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Heirs of women who "played" Aunt Jemima seek compensation

Fans of pancakes who live throughout the nation are likely familiar with the brand Aunt Jemima. The brand, which has been around for several generations, is the subject of a recent lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the heirs of the woman who was the first Aunt Jemima. Those individuals allege that they are entitled to damages and a share of the business’s future revenue. Decedents of other women who played the role of Aunt Jemima are also plaintiffs in this lawsuit. A total of $2 billion is sought.

The lawsuit alleges the first Aunt Jemima, real name Nancy Green, actually played a role in formulating the recipe, among other things, suggesting that powered milk be added. The current owner of the brand, Quaker Oats, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, claims that Aunt Jemima was never a real person and that there is not any merit to the lawsuit. Thus far PepsiCo claims to have not uncovered any contracts that encompass such an agreement.

According to the heirs, contracts do in fact insist which reflect that Green and the woman who took over playing Aunt Jemima for her, were involved in an agreement with the owner of the pancake mix. Those contracts allegedly promise that the woman would receive a percentage of royalties or monies received, whenever their name, likeness or voice was used in conjunction with the business.

Because there is a good amount of money on the line, it is almost certain that the heirs are working with a lawyer in this lawsuit. How it will be resolved remains to be seen.

Source: Courier-Journal, “Pancake flap: Aunt Jemima heirs seek dough,” Jere Downs, Oct. 7, 2014

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