When Southerners say “Give me Duke’s or give me death” what they mean is “Bless your heart for using Hellmann’s.” The smear of the South inspires a passion that speaks to something more than just mayo.
The brand is mentioned by name on menus like a prized pork breed. It hangs in neon on the walls of restaurants. Some fans have the iconic yellow-lidded Duke’s Mayo jar tattooed on their bodies. In the last few years, Duke’s Mayo has gone from simply the jar your mother and grandmother insisted on to something wholly and passionately embraced by chef and foodie culture.
“We love Duke’s mayo,” said chef Jake Wood, owner of Lawrence Barbecue and Leroy’s Tacos. “We won’t use anything else. (It’s on the menu) because we want people to know what we’re using. But also we’re playing into the popularity — there’s a sense that using anything but Duke’s is sacrilege.”
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