Actor Ben Stein: 'I Miss When a Large African American Woman Was On Aunt Jemima Syrup'

Of course, social media had a lot to say about the actor and his comments blaming woke culture for the removal.

The history of Aunt Jemima is one tied to racist mammy tropes and in June 2020, Quaker Oats announced that it would be retiring the Aunt Jemima brand and logo, acknowledging that the character was based on a racist stereotype. 

On Tuesday, Aunt Jemima became a hot topic on social media after Ben Stein, actor and former host of Win Ben Stein's Money, posted a video saying he missed seeing the caricature on the syrup bottle.

“Sometimes you would just make breakfast for dinner. Aunt Jemima, yummy, pancake syrup.” He continued, “Now this used to show a large African American woman chef [but] because of the inherent racism of America’s corporate culture, they decided to make the white person or maybe no person at all, but I preferred it when it was a Black person showing their incredible skill at making pancakes. So God bless you all and have a good evening.”

The original Aunt Jemima character was based on a minstrel show song called "Old Aunt Jemima" which was performed by white actors in blackface. The character was designed to be a caricature of a slave or a servant, and the actress who portrayed her was often a white woman wearing blackface. The character was popularized in the late 1800s and early 1900s through vaudeville performances, where it became a staple of racist entertainment. 

The Aunt Jemima brand's website states that Nancy Green was the woman who first embodied the Aunt Jemima character for the brand. The website describes Green as a "storyteller, cook, and missionary worker" who was hired to promote the brand's pancake mix and syrup. Green, who died in 1923, was buried in a pauper's grave.

It's unknown if Stein knows the history of Aunt Jemima, but social media didn't cut him any slack:

Needless to say, Stein was the internet's main character for the day, and not in a good way. 

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