'Aunt Jemima' Heirs Want $2B in Royalties
Anna Short Harrington's great-grandkids say Pepsi, Quaker Oats exploited her
By Jenn Gidman, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2014 8:50 AM CDT
Heirs of Anna Short Harrington, the woman known as Aunt Jemima, have filed a $2 billion lawsuit against Quaker Oats, PepsiCo, and others. The image on current bottles is actually of her daughter.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – "Aunt Jemima" is a household name for any American who has ever eaten a pancake (read: almost everyone). So it's not terribly surprising that the heirs of Anna Short Harrington, whose iconic image helped make the brand's syrup and pancake mixes famous, are going after decades of royalties from the companies that profited from using her beaming likeness on their packaging. In a $2 billion-plus class-action lawsuit filed in Illinois against Quaker Oats, PepsiCo, Pinnacle Food, and Hillshire Brands, Harrington's great-grandkids maintain the companies lied about employing Harrington, stole recipes and menus from her, and exploited her inexperience and youth during initial negotiations, reports the Wrap.

Harrington's heirs reveal the suit was partly motivated by the revelation last year that Quaker officially trademarked her image in 1937, as well as their discovery of a death certificate that showed Quaker Oats as Harrington's employer, reports Fortune. The lawsuit claims Quaker took part in "industrial espionage" by squeezing Harrington's trade secrets out of her before she died and was involved in "racial discrimination towards Anna S. Harrington’s heirs … reflecting an innate form of disrespect towards African American people." The Aunt Jemima we see today on the brand's bottles and boxes isn't Harrington—it's her daughter, Olivia Hunter, recruited in 1989 for the brand update.

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Ezekiel 25:17
Aug 25, 2014 11:12 AM CDT
BTW, this doesn't last long so you make one batch for one meal. Take a cup of sugar and mix in about 1/2 cup of water. Boil it down to a thin syrup. After it totally cools add some vanilla and maple flavor. I do this on the trail and it keeps me from packing syrup.
Lou Bernardo
Aug 18, 2014 12:22 PM CDT
Whatever happened to Aunt Jamima's bandanna she wore for decades? Did Al Sharlatan or Jesse Jerkson threaten a boycotte or demonstration?
Aug 16, 2014 9:05 AM CDT
Greedy relatives exploiting the stupidity of juries (their peers) who give out high $$$ awards against the "big bad companies" -- ya got to love the lawyers in this country!