It’s A Sad Day For Me — My Flapjacks Are Gone Because They Might Be Racist?

This is a sad day.  I finished my last box of Aunt Jemima Buckwheat Pancake mix.  Quaker discontinued that line of the brand a while back.  Now all the stock I had in the larder is gone.  I’ll never slather butter and maple syrup over those  flapjacks again.

Aunt Jemima buttermilk mix is still everywhere of course.  Yuck.  There’s even an Aunt Jemima whole wheat pancake mix available.  Double yuck. No substitutes accepted, thank you.

Aunt Jemima has a rich history spanning over 115 years.  Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood of the Pearl Milling Company developed Aunt Jemima, the first ready mix.  The image of Aunt Jemima was so popular that the company was renamed the Aunt Jemima Mills Company in 1914.  Then in 1926 The Quaker Oats Company purchased the Aunt Jemima Mills Company, and has owned the brand since.  The brand is still alive and well, but apparently my favorite Buckwheats are no more.

There are plenty of other buckwheat pancake mixes, and one can always buy buckwheat flower and make them from scratch.  But it’s not the same.  I grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  We lived in house at 908 Carey Avenue that is still there.  I look at it today and the memories deluge my brain.  I just don’t remember that house being so tiny.  That’s where I first became an Aunt Jemima Buckwheat addict.  I’m proud to say there were few other addictions in that neighborhood.

I wonder why Quaker isn’t making this wonderful product anymore?  Could it be that some misguided person or group has made the awful “R” accusation:  racism?  If so, I suppose it is based on the Black kid in The Little Rascals being named “Buckwheat” and Aunt Jemima being portrayed on the box as a Black woman who makes pancakes.   Now, if they were still portraying her in a scarf looking like a house slave, I could sympathize.  But that’s not the case anymore, and hasn’t been for decades.   So, surely I’m wrong.  Quaker must have just made a business decision based on market demand.  Right.

Well, if there were an accusation that somehow Aunt Jemima’s Buckwheat Pancake Mix is racist [In San Francisco the mayor says Happy Meals are racist] I don’t have a hard time believing that Quaker, like every other corporation in America, immediately tucked its tail between its legs and fell into a fit of political correctness, slobbering and apologizing for itself and Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood as well for an unbroken record of 121 years of the most egregious racism.

But here’s how ridiculous it would be to call Quaker racist for using the image of a Black woman and buckwheat flour to market a product.  I was first introduced to Aunt Jemima’s Buckwheat pancakes by none other than Mama Hattie, the grandmother who lived across the street from my family in Cheyenne in the 1950’s.  Mama Hattie is the person who influenced my childhood as much as any other adult on the planet at that time.  She disciplined all children who were in her immediate sight, and since I was in that realm most of the time I learned to mind my manners as much from her as from my own mother.  And my mother whole-heartedly approved.

Of all the memories I have from those days, one thing I didn’t know at the time, or simply didn’t take any notice of, is that Mama Hattie was a Black woman.  It just wasn’t of any importance to me at the time, and is now only because racial consciousness is so much more extant now than it was in that time and place.  Mama Hattie’s family were very close friends with my mother.  My father died when I was 9 and Mama Hattie and her family gave solid support to my mother and me during that time, and when my mother died three months shy of 100 years old, the last member of Mama Hattie’s family still living in Cheyenne sent a note regretting she couldn’t attend my mother’s funeral.  She was the same age as my mother, and too frail to travel.

That’s a lost world now.  It had a lot going for it, including Aunt Jemima’s Buckwheat Pancake Mix.  I don’t approve of Quaker’s decision, whatever the reason.  If Mama Hattie were here I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t approve either.

UPDATE: Racist cupcakes?  Everything is racist.

  • Susan Grove

    I, too, grew up eating Aunt Jima Buckwheat pancakes, and miss this product. I don’t see it down in the south anymore. My mother who originally is for Main, grew up on buckwheat pancakes, and would make them for me; therefore, that’s why I love them. But, now I use another product and It’s pretty good. It’s by Hodgson Mill, and to give it more flavor I put a little bit of sugar and salt in the batter(whatever amount you prefer), and it’s not bad, but I need to do this because I find the product doesn’t have much flavor. I think the Aunt Jima product had sugar in it, so maybe that’s what’s missing, but not sure. If, down the road, I’m not able to find Hodgson Mill anymore I’ll just use another buckwheat pancake mix and do the same thing with the mix. I hope this was helpful.

