|not the mason-dixon line but possibly just as important
||[Oct. 23rd, 2008|10:23 pm]
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.
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.