Who knows? It may take months or years for you to come
to a resting place in your life that you can finally accept
that they are gone and are not to return.
No more smiling faces or witty sayings…just profound
silence as you talk to them during your times of grief and
loss, hoping against hope that they will somehow reappear,
just once, to say all is well.
Well, the black community will lose three or four such
friends or is in the process of losing those close
confidants who laughed when you laughed and cried when you
I will, with a heavy heart, say a final goodbye to my
AUNT JEMIMA! Who could of thunk it that the bandana wearing
grandmother for the ages would be retired from her eternal
perch on the pancake mix box!
But, it is true. The owners of that venerated image have
decided to retire good ol’ auntie to the dustbin of history
and with that sudden retirement, goes hundreds of childhood
memories of waking up to Auntie whipping up a batch of dem
good ol’ pancakes!
Oh, the smell of those delicious circles of syrup covered
flap jacks would have you jumping out of bed and making a
bee line for the kitchen so you could thank Auntie once
again for her loving kindness of making your day, great!
Now, with auntie being told to turn in her bandana and
scarf and with you, with little or no chance to say a formal
goodbye to auntie, you are left with the sinking feeling
that all is not right with the world. Nope. Not at all
Breakfast will never be the same again without a smiling
UNCLE BEN! Don’t go there! Of all people, how dare
anyone creep up on THE Uncle to the Black Community and
dismiss him as being no longer relevant or hip!
How dare you sir! How dare you!
Uncle Ben stood the test of time with his pleasant
smile and the familiarity of his orange rice box being a go
to favorite for families for decades upon decades.
Uncle Ben was one of us. Oh sure, he was made fun of
since he was not sporting an Afro or demanding reparations,
but the Uncle knew the deal and he stuck to his bargain and
smiled at us from his lofty perch on the box; and told us in
no uncertain words, “Everything will work out for the best!”
When things got tough and you needed a break, it was a
simple reflex to reach for the orange box and, “Voila!”
there was Uncle Ben giving you a thumbs up sign that you
would make it regardless of the challenges.
THE CHEF ON THE CREAM OF WHEAT BOX! No, not him! Now, this
is getting personal. I grew up on Cream of Wheat! I still
make it now at home! I use sugar and margarine and make the
cereal so stiff so that the spoon can literally stand up on
its own in the bowl.
They say his early name was, Rastus, but to me he was a
hospitable gentleman in his white chef’s hat and a smile
that said, “Regardless of what they say about me, I am here
I raised my three kids on Cream of Wheat! I feed it to
my grandkids. When I sit down to eat a bowl of Cream of
Wheat and I look at the picture of the chef on the box, I
can imagine him winking at me and asking me about my plans
for the day.
Now, white corporate America is having feelings of
racial guilt and will have those three family members
removed from their advertisements (including a kindly and
soft-spoken Mrs. Butterworth syrup of all people!) and will
“reimagine” those historical images. Is nothing sacred?
So, I say, with a heavy heart, goodbye to the Chef, to
the Uncle, to Mrs. Butterworth and to my favorite aunt, Aunt
Jemima and hope that one day they will get together,
reminisce and have a good laugh about how they became
synonymous with good eats, being politically correct and
Contact Lafe Tolliver at