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not the mason-dixon line but possibly just as important - Come along and yap with me, perhaps we'll yap in harmony. [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
A. Hamster

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not the mason-dixon line but possibly just as important [Oct. 23rd, 2008|10:23 pm]
A. Hamster
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This world is made up of lines, lines that often don't exist anywhere except in our heads. Where one country or state leaves off and another begins. Property rights. Things that divide us, things that we don't even know have been dividing us for years.

Like mayonnaise.

That's the line I'm talking about here: the Hellmann's-Best Foods Line.

Over the course of a hundred years, two mayonnaise empires were carved out, joined, and then united in their division. More specifically: in 1905 one Richard Hellmann, previously a German forest-dweller, came to America and married into a delicatessen family. People liked his wife's mayonnaise so much that he started selling it in "wooden boats" that were used for weighing butter, and eventually demand (and splinters) grew to the point where he decided glass jars were a better idea.

At almost the exact same time Best Foods started selling mayonnaise in California, but without the benefit of a charming immigrant story. These two spheres of ever-increasing influence finally came into contact somewhere over the Rockies, and then just as two small globs of mayo become one large one, the two companies were merged.

But brand-name recognition being what it is, both mayonnaises and their individual recipes were preserved. The look of the packaging, the marketing campaigns, everything else would be identical, but the names and recipes would be different. (Check out the websites at Hellmann's and Best Foods. Watch the logo at the Best Foods site as it briefly flashes "Hellmann's" before changing!)

The upshot of all this is that after the merger, one could no longer buy Hellmann's Mayonnaise west of the Rockies, nor Best Foods Mayonnaise east of the Rockies. This continues to this day.

Which brings me to my point: somewhere in this country there is an invisible line. On each side of this line there is a grocery store or gas station. One will have Hellmann's, and the other Best Foods. I would like to know where this line is. Is it possible that somewhere there might even be a store that carries both brands?

And could a map be drawn to show this division? It's possible the Dutch already have one, Unilever bought the company in the 90s but preserved the name divide. They swapped out the glass jars for plastic ones, though, and introduced the 30 oz. quart. They also diddled with the recipes, I'm finding out as I'm finishing this. And here I thought the subtle difference in mayonnaise was just because I switched coasts.

Oh well, I'm honestly more of a hot sauce person anyway.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: sallybanner
2008-10-24 01:01 pm (UTC)
my dad was telling me about that. I said, ok so in california, is the commercial bring out the best foods and bring out the best and my moronic step mom was like WOW HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT.
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From: astolpho
2008-10-24 04:42 pm (UTC)
it's bring out the hellman's and bring out the best over there? that jingle doesn't make any sense at all without the best foods brand name.
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[User Picture]From: sallybanner
2008-10-24 06:38 pm (UTC)
yes, it is hellmans, but on the label for hellman's, it says "best foods" so we pretty much get the idea of the jingle. also it tastes better than kraft, so while not CLEVER, it is RIGHT.
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[User Picture]From: ahamster
2008-10-24 06:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was never really a fan of Kraft's mayo. And is it just me, or has the quality of their cheese been going downhill? The singles were the best thing ever in the 80s, but now they seem to taste like vegetable oil.
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[User Picture]From: masterhibb
2008-10-24 03:05 pm (UTC)
All that matters is both are supremely better than Miracle Whip.
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[User Picture]From: ahamster
2008-10-24 05:16 pm (UTC)
Well, in all fairness to Miracle Whip, it was the Great Depression, and there tweren't many folks who could afford to put straight mayonnaise on their sandwiches. That is, until the patented "Miracle Whip" emulsifying machine made its debut in 1933 and provided a cheaper alternative made from mayo and salad dressing:



