Pearl Milling Company
Product typePancake mix, syrup, breakfast foods
OwnerQuaker Oats (PepsiCo since 2001)
CountrySt. Joseph, Missouri, United States
Introduced1888; 135 years ago (1888)
November 1, 1889; 133 years ago (1889-11-01) (renamed Aunt Jemima) —
June 2021; 2 years ago (2021-06) (revert to Pearl Milling Company)
MarketsUnited States, Canada
Previous owners
  • Pearl Milling Company
  • (1888–1890)
  • R. T. Davis Milling Company
  • (1890–1914)
  • Aunt Jemima Mills Co.
  • (1914–1926)
Tagline“Same great taste as Aunt Jemima”

Pearl Milling Company is an American brand for pancake mix, table syrup, and other breakfast food products. The original version of the pancake mix was developed in 1888–1889, and was advertised as the first "ready-mix" cooking product.[1][2]

In June 2021, the Aunt Jemima brand name was discontinued by its current owner, PepsiCo, with all products rebranded to Pearl Milling Company, the name of the company that produced the original pancake mix product.[3][4]


In 1888, St. Joseph Gazette editor Chris L. Rutt and his friend Charles G. Underwood bought a small flour mill at 214 North 2nd St. in St. Joseph, Missouri.[5] Rutt and Underwood's "Pearl Milling Company" produced a range of milled products (such as wheat flour and cornmeal) using a pearl milling process.[6] Facing a glutted flour market, after a year of experimentation they began selling their excess flour in paper bags with the generic label "Self-Rising Pancake Flour" (later dubbed "the first ready-mix").[1][2][7]

Rutt's recipe from November 1, 1889, on display at Patee House museum in St. Joseph, Missouri

The original 1889 Formula was:

Branding and trademark

Aunt Jemima's pancake flour ad in 1894

To distinguish their pancake mix, in late 1889 Rutt appropriated the Aunt Jemima name and image from lithographed posters seen at a vaudeville house in St. Joseph, Missouri.[1][7] However, Rutt and Underwood could not raise enough capital and quickly ran out of money.[1] In 1890, they sold their Aunt Jemima Manufacturing Company to the Randolph Truett Davis Milling Company (also in St. Joseph, Missouri), then the largest flouring mill on the Missouri River, having an established reputation with wholesale and retail grocers throughout the Missouri River Valley.[1][2][8]

R. T. Davis improved the flavor and texture of the product by adding rice flour and corn sugar, and simplified the ready-mix by adding powdered milk. Only water was then needed to prepare the batter.[1] The brand became successful enough that the Davis Milling Company was renamed Aunt Jemima Mills in February 1914.[2][8]

In 1915, the well-known Aunt Jemima brand was the basis for a trademark law ruling that set a new precedent. Previously, United States trademark law had protected against infringement by other sellers of the same product, but under the "Aunt Jemima Doctrine", the seller of pancake mix was also protected against infringement by an unrelated seller of a different but related product—pancake syrup.[9] Aunt Jemima became one of the longest continually running logos and trademarks in the history of American advertising.[10]

Aunt Jemima Flour with the old logo

The Quaker Oats Company purchased the Aunt Jemima Mills Company in 1926, and formally registered the Aunt Jemima trademark in April 1937.[2]

Quaker Oats introduced Aunt Jemima syrup in 1966. This was followed by Aunt Jemima Butter Lite syrup in 1985 and Butter Rich syrup in 1991.[2] Quaker Oats was purchased by PepsiCo in 2001.

Aunt Jemima branded frozen foods were licensed out to Aurora Foods in 1996, which was absorbed into Pinnacle Foods in 2004.[2] This entire frozen food product lineup was permanently discontinued by Pinnacle Foods in 2017 following a product recall.[11]

Rebranding of 2020–2021

Main article: Aunt Jemima

A Pearl Milling Company Syrup with a new logo and name

On June 17, 2020, Quaker Oats announced that the Aunt Jemima brand would be discontinued and replaced with a new name and image "to make progress toward racial equality".[12][13] The image was removed from packaging in fall 2020, while the name change was said to be planned for a later date.[14][15]

On February 9, 2021, PepsiCo announced that the replacement brand name would be Pearl Milling Company. PepsiCo had purchased that brand name for that purpose on February 1, 2021.[3] The new branding was launched that June, one year after the company announced they would drop Aunt Jemima branding. PepsiCo referenced the Aunt Jemima brand by logotype on the front of the packaging for at least six months after the rebrand. Following that period, PepsiCo said it won't be able to completely permanently abandon the Aunt Jemima brand due to trademark law; if it does, a third party could obtain and use the brand.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kern-Foxworth, Marilyn (1994). Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben and Rastus: Blacks in advertising, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Archived from the original on April 24, 2014. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Aunt Jemima—Our History". Quaker Oats. Archived from the original on August 23, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Alcorn, Chauncey (February 9, 2021). "Aunt Jemima finally has a new name". CNN Business. Archived from the original on February 10, 2021. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  4. ^ Kubota, Samantha (February 9, 2021). "Brand formerly known as Aunt Jemima reveals new name". NBC News. Archived from the original on May 15, 2022. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  5. ^ "What is the history of the brand?". The Quaker Oats Company. 2021. Archived from the original on April 8, 2022. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  6. ^ "What Does Aunt Jemima's New Name, Pearl Milling Company, Mean?". Outsider. February 10, 2021. Archived from the original on April 8, 2022. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Marquette, Arthur F. (1967). Brands, Trademarks, and Good Will: The Story of the Quaker Oats Company. McGraw-Hill. ASIN B0006BOVBM.
  8. ^ a b Williams, Walter, ed. (1915). A History of Northwest Missouri. Vol. 2. The Lewis Publishing Company. Archived from the original on February 18, 2021.
  9. ^ Soniak, Matt (June 15, 2012). "How Aunt Jemima Changed U.S. Trademark Law". Mental Floss. Archived from the original on February 10, 2021.
  10. ^ Richardson, Riché (June 24, 2015). "Can We Please, Finally, Get Rid of 'Aunt Jemima'?". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 12, 2021.
  11. ^ Beach, Coral (May 10, 2017). "Pinnacle discontinues recalled Aunt Jemima breakfast products". Food Safety News. Archived from the original on April 7, 2022. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  12. ^ Kesslen, Ben (June 17, 2020). "Aunt Jemima brand to change name, remove image that Quaker says is 'based on a racial stereotype'". NBC News. Archived from the original on February 16, 2021.
  13. ^ Valinsky, Jordan (June 17, 2020). "The Aunt Jemima brand, acknowledging its racist past, will be retired". CNN. Archived from the original on February 11, 2021.
  14. ^ Kubota, Samantha (June 17, 2020). "Aunt Jemima to remove image from packaging and rename brand". NBC Universal. Archived from the original on February 17, 2021.
  15. ^ Voytko, Lisette (June 17, 2020). "Aunt Jemima—Long Denounced As A Racist Caricature—Removed By Quaker Oats". Forbes. Archived from the original on January 14, 2021.
  16. ^ Kowitt, Beth (February 11, 2021). "The inside story behind Aunt Jemima's new name". Fortune. Archived from the original on April 9, 2022. Retrieved April 9, 2022.