Electric Aunt Jemima

Notes and Comments

Previous entry This Album Refs Global N&C Refs Songs Index Next entry

  To Album Refs
To Global Refs
Electric Aunt Jemima
Goddess of Love
  To Album Refs
To Global Refs
Khaki Maple Buckwheats
Frizzle on the stove
From: Vladimir Sovetov <>
  That's what printed in my German songbook (Plastic People. Corrected Copy).
  Aunt Jemima: das amerikanische Gegenstuck zu Dr. Oetker. Das Wahrzeichen der Marke Aunt Jamima ist eine pausbackige Negerkochin.
From: richts@frege (Joern Richts)
  The English translation is:
  "Aunt Jemima: the american counterpart of Dr. Oetker. The emblem of the brand Aunt Jemima is a chubby-cheeked negro cook."
  Dr. Oetker is a german food brand, famous for its baking ingredients. I think this isn't very helpful for non-Germans but now at least I know what Aunt Jemima.
From: Charles Ulrich <>
  Aunt Jemima (a division of the Quaker Oats Company) makes pancake mix and syrup. They may make other products, but pancakes and syrup are what they're known for. I believe the name was already part of American folklore before Quaker Oats used it commercially, but I'd have to check on this.
  The phrase "Khaki maple buckwheats" certainly suggests pancakes. Maple syrup is the traditional accompaniment for pancakes, though most commercial syrups contain cheaper syrups (e.g. corn syrup). Buckwheat is a grain from which pancakes are sometimes made.
  Khaki is a dull yellowish brown (etymologically, 'dust-colored') or cloth of this color used to make pants (i.e. trousers). I guess pancakes are more-or-less this color.
From: Vladimir Sovetov <>
  Her testy stuff could be used not only by naughty freaks, but also by decent american secret agents in time of great danger. Look
Billy the Mountain. Just Another Band From L.A.
  ...And he pulled down his blue denim policeman-type pants, and he spread even amounts of Aunt Jemima maple syrup over the inside of his legs!...
From: (Bill Lantz)
  Electric Aunt Jemima was a name Frank used for one of his guitar amps. He always was good at naming stuff.
  And Our Master's voice at last to clear it out forever :-)))
From Frank Zappa - A Visual Documentary by Miles p.42
  "I get kind of laugh out of the fact that other people are going to try to interpret that stuff and come up with some grotesque, interpretations of it. It gives me a certain amount of satisfaction. You can imagine how insane that must get on a song 'Electric Aunt Jemima' which was written about an amplifier. Yes, it's Standall amplifier, about this big, that I used on a couple of sessions" (Zappa: 1969)
  But more about real Aunt Jemima
  Firstly, the quote from Dorothy C. Salem review on the book. Slave in a Box: The Strange Career of Aunt Jemima. By M. M. Manring. (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1998. Pp. ix, 183.)
  "Slave in a Box begins with a provocative title that sets the tone for an investigation of the popular image of Aunt Jemima. The title serves as a metaphor to describe how white male advertisers have capitalized on American racism and sexism. Readable and well supported, the book should be read by those interested in race relations, American literature, black studies, women's studies, and business history.
  As with the earlier analysis of the strange career of Jim Crow, M. M. Manring's study of Aunt Jemima shows how the popular image emerged from the "mammy" of Southern plantation life and took on a variety of qualities ascribed by novelists ranging from Mark Twain to James Baldwin and by historians ranging from Carter G. Woodson to Darlene Clark Hine. In so doing, these writers described how they perceived historical memory and their current milieu. Aunt Jemima became the mirror of the racial, class, and gender beliefs of both writers and consumers. Aunt Jemima, the fat, hardy, asexual servant served as the opposite of the "delicate, pure, ultrafeminine southern woman of the Old South" (23).
  Within six chapters, the author explains the evolution of the Aunt Jemima image in the post-Reconstruction South and through the 1990s on a national scope. Since the "mammy" held literary and historical attention for such a long time, the image of Aunt Jemima became a historical stereotype. The stereotype gained popular recognition from a black-faced character wearing a dress, apron, and bandana in Baker and Farrell's minstrel show in 1889. As the American food industry moved into premixed, mass produced, packaged commodities, Aunt Jemima became the legal trademark for the first ready-mix pancake flour, which was originally sold in paper bags. When packaging innovations moved to cardboard boxes, Aunt Jemima's face joined her name on the product label.
  Of southern origins, the "mammy" maintained her essential character as a popular icon when she moved north to a national market and distribution. In 1893, a living Aunt Jemima debuted as a legendary cook at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The "real" Aunt Jemima distributed her life story as a pamphlet and through advertising vignettes in popular magazines. James Webb Young, an "adman" exploited the loves, hates, and aspirations of the target market: white female housewives eager to please their husbands and experiencing servant problems. During the early twentieth century through the 1920s, the advertising industry connected her image to the antebellum southern ideal of racial order and white leisure."
  The quote #2. From the life story of the woman who once impersonated the Aunt. (
  "Nancy Green was born a slave in Montgomery County, Kentucky in 1834. Her given name was Nancy Green, but the world knew her as "Aunt Jemima." Although the famous Aunt Jemima recipe was not hers, she became the advertising world's first living trademark. She was attractive, friendly, a good storyteller, and an excellent cook. Her ability to project her warm and appealing personality made her the ideal "Aunt Jemima."
