in a Box Maurice M. Manring Before . . . our joy at the demise of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Tom approaches the indecent, we had better ask whence they sprang, how they lived? Into what limbo have they vanished? --James Baldwin1 Peering out from every supermarket's shelves, between the Pop-Tarts and maple syrup, is a smiling riddle. Aunt Jemima brand pancake mix has been a part of American life for more than a century now, an overwhelmingly popular choice of consumers. The woman on the box has undergone numerous makeovers, but she remains the same in important ways, a symbol of some unspoken relationship among black servant women, the kitchen, and good food. This symbol remains too strong a merchandising tool for its owners, the Quaker Oats Company, to give up. Aunt Jemima's story should interest us for a number of reasons. She might have been the first walking, talking trademark, and the product she pitches was among the first of a wave of supposedly labor-saving products at the turn of the century. But the reasons that a nineteenth-century mammy still decorates the front of

Journal

Southern CulturesUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jan 4, 1995

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