Ben Stein misses the ‘large African American woman chef’ no longer on his syrup bottle

A man with white hair wearing glasses and a suit.
Ben Stein, seen in 2007, has sparked outrage on Twitter.
(Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press)

Ferris Bueller’s economics teacher is getting slammed on social media for his rant about America’s corporate culture ... and pancake syrup.

On Monday night, Ben Stein, the “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” actor known for his monotone voice, posted a bizarre video to his Truth Social account in which he displayed a bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup while blaming the “inherent racism of America’s corporate culture” for making the syrup less suited to his preferences.

“I am about to do something which I sometimes do, which is to make breakfast for dinner,” he opened the video.


“Aunt Jemima, yummy, pancake syrup. Now this used to show a large African American woman chef, but because of the inherent racism of America’s corporate culture, they decided to make it a white person,” he said glancing at the bottle and then realizing there’s actually no white person on the label. “Or maybe no person at all.

“But I preferred it when it was a Black person showing their incredible skill at making pancakes,” Stein, 78, added.

Quaker Oats plans to change the image and name of its Aunt Jemima breakfast products, a major shift for a brand that dates back more than 130 years.

June 17, 2020

In 2021 PepsiCo Inc. rebranded its Aunt Jemima pancake-and-syrup line as Pearl Milling Company in an effort to eliminate its ties to racist tropes.

Stein’s video appears to have been a promo for “The World According to Ben Stein” podcast episode that aired Tuesday. In the episode’s description, Stein said he sat down with co-host Judah Friedman and Trump EPA chief of staff Mandy Gunasekara “to discuss the effects of woke corporate culture in society and the ongoing war against Aunt Jemimah [sic] as well [sic] other corporate icons.”

“Is erasure the path for progress?” the description reads. “We don’t think so either. Plus we discuss the consequences of weak leadership from the White House and the destabilizing effects that is having on our security interests both here and abroad.”

The indisputably racist brand, and its bewildering longevity, speaks to the power of marketing in reinforcing offensive stereotypes.

June 17, 2020

Twitter did its thing and now Stein is being slammed for his syrup complaint.

Harvard Kennedy School professor Cornell William Brooks tweeted, “Don’t pancakes taste as good without stereotypes? Uncle Ben why do you need Aunt Jemima? PS Your name is Ben Stein, hers was Mrs. Nancy Green. Respect.”


“Is anyone surprised that Ben Stein is a racist. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?” tweeted @BobHille.

Actor and stuntman D. Russo chimed in, writing, “‘I like MY pancake syrup served out of a bottle that is a LITERAL RACIST TROPE.’-Ben Stein.”

“Aunt Jemima is based on the common ‘Mammy’ archetype, a plump black woman wearing a headscarf who is a devoted and submissive servant. Her skin is dark and dewy, with a pearly white smile, but please, Ben go on about equality,” tweeted @travis_rexrode.