    • TeeJaw

      Yeah, I’ve tried the Hodgson Mill mix and a couple of others. They’re OK, but Aunt Jemima was the best. Being Scot-Irish I’m probably a redneck and if someone came out with “White Cracker Buckwheat Pancake Mix”, I’d be thrilled. Especially if the pancakes were as good as Aunt Jemima’s.

  • Susan Grove

    Yes, I miss Aunt Jima Buckwheat pancakes, too. Nothing can hold a candle to this product. Oh well.

  • George L

    I didn’t say that! Voice command is putting words I didn’t say.

  • Mike

    Here is a letter from Quaker Consumer Relations to a customer regarding the discontinuance. It also includes a recipe!!!!!!

    dear value customer,
    We’re sorry to disappoint you, but we’re no longer making Aunt Jemima Buckwheat pancake & waffle mix. I understand how upsetting it can be to find out a product that you and your family have enjoyed for so many years has been discontinued.

    There are many reasons why we may discontinue a product, but it’s usually because it hasn’t met sales expectations. Store chains sometimes stop carrying slower-selling items to make room for new flavors or other products. When too many stores discontinue a product, it becomes difficult to continue making and selling it.

    It may interest you to know that you can make buckwheat pancakes by using Aunt Jemima Original pancake mix and buckwheat flour. I’ve listed the recipe below for you:
    Ingredients:

    3/4 cup (175 ml) Aunt Jemima Original pancake mix
    1/3 cup (75 ml) buckwheat flour (purchase dark flour)
    1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking powder

    Directions:

    Stir dry ingredients together and add milk and egg as per package instructions.

    Thanks for your business and many years of loyalty to Aunt Jemima, James. We hope you and your family will continue to enjoy our products for many more to come.

    Cathy
    Quaker Consumer Relations

    • Mike, thank you for this. Now I just have to figure out where to get dark buckwheat flour. All I’ve found is the light, and I know that’s not what Aunt Jemima used.

      • Mike Fitzpatrick

        To be honest, I tried Hodgson’s Mills and Bob’s Red Mill Buckwheat flour and found they resulted in a similar pancake as Aunt Jemima……I too was disappointed at their discontinuance……i also read an article recently as Quaker being next on the political correctness hit parade for the Aunt Jemima brand altogether!……corporations live in fear of being accused of racism, but the problem is that they can probably kiss their pancake business goodbye because once they change the name, they will lose their distinction and just become another pancake mix…..they would have to spend millions in promotion!!!

  • Randy

    I’ve looked for it everywhere and yesterday went to some odd type stores that used to keep products like that. I was informed that it was no longer made. I’m very disappointed, like you say I grew up on it. If it was indeed discontinued because it was racism God help this country.

    • TeeJaw

      The race-baiters are always desperately looking for racism in the tin tiniest little thing they can find. I don’t know for certain that Quaker stopped making this product because it was accused of racism. I speculated on that because I know how the race industry works and that all companies that make or sell consumer products are extremely sensitive to any criticism at all, especially any that are the slightest bit race related.

  • Mike Fitzpatrick

    Gentleman,
    I know that not having Aunt Jemima Buckwheat Pancake Mix is disappointing, but I found a Buckwheat Flour that you can order online……Logan Turnpike Mill brand……I tried it and the pancakes were delicious!!…They also make a Buckwheat Pancake mix…here is a link to their website……..http://www.loganturnpikemill.com/products/mixes-flour.html

    Also, here are instructions from Quaker to re-create Aunt Jemima Buckwheat Pancakes….
    It may interest you to know that you can make buckwheat pancakes by using Aunt Jemima Original pancake mix and buckwheat flour. I’ve listed the recipe below for you:
    Ingredients:
    3/4 cup (175 ml) Aunt Jemima Original pancake mix
    1/3 cup (75 ml) buckwheat flour (purchase dark flour)
    1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking powder
    Directions:
    Stir dry ingredients together and add milk and egg as per package instructions.
    Thanks for your business and many years of loyalty to Aunt Jemima, James. We hope you and your family will continue to enjoy our products for many more to come.

    • TeeJaw

      Thanks for that, I’m limiting myself to pancakes about once every two weeks these days.

  • My favorite breakfast was Aunt Jemima buckwheat pancakes with real maple syrup, eggs sunny side up, and beef bacon. I can’t find any other mix that has that flavor. Why?

    • TeeJaw

      I’m with you. I’ve tried every sort of buckwheat pancake mix and most are good but none as good as Aunt Jemima’s.

