The Quaker Oats Company is an American food conglomerate known for its breakfast cereals, porridge, and oat-based snacks. The company was founded in 1877 (as Quaker Mill Company) and has had a complex history with many milestone achievements.
Now known as “Quaker Oats” after being bought by PepsiCo in 2001, the company was founded by Henry Seymour in Ravenna, Ohio 145 years ago. Quaker Oats picked its name based on the Quaker qualities of “integrity, honesty, and purity” and based their logo on William Penn, a philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania. The Quaker Mill Company successfully applied for the first trademark for a breakfast cereal in 1877 which depicted “a man in Quaker garb”. However, the company has stated they don’t have any ties with the Religious Society of Friends.
Henry Crowell, an American businessman, bought the Quaker Mill Company in 1881. He launched a national advertising campaign a year later – it was the first cereal box you could buy in quantities other than bulk. He also bought the Quaker Oat Mill Company, and became known as the “cereal tycoon”.
In 1901 the Quaker Oats Company was founded in New Jersey. It was formed as a merger between four oat mills: the Quaker Mill Company (which had the Quaker name trademark), Cedar Rapids, German Mills American Oatmeal Company, and the Rob Lewis & Co. American Oats and Barely Oatmeal Corporation. Henry Crowell acquired this whole merged company (and continued to own the Quaker Oat Mill Company as well). Quaker Oats then acquired the Great Western Cereal Company in 1911.
Following this merger, Quaker Oats introduced many innovations as part of its marketing campaigns. They were the first to introduce cookie recipes on the box in 1908. They also released their now iconic cylindrical packaging in 1915 and offered a cereal box premium in the same year. Buyers could send in one dollar and a cutout of the “Quaker Man” in exchange for a double boiler to cook their oatmeal with. In the early 1920s, Quaker Oats introduced an early version of convenience food – the “Quaker Quick Oats”. They also launched a campaign where customers could buy a crystal radio set built in the same cylindrical canister as Quick Oats for $1 plus two trademarks cut out of the Quaker Oats packages.
Quaker Oats continued its success over the years. From the late 60s onwards they became so big that they started to acquire and sell companies such as Fisher-Price (a toy company), US Games (game creator for Atari 2600), Gatorade (a sports drink), Snapple (tea and juice drinks), and many more. They also financed the popular 1971 film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where, in return, they obtained a license to sell candy bars using product names mentioned in the movie.
PepsiCo acquired Quaker Oats in 2001. They have a major Canadian production facility located in Peterborough, Ontario. After the acquisition, PepsiCo consolidated its other Canadian operating facilities to the same location under the QTG moniker – which stands for Quaker Tropicana Gatorade. At this site, they produce Quaker Oatmeal, Quaker Oat Bran, Quaker Chewy Bars, Cap’n Crunch Cereal, Pearl Milling Company instant pancake mixes, pancake syrups, and Corn Bran Cereals.
Famous Quaker Oats Trademarks
As a company that was founded in 1877 and quick to trademark its Quaker name, it’s no surprise that Quaker Oats has a huge number of trademarks registered. Though the company didn’t start trademarking its assets until 2007, after being taken over by PepsiCo.
Quaker Oats currently has over one hundred trademarks registered with USPTO. Over the years, the brand has run many innovative marketing campaigns and has a huge number of products to its name, as well as owning several other brands. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular Quaker Oats Trademarks, registered by The Quaker Oats Company.
Though many won’t have even realized that CAP’N CRUNCH cereal is made under the Quaker Oats name, it was the first thing they trademarked back in 2007. Specifically, this was for the CAP’N CRUNCH’S HALLOWEEN CRUNCH cereal. Over the years the brand has made many special editions of the breakfast product and had them trademarked including:
- “CAP’N CRUNCH DELIGHTS”
- “CAP’N CRUNCH’S ORANGE CREAMPOP CRUNCH”
- “CAP’N CRUNCH’S HOME RUN CRUNCH”
- “CAP’N CRUNCH’S TOUCHDOWN CRUNCH”
- “CAP’N CRUNCH’S SPRINKLED DONUT CRUNCH”
- “CAP’N CRUNCH’S BERRYTASTIC PANCAKE MIX”
- “CAP’N CRUNCH’S CRUNCH MEGA BERRIES”
- “CAP’N CRUNCH’S BIRTHDAY CRUNCH”
For now, let’s look at the original “CAP’N CRUNCH” trademark, registered in 2012. It has been updated throughout the years, with the most recent being as of 2022, and applies to:
- Toy candy dispensers; toy figures; molded toy figures
- Breakfast cereals; grain-based food bars; grain-based snack foods; pancake mixes; pancake syrup
- Downloadable virtual goods, namely, computer programs featuring food products for use in online virtual worlds; digital media, namely, downloadable multimedia files containing artwork, text, audio, and video relating to food authenticated by non-fungible tokens.
- (Pending) Video game interactive hand-held remote controls for playing electronic games; video game interactive remote control units; player-operated electronic controllers for electronic video game machines; protective carrying cases specially adapted for video game consoles for use with an external display screen or monitor; protective carrying cases specially adapted for handheld video games.
Quaker man logo
The iconic “Quaker Man” Quaker Oats logo has had some changes since its original conception in 1877, but they have largely remained of the same character. Despite stating that they have no ties with the Religious Society of Friends, the original Quaker man is said to be William Penn, a philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania.
