When Quaker Oats announced last month that its iconic Aunt Jemima syrup and other food products would be rebranded, it had some unexpected positive consequences for a suburban business owner.
Fore more than thirty years, Michelle Hoskins of South Holland has successfully sold a pancake syrup created by her great-great-great grandmother, a former slave.
As soon as it was announced that Aunt Jemima would begin to be phased out, Hoskins’ syrup quickly became a viral sensation, with new customers crashing her website.
“I was shocked,” Hoskins said. “It just changed my company, it changed my life. It made the 35 years worth the perseverance. I was just going to sit here and to hope that I can grow this brand enough where the legacy means something.”
Hoskins said she had been praying for more exposure for her product, and on the day before Quaker made its announcement, her daughter posted a photo to Instagram asking individuals to choose between Aunt Jemima syrup and Michelle’s Syrup.
Hoskins says that in the aftermath of the Quaker decision, her syrup will now be stocked by a slew of national retailers, including Kroger, Food 4 Less, and Roundy’s. Her syrup was already on store shelves at Jewel locations, and will be added to Mariano’s offerings beginning this fall.
She says that her intention isn’t just to replace Aunt Jemima, because that is a brand of a different era. Instead, she hopes the public will embrace her Black-owned business, and the product that she has dedicated so much of her life to selling.
“I was sitting in a spot hiding behind (Aunt Jemima) all these years, and now all of a sudden a light is now shining on us,” she said.