Who knew that there really was an Aunt Jemima! Her real name was Anna Short Harrington, and she was an employee of Quaker Oats who died in 1955. And now her heirs want a piece of a fortune they believe is rightfully theirs.
D.W. Hunter, the great grandson of Harrington, filed a class action lawsuit against PepsiCo and its related subsidiaries on behalf of Harrington’s great grandchildren. The suit alleges that PepsiCo Inc., Quaker Oats, Pinnacle Foods and Hillshire Brands Co. deliberately withheld information that identified Mrs. Harrington as a former employee of Quaker Oats while they exploited her image and her recipes for over 60 years without paying a royalty to her or her family.
Anna Short Harrington assumed the role of the breakfast matron in 1935, and “Aunt Jemima” was trademarked in 1937. Mrs. Harrington was selected for her original pancake recipe, but she was allegedly dissuaded from hiring a lawyer so she never collected royalties from the usage of her recipes.
We can only wonder how many heirs of other icons will appear? Mr. Peanut? Mr. Clean?