The original 1877 logo featured a full-length sketch of a Quaker man in black and white holding a scroll with “pure” written on it. In 1956 Jim Nash adjusted this image to be just of the Quaker man from the shoulders up, also in black and white. This version of the logo only lasted a year before being added some color by Harold Sundblond (most famously known for his Coca-Cola Santa Claus illustrations). This featured the Quaker man in full color within a yellow-rimmed oval. The oval sits in a red rectangle with a navy rectangle below featuring the words “Quaker” written in white.
The logo had a dramatic change in 1972 when it was changed to a light blue square with the Quaker man outlined in white in the middle. This was changed back to the more classic red version in the late 70s. It wasn’t until 2007 that it was reverted to a similar version of the Harold Sunblom design. The logo has been updated slightly a couple of times since then but largely remains the same.
The Quaker Oats logo that we all see today was filed for a trademark in 2016 and registered by USPTO in 2019. The description of the illustration is: “The mark consists of a stylized smiling man, with peach colored skin, light blue and white eyes, and brown eyebrows, white shoulder-length hair, wearing a dark blue wide-brimmed hat, a dark blue coat that has two black buttons, and a white cravat. The word “QUAKER” appears in stylized dark blue lettering across the bottom of the image.”
There are also separate trademarks for the same logo but with “EST 1877” underneath, and one without any words at all The quaker logo is trademarked for:
- Cookies; grain-based snack foods; granola; granola snacks; oatmeal; ready-to-eat cereals; rice-based snack foods; ready to eat, cereal derived food bars
- Oat-based beverages for use as a milk substitute
Related: Trademarking a logo
Quaker Oats has made sure to trademark its individual product names to ensure something similar is not used by competitors. One of these is their range of oat snacks, called “Quaker Chewy”. The trademark was registered in 2006 and applies to:
- Grain-based snack bars consisting primarily of grain, and grain-based snack bars containing chocolate, nuts, and/or dried fruit
“Life” is one of Quaker Oats’ brands of cereal which is designed to be “heart healthy” and doesn’t include any artificial flavors. The original logo was trademarked back in 2012 but has changed over time.
Its most recent version was trademarked in 2020 with the description being: “The mark consists of the stylized word “LIFE”; the “L” is in the color blue, the “I” is in the color red with a stylized red square over the “I”, The “F” is in the color yellow and the “E” is in the color green all in a stylized lower case format. Each of the letters has a white reflection along its edge. The white background represents a transparent area and is not part of the mark.”
Quaker Oats also have pending trademarks for this illustration too. Trademarks for “Life” cover:
- Breakfast cereals; ready-to-eat cereals
- Cereal-based snack bars; cereal-based snack foods
- Biscuits; cookies
- Grain-based food bars; ready-to-eat, cereal-derived food bars
Off you go
“Off you go” was a phrase used in a 2015 Quaker Oats television advert that featured a young girl being fed oatmeal by her mother before running off to school. It then shows the little girl growing up through time at key points in her life – graduation, moving house, and eventually feeding her own little girl oatmeal. “Off you go” is a song that plays in this ad, and is the slogan used at the end. Quaker Oats trademarked this phrase in 2016 and it applies to:
Quaker Chewy Play Fund
The charitable arm of the Quaker Oats brand, Quaker Chewy has partnered with the American Camp Association to provide access to play for kids with a camp-themed program. They want to send kids to camp who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend. The Quaker Chew Play Fund was filed for a trademark in 2021 and is still pending, but if successful, it will apply to:
- Charitable services, namely, providing financial support to organizations and missions that help enrich children’s lives through play
Pearl Milling Company
Pearl Milling Company was known as the brand “Aunt Jemima” until as recently as June 2021. Quaker Oats bought the Aunt Jemima brand (est 1889) in 1925, which was famous for its ready-made pancake mixes. Under Quaker Oats, they released a range of pancake syrups over time.
PepsiCo acquired Quaker Oats and subsequently Aunt Jemima in 2001, but it wasn’t until 2021 that they decided to rebrand to Pearl Milling Company. The reason behind the company’s decision to rebrand was based on the imagery of “Aunt Jemima” which they believed was “based on racial stereotype”. They had tried updating the logo over the years to “make progress towards racial equality”, but ultimately decided to rename the brand. PepsiCo chose the name “Pearl Milling Company” as they were the ones who developed the original first ever ready-mix pancake mix in 1888 for the Aunt Jemima brand. Quaker Oats continues to use the Aunt Jemima name in the brand’s tagline for now – “the same great taste as Aunt Jemima”. PepsiCo has said they won’t be able to completely remove the Aunt Jemima brand due to trademark law or they could risk a third party being able to obtain and use the brand.
“Pearl Milling Company” was registered for a trademark in 2021 and is still pending approval, but if granted will apply to:
- Pancake mix, pancakes, pancake syrup, grits, corn meal mix, corn meal
Quaker Oats is an American food conglomerate with an interesting and complex history. Starting in 1877 they’ve been acquired by several brands and bought a number of brands themselves before being taken over by PepsiCo in 2001. They are now a huge company with a focus on providing breakfast food products and oat-related snacks.
Being such a renowned company and part of a big conglomerate, it’s no wonder that Quaker Oats has over 100 trademarks to its name. They’ve trademarked logos, brand names, product names, marketing slogans, charitable arms, as well as divisional brands and products. Their trademarks are thorough too – covering both wordmarks and illustrations for most names and slogans, making it difficult for competitors to produce similar products.
With an annual revenue of $3.8 billion, it makes sense that they’ve thoroughly trademarked their assets and IP with USPTO. It will save them many future legal battles, financial losses, and time.