I got a letter from Phillip in Sacramento, California, who asked an important question. And by “important,” I mean life-or-death important:
“Sean, which brands of mayonnaise do Southerners like best?”
I immediately spotted the small error in his question. And if you live in the same part of the world as I do, you probably spotted it too.
Phillip’s question suggests that there is more than one acceptable mayonnaise brand. But there is not.
There is only one officially approved mayonnaise of the Southern Baptist Convention. This mayonnaise comes in a jar with a yellow lid and it is the secret to living a rich, satisfying life.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before I say anything else, please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t intend to be critical of other people’s mayonnaise choices. I would never do that. Just because you and I don’t see eye to eye on mayonnaise doesn’t mean that I think you are a communist. It simply means that you have strong tendencies toward communism.
So I don’t know much about Sacramento, but I’ve heard that grocery stores out West don’t carry the yellow-lid brand I mentioned earlier. This is a shame.
Then again, I suppose that mayonnaise probably isn’t part of Sacramento’s historical heritage the way it is here.
Early Californian pioneers probably had WAY more important things to worry about like taming the Western frontier, building sod huts, droughts, and surviving destructive Grateful Dead concerts. Whereas our ancestors in the Southeast were primarily concerned with perfecting our congealed salad recipes.
Still, I’ll bet that Sacramento is probably like many cities. The stores probably sell many jars that LOOK like mayo. But don’t be fooled. Even though these jars appear to be filled with mayonnaise, the jars actually contain noxious commercial automotive lubricants.
I base this statement on a study conducted by a major university last year wherein scientific researchers discovered that most people in the U.S. who admitted to buying Hellmann’s or Kraft brand mayonnaise claimed to use these products to grease the rear axles of their trucks or tractor trailers.
And let’s not even get started on Miracle Whip. My childhood friend’s mother once made several of us boys ham sandwiches with Miracle Whip. There is nothing more sacred to kid-dom than the Ham Sandwich. Especially if we’re talking about spiral-cut smoked Virginia ham.
But when my friend’s mother assembled the sandwiches, she covered the bread with three inches of white miracle slop, then attempted to pass them off as food.
My cousin, Ed Lee, took one bite and started to cry.
“What’s wrong?” said my friend.
“Your mom uses Miracle Whip,” said Ed Lee.
“So I’m sure gonna miss your mama when we’re all up in heaven.”
Also, I know a lot of people who use Hellmann’s. And believe me, I’m not here to pass judgement on anyone simply because their tastebuds are smoking crack.
My mother-in-law, for instance, uses Hellmann’s for her deviled eggs. I once asked why she did this. She said, “Anything that’s been deviled needs a little Hell in it, too.” Then she laughed and licked a white glob of automotive lubricant from her finger.
After I received Phillip’s message, I decided to make a sincere attempt to understand the age-old mayonnaise debate by conducting an experiment.
For help I enlisted my friend, Billy, and his wife, Miranda—two noted Hellmann’s abusers. Billy and Miranda also invited their son, Lee, to participate. Lee is seven years old and spent most of the experiment being bored senseless and digging in his drawers. Also my wife joined us.
We all did a blind taste test in Billy’s dining room. His mother prepared several mayonnaise intensive recipes using most of the top brands. She placed food samples on a table. The five of us got busy.
First we ate the deviled eggs. We sampled each one then wrote our score on slips of paper.
Then came pear salad.
I’ll pause here. I realize that they might not have pear salad in Sacramento. So I will describe it. It is a canned half pear with six cups of mayo dolloped in the center, topped with cheese, and covered in the Joy of the Lord.
After that, came potato salad. Which is a litmus test for mayonnaise.
When we finished our experiment, we folded our paper slips and placed them into a hat. It took two seconds to tally votes. And do you know what we found? Drumroll please. Every single person in the room unknowingly voted for…
A close second was Blue Plate. Which surprised me—I did not come from a Blue Plate family, we didn’t have that kind of cash laying around.
Third place went to a jar of Vaseline.
Fourteenth place went to Hellmann’s.
Kraft got one vote. And I don’t want to point fingers, but whoever voted spelled it wrong, which makes me think it might have been a seven-year-old who is a notorious Elmer’s Glue eater.
Nobody in our group even touched the deviled eggs made with Miracle Whip because they had already burned a hole through the table and were glowing neon green.
So I hope this clears things up for Phillip in Sacramento. More importantly, I hope that anyone out there who disagrees with the results of our experiment remembers that just because we disagree, doesn’t mean that you aren’t completely insane.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go lubricate the axle on my truck.