Why Duke’s Mayonnaise Matters

In many of the most popular restaurants below the Mason-Dixon line today, diners can practically trace the sprigs of parsley garnishing their plates to the wholesome hands of local farmers. So it’s surprising when the same chefs who preach about heirloom seeds and heritage animals embrace a factory-made food. But one variety of mayonnaise still arrives at upscale kitchens from Texas to Tennessee in decidedly non-artisan plastic tubs.

Duke’s mayonnaise has been a staple below the Mason-Dixon line for ninety-eight years, and some combination of nostalgia and genuine appreciation keeps it in refrigerators all over its native range. With tomato sandwich season in full swing, we asked a handful of experienced culinarians why it deserves such a hallowed place in the regional pantry.

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Photo by: Johnny Autry