You wouldn't know her by her original name, but Anna Harrington moved to Syracuse almost a century ago seeking work and somehow found it, eventually living on in our cupboardsas the all-too-familiar Aunt Jemima.

Photo: Keith James
Photo: Keith James

Although she wasn't the first person to play the character (or the last) and the brand has been around since the Civil War era, hers was the likeness with the red bandana that Quaker Oats used for all of their products in the 60's. Her appointment came by chance as the company, who had been without someone to put on the Aunt Jemima apron for a whole decade, happened upon 38-year-old Anna flipping pancakes for the 1935 NYS Fair attendees. They snatched up their new breakfast mascot on the spot and even with her newfound national fame, Anna never lost touch with her Syracuse 'hometown', frequently cooking for SU fraternities and visiting local schools. She even bought a mansion and rented out it's rooms, most likely flipping pancakes for boarders too. She died only six short years following her 14-year tenure as Aunt Jemima and her house was eventually demolished to make way for I-81.


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