So, think of it as hobo mayonnaise!
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[User Picture]From: transfestunerix
2008-10-24 06:32 pm (UTC)
I reckon the thing you seek is similar to the Hardee's versus Carl's Jr. map. My becoming aware of this particular example was serendipitous to a quest for information on another topic, as I reside within one of the grey states which welcomes neither establishment. I wish I could say the same about mayonnaise, which loves to make itself my business without permission.
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[User Picture]From: sallybanner
2008-10-24 06:39 pm (UTC)
I wish there was a hardee's within an hour's drive of this place
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[User Picture]From: ahamster
2008-10-24 06:58 pm (UTC)
Oh man, me too. If the menus are the same at Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, a Western Bacon Cheeseburger would PUNISH right about now.
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From: astolpho
2008-10-24 09:35 pm (UTC)
All of our local Carls recently expanded their menus to become Carls/Green Burrito hybrid establishments. And while I know that the Green Burrito is supposed to be a step up from Taco Bell the way Carls is a step up from pretty much any other fast food establishment, in practice it feels like a step down from any of the dozens of local taquerias. (Whereas Taco Bell is still distinctly fast-foody and fakey enough to be able to spawn cravings in it's own category, i.e. sometimes I want mexican, and sometimes I want Taco Bell, and these things are not the same.)
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[User Picture]From: ahamster
2008-10-24 11:12 pm (UTC)
i.e. sometimes I want mexican, and sometimes I want Taco Bell, and these things are not the same.

YES

Few people outside of California/the Southwest understand that distinction, especially when I complain that I haven't had Mexican food in 4 years (my last visit to SD) and inevitably hear "why don't you just go get some Taco Bell?" >:(

And don't get me wrong about Taco Bell—in high school everyone I knew would respond to either their first name, their last name, or their Taco Bell order. But Mexican? You get that at a place called Cotija, or at a -berto's.
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[User Picture]From: ahamster
2008-10-25 05:14 am (UTC)
nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo D:
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[User Picture]From: ahamster
2008-10-26 07:16 am (UTC)
That actually happened here! Not for taquerias, unfortunately, so I can't score what I'm really looking for, but there is this one Mexican place in Lake Placid that got an actual Mexican cook one year who taught them to make their dishes more authentic.

You should see the Mexican food in North Dakota, though. D:
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[User Picture]From: specific_chris
2008-10-25 10:11 pm (UTC)
Well dammit now I'm hungry for Mexican food... I hope there's a place within a reasonable bicycle-ride's distance...
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[User Picture]From: ahamster
2008-10-26 07:17 am (UTC)
Right now I'd settle for one that's no more than a 2-hour drive. That's how far I have to go for Denny's!
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[User Picture]From: ahamster
2008-10-24 07:11 pm (UTC)
Ah, that is exactly what I would be looking for! Well, that and a road trip to fulfill this semi-pointless curiosity, I'll bet the Rockies are nice driving this time of year.

As far as Hardee's goes—I'm right on the cusp of the grey states, but I may as well be Vermont for all intents and purposes.
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From: psyche_rainvae
2008-10-25 04:05 am (UTC)
I've been living on the west coast for like three years and NEVER NOTICED that Hellmann's no longer exists. Granted, I hate mayonnaise, but it still kind of boggles me and I can't wait to check this out next time I'm at the grocery store.
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[User Picture]From: ahamster
2008-10-25 05:13 am (UTC)
There's little things that make switching coasts seem like moving to a foreign land. Something that threw me is that on the east coast, you can still pump before you pay.

And truthfully, I have to say that I like writing about mayonnaise more that I like eating it. ;-P
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[User Picture]From: ahamster
2008-10-25 04:53 am (UTC)
My little secret is that I do too! If I'm having a tuna sandwich then that is what I'm using on it. P:
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[User Picture]From: ahamster
2008-10-26 07:20 am (UTC)
OK we are totally on the same page here! Boo to the raw onions in it, if I want more crunch I'll have some Cheetos with it. P:
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[User Picture]From: specific_chris
2008-10-25 10:10 pm (UTC)
This post is AWESOME

Seriously you should make posts like these about food more often!

I didn't even KNOW there was a brand called Best Foods, and that's because I have never been farther West than Texas, but I have been all over the East and there's never been a question of "which major brand mayonnaise is sold here"... I guess the other factor is that I have never been a big fan of mayonnaise, and in fact wouldn't even touch the stuff until about age 20. I'm ok with it now, just not enough to notice these things, UNTIL NOW.
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[User Picture]From: ahamster
2008-10-26 07:35 am (UTC)
Thanks! I am definitely going to try to post more often; I'll see what other tidbits I can dig up.

I've heard rumors that El Paso used to carry both, back in the '80s. :D
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