If it walks like William Penn, talks like William Penn and looks like William Penn . . .
So just who is that guy in the plain black hat smiling back enigmatically from your box of oats? Today, the Quaker Oats Company, a PepsiCo subsidiary, emphatically denies that he’s Philadelphia’s honest founder, the man whose 37 foot tall statue graces the top of our city hall, William Penn.
This is what they say on the 2013 Quaker Oats website FAQ:
A: The “Quaker man” is not an actual person. His image is that of a man dressed in the Quaker garb, chosen because the Quaker faith projected the values of honesty, integrity, purity and strength.
1718 German portrait of Wm Penn
Despite what they say now, the Quaker Oats Company, “Founder of Packaged Oats,” was not always shy about identifying their product with our hero Penn, “Founder of a Great city and a great Commonwealth.”
Here’s a Quaker Oats magazine ad from 1909, click on it for a larger image:
“Sold by all Honest Grocers,” indeed.