"The trademark smiling face of Aunt Jemima that adorns boxes of pancake mix and syrup has a lot of history, and controversy, behind it.
The Aunt Jemima icon was introduced in 1893. She was bright eyed, smiling, and plump, and was a representation of the "mammy" slave stereotype. The original idea for the character was created by one of the owners of the Pearl Milling Company, Chris Rutt, after watching a vaudeville show featuring a black-faced performer dressed in an apron and hankerchief singing a song called "Aunt Jemima". Slave-born Nancy Green was the original Aunt Jemima, hired by the company to be the living portrayal of the brand's trademark.
Controversy over Aunt Jemima being a negative portrayal of African-American woman led to visual changes in the character; her bandanna kerchief was removed and she was given pearl earrings. Her face was also made much younger. Aunt Jemima is still an offensive image to many people however, as she is considered a female version of Uncle Tom - a black woman who is obedient and loyal to the interests of white masters. The Quaker Oats company on the otherhand, describes Aunt Jemima as standing for 'warmth, nourishment and trust – qualities you’ll find in loving moms from diverse backgrounds who care for and want the very best for their families.' "The Fact Book