Aunt Jemima Heirs Sue Pepsi & Quaker Oats
D. W. Hunter, the grandson of Anna Short Harrington, also known as “Aunt Jemima,” has filed a class action lawsuit against PepsiCo Inc., Quaker Oats Co., Pinnacle Foods and Hillshire Brands on behalf of Harrington’s grandchildren.
Hunter is claiming that the companies purposely withheld information that identified his great-grandmother as an employee of Quaker Oats, all while exploiting her image and recipes for profit and refusing to pay an “equitable fair share of royalties” to her family members for more than 60 years.
Additionally, the suit alleges that the companies deposited Harrington’s image inside of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office even though they claimed to not have any employment records or pictures of her.
Quaker Oats did not comment on the details of the litigation, but believes there is no truth to the case.
“People associate The Aunt Jemima Brand with warmth, hospitality and comfort, and we stand by this heritage as well as the ways in which we do business,” the company told the Chicago Tribune.
Hunter filed the suit on Aug. 5 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and is seeking $2 billion, plus punitive damages.
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