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The year 1989 marked the 100th anniversary of the Aunt Jemima trademark. The name was conceived in 1889 by Chris Rutt while he was attending a vaudeville show and watching a New Orleans-style dance number performed to a jazzy tune called "Aunt Jemima." Rutt liked the music so much he stuck the name on his products. The maple syrup came along much later, in 1964, and is now the country's largest-selling syrup.
Today some folks tell the story of how their friends or relatives once met Aunt Jemima many years ago and how she was a kind and cordial woman. Little do they realize these people were fooled by a promotional campaign for the products back in the forties and fifties that used actresses traveling from town to town dressed up and acting like the "famous women." There never really was an Aunt Jemima.
Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.