Geo-Location By Mayonnaise

Many years ago, as a youngster living in Oregon, I found the following inscription on a jar of Best Foods mayonnaise:

IMG 4436

This seemed faintly odd to me at the time. Why would one brand of mayo have two different names, and why would one name be chosen based upon what part of the country it’s being sold in? And besides, who cares? It’s just mayo, right? “Gee, honey, I love living in California, but I really wish we could still buy the Hellmann’s mayonnaise I grew up with in Rhode Island. All I can find is this Best Foods stuff.” Now that I’m a bit older and run two businesses, I’m somewhat more appreciative of the importance of brand recognition. As a kid it just seemed silly that they’d go to the length of mentioning this on their labels.

Years later, after I moved to Boulder, I happened to need mayonnaise. (It’s not something I buy frequently, mind you.) The inscription came to mind–why, I don’t know; it must’ve made quite an impression upon me originally. Hence I figured I was looking for Hellmann’s, since Boulder is in fact east of the Rockies, just barely. Somewhat to my chagrin I found the familiar Best Foods brand on the shelf in the grocery store. It still had the same mention of Hellmann’s on the label, but apparently Boulder’s location just east of the Rockies isn’t enough to qualify it for membership in the Hellmann’s territories.

Years after that I pointed out the passage to Tracie and related the tale to her. Recently we needed mayo for sandwiches so I picked up a jar of Best Foods at our usual supermarket. I bought the smallest one that they had because we usually don’t eat much mayo. However, I ended up on something of a fish-salad-sandwich kick and went through most of the jar fairly quickly. Tracie happened to go to the store next, and returned in excited triumph bearing a jar labeled Hellmann’s.

IMG 4435

Apparently I overlooked it on my visit (maybe because I was focusing on the smallest jars, or because I was in a hurry), or maybe they added it since my visit. In any case, there it is. Of course I had to determine whether it has the converse notation on its label and was oddly pleased to find that it does:

IMG 4437

So apparently Boulder, which is situated just east of the Rockies, but against their foothills, exists in a sort of condiment Lagrange point or neutral zone in which both brands are available.

Tracie asked whether I’d ever found out why one kind of mayonnaise has two different brand names. I replied, “no, but I’ve never googled it.” She did, and found a somewhat lengthy explanation in Wikipedia, the source of all manner of obscure information. As I guessed, the story began with a corporate acquisition of one brand by the other. It’s somewhat surprising that they’ve preserved both names for this long, particularly since (according to the article) they have to create two sets of advertisements for them.

By adam

Go ahead, try to summarize yourself in a sentence or two.


  1. “Hellman’s” is the winner in my book. Maybe I’m slightly biased because I grew up east of the rockies, but the ad jingle is so much better. “Bring out the Hellman’s, and bring out the best”. “Bring out the Best Foods…” just sounds…silly (not to mention redundant).

  2. You have awakened a jingle that has apparently lain dormant in my brain for 50+ years. It was sung by a squawking cartoon chicken:

    “The whole egg, the whole egg,
    that’s what goes into Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise!
    Hellmann’s is so good so many ways
    ’cause Hellmann’s is the Re-al Mayonnaise! (Squawksquawk, squawk squawk!)”

    …Well, maybe you hadda be there in New Jersey in the 1950s to really appreciate it…

  3. …aaand “condiment Lagrange point” is officially my favourite phrase of the week.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *