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Others, however, only seek to obfuscate the truth and cover up something that might convince you to take your money elsewhere. The self-rising pancake ﬂour was created by a pair of speculators, Chris Russ and Charles Underwood, in St. The duo had purchased a bankrupt mill and planned to make it successful by developing a new product that would spur demand for their ﬂour. Don’t get me wrong – the right kind of marketing can be invaluable to both a business and the buying public. As I was researching for the latest series for the blog, I happened to uncover this little beauty, retyped from The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink: Aunt Jemima pancake ﬂour, the ﬁrst nationally distributed ready-mix food and one of the earliest products to be marketed through personal appearances and advertisements featuring its namesake, was created by combining advances in manufacturing and distribution with popular nostalgia for the antebellum south.The recipe for the pancakes was a secret known only to the slave woman.Sometime after the war, the pamphlet said, Aunt Jemima was remembered by a Confederate general who had once found himself stranded at her cabin.The song, which was written by the African-American singer, dancer and acrobat Billy Kersands in 1875, was a staple of the minstrel circuit and was based on a song sung by ﬁeld slaves. He transformed the local product into a national one by distributing it through a network of suppliers and by creating a persona for Aunt Jemima.Rutt and Underwood sold their milling company to a larger corporation owned by R. Davis hired Nancy Green, a former Kentucky slave and cook in a Chicago kitchen, to portray Aunt Jemima in that city’s 1893 Columbian Exposition.Davis also commissioned a pamphlet detailing the “life” of Aunt Jemima.She was depicted as the actual house slave of one Colonel Higbee of Louisiana, whose plantation was known across the South for its ﬁne dining –especially its pancake breakfasts.
They experimented with a variety of recipes in the summer of 1889 before settling on a mixture of wheat ﬂour, corn ﬂour, lime phosphate and salt.
The product was originally named “Self-Rising Pancake Flour” and sold in bags.
In the fall of 1889, Rutt was inspired to rename the mix after attending a minstrel show, during which a popular song titled “Old Aunt Jemima” was performed by men in blackface, one of whom was depicting a slave mammy of the plantation South.
The general recalled her pancakes and put Aunt Jemima in contact with a “large northern milling company,” which paid her (in gold) to come north and supervise the construction of a factory to mass-produce her mix.
She served pancakes from a booth designed to look like a huge ﬂour barrel and told stories of life as a cook on an Old South plantation.Her highly publicized appearance spurred thousands of orders for the product from distributors.