AUNT JEMIMA PANCAKES
Chris L. Rutt and Charles G. Underwood purchased the Pearl Milling Company in 1889, and came up with the novel idea of creating a ready-mixed pancake flour.* Rutt named it for a catchy tune called 'Aunt Jemima' which he had recently heard in a vaudeville show. Rutt and Underwood went broke in 1890, and sold the formula for Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix to the R.T. Davis Milling Company. Davis looked for a woman to represent the product, and hired an African American woman named Nancy Green from Chicago, Illinois.
At the 1893 Colombian Exposition in Chicago, Davis made an all-out effort to promote the new pancake mix, and built the world's largest flour barrel. 'Aunt Jemima' (Nancy Green) demonstrated how to use the new mix, and the exhibit was so popular, police had to control the crowds at the Aunt Jemima booth. Nancy Green was awarded a medal and proclaimed 'Pancake Queen' by the Fair officials. Soon signed to a lifetime contract by Davis, Green was a hit all across the country, as she toured demonstrating the new Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix, and by 1910 it was available nationally. She played the part of Aunt Jemima until her death on September 24, 1923 (she died in a car accident).
Aunt Jemima Mills were purchased in 1925 by the Quaker Oats Company of Chicago.
*4/30/03 E-mail from Donald (Konala), grandson of Addie Underwood.
Charles Underwood did most of the testing at his brothers farm home in Good Intent Kansas, just west of Atchison. He practiced on his sister in law's (Addie Underwood) table.
Addie Underwood was my grandmother. Her daughter, my mother, Hazel Underwood Carter remembers the instances and if my memory serves me correctly still has the same table.