With the M&Ms spokescandies controversy more or less over, rudderless soldiers of the culture war are apparently seeking new battlefronts on which to focus their attention.
Enter actor Ben Stein (perhaps best known for his role and acting style as a dull, droning educator or a monotone eyedrop spokesman), who took to Truth Social to bemoan the loss of the Aunt Jemima mascot from bottles of syrup and pancake mix.
Actor Ben Stein says he misses the good old days when “a large African-American woman” was on his syrup bottle, but woke corporate culture ruins everything. pic.twitter.com/WkSXUDbRIj
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) February 21, 2023
In 2020, the Quaker Oats company retired the Aunt Jemima mascot from its syrup bottles and other branding, acknowledging the character's "origins are based on a racial stereotype." The company had received criticism for the character in previous years, as some believed it evoked a racial trope of jolly Black maids in kitchens.
While the decision to discontinue the Aunt Jemima character was controversial three years ago, Stein fondly recalled the days when Aunt Jemima graced syrup bottles in his now-viral video, saying the decision to remove her was due to the "inherent racism" of corporate America. "I prefer it was a black person showing their incredible skill at making pancakes," Stein said.
Stein's contribution to the discourse made Aunt Jemima trend once again on Twitter into today as people relitigated the Aunt Jemima debate.
Aunt Jemima was not a real person. There was an actress who played her at fairs making pancakes. Aunt Jemima was created to evoke the comfort of slaves making your food. https://t.co/TyUB3njBeY
— Leslie Streeter (@LeslieStreeter) February 22, 2023
Nancy Green, born a slave, and after being the original Aunt Jemima, worked as a housekeeper until she was unable and then died a poor woman.
That’s polite speak for suggesting Ben Stein should go fucc off. All the way off. https://t.co/dsDJeZwebx
— LadyBirdNiceAF (@purplehullpea) February 22, 2023
Aunt Jemima should be kept on pancakes as a legend. You all celebrate black history month by removing her…. Stop the insanity, learn your history! pic.twitter.com/rSDKnLeLY7
— SparkyBru (@SparkyBru) February 22, 2023
Though several commenters voiced how they felt that the debate was overdone, some recalled how the Aunt Jemima controversy initially came to be and conceded that removing the mascot wasn't exactly a tremendous victory for activists.
The discontinuation of the character and rebrand to "Pearl Milling Company" came around the time of the George Floyd protests, a period when Black Lives Matter protestors marched against police brutality towards Black people. Aunt Jemima was far from activists' minds at the time.
Funny thing is nobody asked to remove Aunt Jemima from breakfast stuff, we asked for the police to stop killing black people https://t.co/6W2Ri06uGs
— Chidden Nuddet (@Maraculousness) February 21, 2023
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