Little Known Black History Fact: The History of Aunt Jemima

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  • In 1890, a former slave named Nancy Green was hired to be the spokesperson for Aunt Jemima brand food products. Nancy Green was born into slavery in 1834 in Montgomery County, Kentucky. In 1889 the creators of Aunt Jemima, Charles Rutt and Charles Underwood, sold the company to R.T Davis, who soon found Nancy Green in Chicago. The previous owners had already agreed upon her ‘look’ of a bandana and apron. Davis combined the Aunt Jemima look with a catchy tune from the Vaudeville circuit to make the Aunt Jemima brand.

    Green’s identity was first uncovered at the Worlds’ Columbian Exposition in 1893. There were so many people interested in the Aunt Jemima exhibit, police were called for crowd control. Green served pancakes to thousands of people. People loved her warm personality and friendly demeanor, not to mention her cooking. Green was given an award for showmanship at the exposition. As a result of her dedication, Aunt Jemima received 50,000 orders for pancake mix. Not only did flour sales soar, but Green received a lifetime contract to serve as spokesperson.  She was a living legend of the brand until she died in a car accident in September 1923.

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