Aunt Jemima has been a leading brand in the syrup industry for decades. Following the national protests, the brand has recently come under fire due to its racist name and logo. Since the controversy emerged, a Black-owned syrup has seen a surge in sales.
Michele Hoskins, owner of Michele Foods, said her company forever changed following the announcement that Quaker Oats would retire the Aunt Jemima brand. “My life changed,” she said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. “Our company changed. It brought awareness to us.”
“I was shocked,” she continued. “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’ company has been selling syrup since 1984. She uses a recipe that her great-great-great grandmother created back in the 1860s. “She was a slave who worked as a cook on a plantation,” Hoskins said. “The family she worked for did not like molasses. So, she came up with this concoction of honey, churned butter and cream. It was delicious.”
Her syrup line has been expanded into three flavors — butter pecan, honey crème and maple crème. The line is currently sold in almost 6,000 retailers across the country such as Kroger, Publix and Safeway.
“I’m not going to take Aunt Jemima’s place. No one ever can, because she’s a different brand from a different era,” she said. “But, if you’re looking for a minority company that sells in that category, I’m that. I think we should have the same opportunity as everyone else because we persevered.”
Beyoncé recently listed Michele’s Foods as a Black-owned business to highlight on her website following the release of her Juneteenth single “Black Parade.” If you would like to purchase from Michele’s Syrup, visit michelefoods.com for more information.