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  • Writer's pictureSky Moss

Upstate Geechie

Mayonnaise ... a reflection


This is an article about mayonnaise. Written by a mayonnaise lover.


I expect hella people to close out or scroll on. Truth is, mayo is a divisive condiment. If you do not like it, you probably should close out or scroll. Like CD collections, one can tell much by the condiments folks subscribe to. Mustard is cool and yellow is the standard. Relish is a necessary blessing and appears throughout my childhood. Ketchup is complicated for me. I love it with my French fries and it ruins a hotdog. I think it is the sugar content, but we still associate. Horseradish, wasabi, sour cream, bleu cheese and sriracha all grace my plate on any given throw down. Mayonnaise is my mistress. We talking about mayonnaise.  


The origin story of this delicacy is a matter of controversy. There is a pervasive story involving the Seven Years War, Spain and a French chef. There are many claimants and considering the simplicity of the idea, most are defensible. Mayonnaise is essentially a combination of eggs (yolks and whites), oil, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice and salt. As sauce components, these are globally available core requirements. I tear mayonnaise up on the following, but also much more – Burgers, all submarine sandwiches, bologna sandwiches, tartar sauce, macaroni and potato salads, French fries and grits.


In Upstate we have most national brands available. Still talking about mayonnaise. Every food has been price inflated, truth is the term inflation is less relative. There are bougier mayos. As with all products,  the brand dictates price point but the taste is the most important.  In 2024 there is a renaissanceaise occurring.  New brands are appearing and generics are delicious. This is a mayonnaise story. 


Hellman's is my heart because it is the mayonnaise of my youth. The company is an early 20th century immigrant story. Born in NYC, it makes sense it is the mayo of NY.


I buy my mayonnaise in 30 fl. ounce size. 


There were essentially two mayos in the 1970s that I recall, Hellman's and Kraft. Miracle Whip is not a mayonnaise and I will return to that.  


Hellmans has gotten expensive. There are Reddits on this: Publix charges over $8.00, Wegmans comparable, but closer to $7.00. Even Dollar General has significantly raised the price on Hellman's. The price there is near $6.00.  


Hellman's is a smooth, balanced mayo with a subtle smack. It is fantastic.  


Kraft tastes like a school lunch, it is barely serviceable and too sweet.


Further south a different mayonnaise is the cultural fallback. Duke's is a South Carolina creation from the hustle of Eugenia Dukes. Duke's sold sandwiches to WWI soldiers stationed at Camp Sevier. I first tried Duke's in 2021. It tastes different than Hellman's, it has a resonance bite and a tang that is unique. It now appears in most sizable northern grocers and commands a similar price point. It is expensive mayonnaise.


This summer I am planning some taste-offs. My mac and potato salads are thorough as can be. Both approaches are my Upstate Geechie heritage – A little PA. + GA. = NY. Taking a signature dish, with the only different ingredient being the mayonnaise, it could prove informative.


Duke's now rotates through my mayonnaise black book.


There are two mayonnaises I stand on that are second tier but high quality. 


Not all mayos are the same. Photos provided by Sky Moss.


Burman's is ALDI's brand. It is made by the Benner Company (that reads DARPA). It is a versatile mayonnaise that performs in salads and sandwiches. The viscosity might be my favorite of all my loves. It is 2024 affordable and if you host, and guests be taste -discriminating (I do not), Burman's a poor folk Hellmans. At half the cost, it is my go-to.


I go through mayonnaise. At $3.74 I can use it liberally and not flinch. It is a delicious side, side.


This is a story about mayonnaise and the last character, my heart.


If Clover Valley is a real place, bury my yellow-black ass there. Dollar General has so many great in-house options. Their Classic Potato Chip, hitting Lay's, is sublime; and their spices ripe. Their mayonnaise is a delight. The price point is Burman's but the taste is different. It is my favorite sandwich mayonnaise because it has a tiny buttery accent, to me. Bury my greedy ass in Clover Valley. Word. I am not going to search the history, just write because this is currently in my refrigerator and has been. It is a real mayonnaise void of interpretation and signature, just a boss mayonnaise.


Sandwich spreads are on the walls of mayonnaise purists.  


Miracle Whip has fewer calories, more sugar and is spiced differently. We all know somebody in our family who rocks with it. To me, it's mayonnaise lost. While it has a signature; it was marketed as a bread spread. That is not mayonnaise. Not disrespecting, Mike’s Amazing Real Mayonnaise ... it is Miracle Whip's cousin, 2024. Its price point is appropriate but it's not a mayonnaise. This is Kraft Miracle Whip, lunchline ‘mayonnaise’.

 

Mayonnaise will be in my life so long as I can make a sandwich. Mayonnaise tastes perfect on iceberg lettuce, with American cheese and cured ham.


Upstate Geechie ... 2024.


Watch for the podcast ... Baba tea and Moss.

About the Author

Sky Moss is a Professor at SUNY Corning Community College. From gardening to music to clothing to politics, and sports, ask Sky and he will give you his opinion. Sky is multifaceted and his columns are always thought-provoking.

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