Updated on 5 November 2019
Perhaps the image most associated with Quakers is the smiling gentleman in historic clothes on a box of Quaker Oats.
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 it acquired the trademark on the Quaker name at the same time. In 1901 the mill merged with three others and the Quaker Oats Company name came into existence – making it the world’s first trademarked cereal.
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 George Fox for blasphemy in 1650, Derby, England. Fox, who was one of several founders of the society, is said to have told the judge after the guilty 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.”Quaker Oats Company
Images from www.quakeroats.com/