I picked these up at the grocery store where I’m working the other day. It makes me wonder if they’re selling race-specific grits anywhere else, or if it’s just a Georgia thing. I realize that it’s not a huge deal, and that things get marketed to specific groups of people all the time, but this is just blatant pandering–in the name of grits! So, before I posted this picture I looked up the trademark history’s of both Mr. Quaker and Aunt Jemima. The image of the Quaker was chosen because, at the time (still?), the Quakers represented honesty, integrity, and hard work; qualities the founder of the company thought were the foundation of his business. Aunt Jemima was chosen as a trademark, by a different company, Pearl Milling, that was some years later bought-out by Quaker, because the owners of the company happened to hear a catchy tune called ‘Aunt Jemima’ performed by a duo in blackface at a minstrel show. In any case, Aunt Jemima became an incredibly popular figure in the 20’s and 30’s, and remained popular for many years to come, but also she became associated as the female version of an Uncle Tom.
After I found these together in the store I showed them to a number of my co-workers, and there was a 100% split between the white people who often didn’t understand what I was showing them, and the black people who were generally incredulous, and thought it was very interesting–and funny.