  In 1889, the Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix was introduced in St. Joseph, Missouri after Chris L. Rutt, a newspaperman, and Charles G. Underwood bought the Pearl Milling Company. Searching for a novel product to survive in a highly competitive business, the two men hit on the original idea of developing and packaging a ready-mixed, self-rising pancake flour.
  In the fall of 1889, Rutt attended a vaudeville show where he heard a catchy tune called "Aunt Jemima," sung by a blackfaced performer, clad in apron and bandana headband. Soon after, the whole town was humming the song, and Rutt immediately decided that Aunt Jemima was the name for his pancake mix. Short on capital, Rutt and Underwood went broke and sold the formula to the R.T. Davis Milling Company in 1890. Davis decided to try a new idea, and began looking for a Negro woman to employ as a living trademark for his new product. He found Nancy Green in Chicago, Illinois. She was 59 at the time and worked in the home of a judge.
  In 1893, the Davis Milling executives boldly decided to risk their entire future with an all-out promotion at the gigantic World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. They constructed the world's largest flour barrel. "Aunt Jemima," in the person of Nancy Green, demonstrated the pancake mix. She kept up lively conversation with the crowd, while making and serving thousands of pancakes. She was such a sensation that special details of policemen had to be assigned to keep the crowds moving at the Aunt Jemima exhibition booth.
  Davis received over 50,000 orders from merchants all over America and foreign countries. Fair officials awarded Nancy Green a medal and certificate for her showmanship, and proclaimed her the "Pancake Queen." Davis signed her to a lifetime contract, and she traveled on promotional tours all over the country. Because of Nancy Green's fame, her arrival was usually announced on giant billboards. The Davis Company prospered, and by 1910, the name of "Aunt Jemima" was known in all 48 states and had attained such popularity that many person tried to infringe on the trademark rights.
  Until the emergence of Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix, the bulk of flour sales were made in the winter. After the success of the Nancy Green promotion, flour sales were up year-long and pancakes were no longer considered exclusively for breakfast. The Davis Company later ran into money problems and had to sell, but Nancy Green maintained her job until she was killed by a car on the streets of Chicago's southside on September 24, 1923.
  In 1925, the Aunt Jemima Mills were purchased by the Quaker Oats Company of Chicago. In the image of "Aunt Jemima," the Nancy Green legend lives on."
  And quote #3. About Aunt and whole oppressed black sisterhood.
  "Throughout history, labels have been pinned on black women. But there are four that have truly worn down on them: Mammy, Aunt Jemima, Sapphire and Jezebel. They all have individual qualities, yet, they equal up to the same unattractive equation.
  Mammy was a figure created by white media. She was the dark skinned, obese, jubilant worker for the master of her plantation, or after the Emancipation Proclamation, her employer. She was always protective of the white family for which she cared. They were her first priority; her ultimate joy was pleasing them. She was seen happy with a constant obnoxious grin. And most of all, she was viewed being content with her enslavement and oppression.
  These images of black women were carried throughout the south and especially to the north. White villagers in small communities who had never seen black people before, received their first understanding of black women through the "mammy." She was in movies, on labels, made into magnets and figurines. She was even internalized by the children who watched cartoons. Mammy was the first character made, but not the last.
  The next role of the black woman was Aunt Jemima. Aunt Jemima had the same qualities as Mammy, but her main focus was cooking. She would cook the food, wash the dishes and talk to the little white children at the same time. Aunt Jemima became so popular, they put her on a pancake box and a syrup bottle.
  Another character created in light of black women was the woman named Sapphire. Sapphire was mainly the joke of plays and minstrel music shows. She was fairly smaller than Mammy and Aunt Jemima.
  She was a loud mouth sasser, usually belittling her husband. She was set up to maker her husband look inferior, therefore setting bad standards for the black family.
  The last stereotype is a unique one. She is name Jezebel and is half white. She is always the seducer of a white man. Jezebel is light enough to get him, but not white enough to keep him. She is seen a pretty but loose woman, always focused on sexual encounters with white men."
From: Vladimir Sovetov
  So in fact Aunt Jemima was first among so called racist stereotypes of blacks that Frank imaginatively used
  And to balance it with oppressed black brothers
  But putting all ideology aside, isn't it funny, the names themself of Aunt Jemima's pancake mix inventors
Chris L. Rutt and Charles G. Underwood
  Looks as if Frank was able to manupulate the God's own history for his Dadas ends.
  To Album Refs
To Global Refs
Queen of my heart
hear my plea
  This's a very popular line in doo-wop songs of the 50s.
  For more plea particular and doo-wop general clues check out Cheap Thrills. CRUSING WITH RUBEN & THE JETSA
  To Album Refs
To Global Refs
Electric Aunt Jemima
Cook a bunch for me

Brownies in the basin
From: Charles Ulrich <>
  The crucial ingredient is chocolate.
  To Album Refs
To Global Refs
Monza by the street light
  Monza - Another make of automobile.

Previous entry This Album Refs Global N&C Refs Songs Index Next entry

SOVA NOSE Any proposal? I'd like to hear!
Provocation, compilation and design © Vladimir Sovetov, 1994-2004
You could download, copy and redistribute this material freely as long as you keep copyright notice intact and don't make any profite on it.