A Box of Quaker Oats


Posted on 12th October 2019

Perhaps the image most associated with Quakers is the smiling gentleman in historic clothes on a box of Quaker Oats.

Quaker Oats man circa 1900

However, there is no actual association between the Society of Friends and the well known cereal.

The Quaker Mill Company of Ravenna, Ohio was founded 1877, and acquired the trademark on the Quaker name. In 1901 the mill merged with three others and the Quaker Oats Company name came into existence.

The company chose to use the name ‘Quaker’ because Quakers had a well-earned reputation for honesty in business as well as healthy living.

How the Quakers Got Their Name

The Quakers got their name following the trial of George Fox for blasphemy in 1650. Fox, who was one of several founders of the Society, is said to have told the judge after the verdict that he should, ‘Tremble at the word of the Lord’. In reply, the judge mockingly called Fox and his followers in court ‘Quakers’. It is also likely that Friends had been called ‘Quakers’ before this due to their ecstatic shaking when worshipping, but the judge’s name-calling made sure the name stuck.

The Image of William Penn

Apart from the name, the Quaker Oats Company uses Quaker imagery in its logo.The Quaker Oats logo was used from the company’s inception and had a figure of a Quaker man depicted full-length, sometimes holding a scroll with the word “Pure” written across it.

The Quaker man was originally based upon William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania whom the company described in 1909 as a, “Standard bearer of the Quakers and of Quaker Oats.” However, today, the Quaker Oats Company says of the logo:

“The ‘Quaker man’ does not represent an actual person. His image is that of a man dressed in Quaker garb, chosen because the Quaker faith projected the values of honesty, integrity, purity and strength.”


Images from www.quakeroats.com/

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