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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.

[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.


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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