Where Would the South Be Without Duke’s Mayonnaise?

What would a potato salad be without a creamy binder? What about a BLT? Deviled eggs? French fries? The list goes on. Suffice it to say, a large portion of your everyday recipes just wouldn’t be the same without mayonnaise. And one particular mayonnaise reigns supreme, especially in the South. That Southern brand is Duke’s. With its incredibly creamy base and pleasantly tangy overtones, Duke’s mayonnaise is everything you ever wanted from an extra creamy, joyously spread that puts Hellmann’s to shame.

Duke’s got its start in Greenville, South Carolina in 1917. Back then, Mrs. Eugenia Duke began selling sandwiches smothered in her homemade mayonnaise for a dime a piece to soldiers stationed at Fort Sevier. The real mayonnaise, made the old-fashioned way with egg yolks and lots of love, was something she always whipped at home. Needless to say, it didn’t take her long to figure out that the mayo was the real star of the show, and Mrs. Duke began bottling the spread for distribution. Chicken salad, pimento cheese, coleslaw, egg salad and Southern chocolate cake would never be the same.

Then, in 1929, the recipe was purchased by the Sauer family of Richmond, Virginia and distribution increased through C.F. Sauer company, marketing Duke’s mayonnaise as a staple in the southeast United States, rightly so. It has been the favored choice of the Southern states since it was introduced in those signature glass jars that are, much to everyone’s dismay, were discontinued in 2005. 

These days, mayonnaise comes in a multitude of textures and flavors ranging from sunflower oil mayo to Sriracha mayonnaise, yet none of them seem to be able to replicate the tangy, creamy, slightly sweet combination that makes Duke’s good on practically everything.

Of course, Duke’s mayonnaise has its cult following, but like anything, not everyone loves this condiment, though Duke’s fans will wax poetic about the unique flavors all day. As a regional product, this spread isn’t known nationwide –  even though it’s the third-largest mayo brand in the United States, behind Hellman’s and Kraft, and is growing. So for some who didn’t grow up with Duke’s, the flavors can be unexpected.

“Keep the mayonnaise safe, son.”

A post shared by Duke’s Mayonnaise (@dukes_mayonnaise) on

For most, however, this mayonnaise is the stuff of dreams. According to anecdotal evidence from the Washington Post:

There was the man on his hospital death bed who asked for a tomato sandwich made with Duke’s. There was the mother of the bride who, after the company made its switch from glass to plastic containers around 2005, demanded four glass jars with labels intact to use as centerpieces at her daughter’s wedding.

And there was the elderly woman from North Carolina. She wrote in hopes of obtaining just three glass jars, saying she’d like to be cremated and have her ashes placed in the containers for her three daughters.

What better recommendation could you give something?

Watch: The Texan’s Rules for the Family Table