Wine & Food

    Photo: Getty

    First statues, now food stuffs: how Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben got cancelled

    18 June 2020

    Quaker Oats announced on Wednesday that it will scrap its 130-year-old breakfast brand name Aunt Jemima because the product line contributes to a “racist stereotype”.

    Campaigns were soon mounted on social media to get rid of other racially charged food brands such as Uncle Ben’s and Mrs Butterworth’s.

    Miss S has cast a dutiful eye over the contents of her cupboards and wonders whether the cultural censors may have missed a few offenders:

    Patak’s sauces

    Patak’s sauces draws heavily on its Gujarat heritage in its branding despite having been sold by its founding family to Associated British Foods in 2007 – the same corporation that owns Twinings tea, Silverspoon and Ovaltine. Associated British Foods have now launched a partnership between Patak’s sauces and Jamie Oliver. Miss S wonders about the modern-day optics of lending’s one patronage and privilege as a white man to a brand previously pioneered by an ethnic minority.

    Reggae Reggae Sauce

    Levi Roots’s Reggae Reggae Sauce shot to fame on Dragon’s Den where the charismatic entrepreneur claimed he had inherited the recipe from his grandmother. Keith Valentine Graham (known as Levi Roots) later admitted that he had lied about his family’s ties to the recipe when his former business partner took him to court, claiming the recipe was stolen. With the sauce’s Jamaican heritage in doubt, Miss S is concerned we may be buying into a Caribbean stereotype.


    Many people know about coke’s historic links to cocaine but few who drink it are aware of its chequered racial history. While Pepsi was marketed to black Americans, coke targeted white customers. This led to a black/white divide in the 1960s soft drinks market that both companies have been at pains to rectify ever since. Miss S would hate to inflame historic racial divides with her choice of soft drink so perhaps Coke is best avoided.

    Indeed, with so many problematic products facing the chop, it’s questionable whether there will be anything appropriate left in the Steerpike family larder by the weekend. Water, anyone?