Remembering Nancy Green

Since this is Black History Month, let’s talk about Nancy Green, the first Black corporate spokesperson in the United States. A few years ago, her identity was erased by progressive woke insanity, intent on destroying our nation’s rich and evolving heritage and history.

Green was born a slave in 1834 in Montgomery County, Kentucky. (The 1900 census shows her birth as 1854, but slave births were not precisely recorded, and the handwritten “3” might have been misread as a “5”.) When she died in 1923, Green was a national celebrity having become America’s first living trademark.

Green’s story starts in 1888 when the Pearl Milling Co., which produced a variety of milled products, incorporates in St. Joseph, Missouri. A year later, the company originated its ready-mixed, self-rising pancake flour mix and called it Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix. Unlike today when businesses can promote their products on national television, radio, and social media, it was challenging in the late 1800s to gain national exposure. Pearl Milling planned to introduce Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition that was being held in Chicago.

Everything was ready to go. All the company needed was an “Aunt Jemima” spokeswoman to cook the pancakes in their booth during the Exhibition. Post-Civil War, they sought someone who exemplified the “mammy” that many north and south families had as cooks.

Image: Original ad for a Nancy Green/Aunt Jemima appearance (cropped).

Green was 56 years old when she was selected as “Aunt Jemima.”

Almost overnight, “Aunt Jemima” Green became famous, turning the Pearl Milling Company booth into an Exhibition sensation. With hundreds crowding around, she demonstrated the easy-to-use pancake mix, serving attendees that flocked to the booth to both taste the delicious flapjacks and hear her friendly banter while cooking. (This is the same format for today’s cooking shows but was a novel presentation in 1893.)

Green was so popular that the Exposition had to hire additional security personnel to keep crowds moving along. Everyone wanted to taste the pancakes AND hear her playful banter as she prepared the mix for cooking in the booth’s makeshift kitchen.

The Pearl Milling Co. knew they had dual winners: the pancake mix and Nancy Green as Aunt Jemima. When the Exhibition was over, Green signed a generous lifetime contract that included promotional tours throughout the United States. (Was it really generous? We don’t know except that in the 1910 census, Green put “housekeeper” as her occupation.)

Green used her fame and fortune to become a recognized advocate for equal rights for ALL Americans. Remember, women did not have the right to vote until 1920, and the civil rights movement wasn’t until the 1960s.

Nancy Green remained the Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix spokesperson until her death in 1923 at age 89. Her passing was front-page news across much of the nation, with The New York Times being a key exception.

In 1925, Quaker Oats bought the Pearl Milling Co. The Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix continued featuring the indomitable Nancy Green’s likeness on their products. You would think that syrup would have gone with the pancakes immediately after the 1893 Exhibition, but it wasn’t introduced by the Aunt Jemima brand until 1966! Other Aunt Jemima products appeared throughout the decades – all with Nancy Green’s Aunt Jemima on the packaging.

In 2001, PepsiCo purchased Quaker Oats. In 2020, PepsiCo announced it would retire the Aunt Jemima name and image, returning to the pancake mix’s original Pearl Milling Co. name. Many Americans believe Pepsico kowtowed to woke insanity, which means Nancy Green died twice: in 1923 and in 2020.

Progressive woke insanity wrongly demands that past events be held to today’s values. Companies that go along with this absurd narrative are destroying America’s rich heritage and history – warts and all. Thanks to patriots who ignore wokeness, Nancy Green remains a successful and outstanding Black American who helped promote a company’s brand while using her fame to promote equality for all Americans.

Robin M. Itzler is a regular contributor to American Thinker. She can be reached at

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