  • Louise

    So relieved to find so many other fans of this delicious pancake mix. I’m an Aussie who was introduced to Aunt Jemima by an American family way back in 1975. Now I know the product has been discontinued I will try to adapt my own fabulous regular pancake recipe in an attempt to duplicate dear Aunt Jemima. By the way…racist? Are you kidding?

    • TeeJaw

      I wasn’t kidding, but I was speculating. I don’t know for sure that racial politics had anything to do with it. I am suspicious and with good reason. As an Aussie you might not be fully aware of the fervor of racial politics in the U.S. Of course, you might because I believe you have some of the same thing in Australia, or at least did at one time.

      You might not know that the artist’s rendering of Aunt Jemima on the box used to depict her as black woman with a head scarf. Some said she was being depicted as a house slave and that made it a racial slur. Her image was quickly changed and she was depicted as a modern looking black woman for the last several decades.

      Since the pancakes themselves were always popular I figured that the name “Buckwheat” might have been claimed to be racist. This was based on the name given to the black child in the old television show call the Little Rascals that was popular in the 1950s. All the great TV comedies that featured black actors have now been labeled as racist, falsely I believe. One of the most popular was Amos and Andy, a wonderful comedy that was universally loved at the time by all. Even talking about it know can get you in trouble in many circles.

      It’s very sad that this state of affairs exists in America. Back in the 1950s the black family was still intact, black crime was much lower that it later became, and except in the South race relations were better. Now they are better in the South than in some Northern cities. Sweeping civil rights laws have been enacted, but many black leaders act as if none of this ever happened.

      Please take a look at another post of mine, the Prescience of Booker T. Washington and Charles J. Rhone — Legendary Wyoming Cowboy.

      Use the search window on the right side of the blog to find them.

      • Louise

        Thank you so much. I will definately go to the posts you suggested. I apologize for my incredulity regarding the possibility of racist association with the brand and any offence I may have caused. I don’t want to engage in a prolonged conversation on the politics of race. America has a rich and well-documented history that is easily accessible and doesn’t require my contribution.
        I hope that I will be able to adapt my recipe to an approximation of the Aunt Jemima Buckwheat mix but I’m not confident. It was wonderful. If it is half as good I will let you know.

    • I too have been hunting again for Aunt Jemima pancake mix. I’ve searched before with no luck but my 89 year old husband has been asking me why I can but it. He doesn’t believe that it is not in the stores. I find buckwheat pancake mix online for shipping but not Aunt Jemimas. Like the original post, I too don’t want to pay all that shipping and handling That too is over priced. I grew up eating those pancakes in Pennsylvania a did my husband a native Californian. Pitty they quit making it. Yes, it was probably a racist decision like everything else.

      • TeeJaw

        Sally, you should be able to find Hodgden Mills or Arrowhead Mills buckwheat mix at Whole Foods, Vitamin Cottage, or other organic or health food stores.

  • Daniel

    yes isn’t unfortunate that one of our favorite foods is no longer available. I grew up eating Aunt Jemima Buckwheat pancakes I remember at times my mother making me Buckwheat pancakes when we had nothing else to eat for dinner I could still taste them, hmmmm with a glass of Bosco chocolate milk or sometimes hot cup of Ovaltine. I don’t want to believed your suggestion that the reason for discontinuing the product was because of racism? Corporate Office cannot not be that small minded I think it was mainly the lack of consumer demand. I’m going to try the recipe Mike posted I’ll get back with the results, wish me luck

    • TeeJaw

      Daniel, I hope you are right about the racism angle. Good luck with the recipe!

  • I made all my grand kids Aunt Jamimas buckwheat pancakes, now I want to make them for the great and.great great grand and they are no more sorry world we live in today!!!!

  • Dianne FAGGIONE

    For those who live near a “Original Pancake House” they have great buckwheat pancakes.

  • You’re fortunate to have been able to purchase Aunt Jemima buckwheat pancake mix, up until, 2010. I live in Canada, and the magic ended here, back in the mid 90’s. My Dad grew up eating Aunt Jemima Buckwheat pancakes, and would only buy the buckwheat mix. When they stopped carrying it here, he wrote a snail mail letter to Quaker, expressing disatisfaction. Nothing came of it, of course, only a response apologizing for the inconvenience. Anytime he went to the states, he checked every grocery store he entered, looking to see if it was on their shelves, but never found it. He did manage to concoct his own version, by mixing Aunt Jemima Buttermilk, with buckwheat flour. Dad’s pancakes are the only ones I’ll eat! He recently passed, but he didn’t take his recipe to the grave with him, and I made my Dad’s blueberry buckwheat pancakes, for dinner tonight. Yay Shrove Tuesday!