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Vintage print ad showing "mammy" figure with pancakes, and a description of "old-time plantation flavor"

Brand Curse: The Name Jemima in America

June 19, 2020 LauraWattenberg 6 min read 10 Comments

This week the Aunt Jemima pancake brand name was “retired,” bringing an end to a 131-year advertising minstrel show. The brand’s current owner, Quaker, finally bowed to the reality that no cosmetic makeover could rehabilitate a character, and business, built on a romanticized fantasy of owning human beings as property. […]

How Alexa the Product Conquered Alexa the Name

May 31, 2019 LauraWattenberg 3 min read 7 Comments

Amazon put us on a collision course. Not that we couldn’t see it coming—Apple’s Siri had sent early-warning signals years before. With Amazon’s “virtual assistant” Alexa, though, there was no escape. Human names and virtual names met head on, and the human names blinked. Alexa was America’s fastest-falling baby name […]

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