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Politicon 2018

Source: Michael S. Schwartz / Getty

Actor Ben Stein may be well-known for his monotonous delivery as Mr. Lorensax in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and as a spokesperson for Visine Eye Drops. But the outspoken 78-year-old conservative commentator showed plenty of emotion as he waxed nostalgic for days when breakfast tables across the United States still came with a side of Mammy.

Aunt Jemima, yummy, pancake syrup,” Stein said in a video recently posted to the Truth Social app. “Now, this used to show a large African American woman chef, but because of the inherent racism of Americans’ corporate culture, they decided to make it a white person, or maybe no person at all… But, I prefer when it was a Black person, showing their incredible skill at making pancakes. So, God bless you all and have a good evening.”

In February 2021, Aunt Jemima was rebranded to the Pearl Milling Company, with the slogan “New Name Same Great Taste.” The change came in the wake of much civil uproar during the previous year. Some of those moments included the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Kristin Kroepfl, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Quaker Foods North America said the following in a June 2020 statement: “As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations. We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype. While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough.”

But Stein’s complaint around the absence of a Black woman at his breakfast table may speak to a greater distaste for a new flavor of Blackness. In 2019, he appeared on the Fox News program Trish Regan Primetime, and Regan stated that the unemployment rate for Black Americans was the lowest it had ever been up to that point in the country’s history.

“Are traditional Black Democrats saying, ‘Hey, maybe the Democratic Party has failed me? Maybe I need to rethink this?'” she asked, drumming up sympathy for former President Donald Trump.

“There is a very deep attachment to Black people feeling like they’re the underdogs and feeling like they’ve been victimized,” Stein answered. “And for a very long time they were the underdogs and they were being victimized so you can see why they feel that way.”

Here’s how Twitter is reacting to the whole situation so far: