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Hellmann's and Best Foods Mayonnaise -- overview and history
By JOE O'CONNELL, cbbqa Past President
The two most popular brands of mayonnaise in the United States are Hellmann's Mayonnaise and Best Foods Mayonnaise. From time to time, a barbecue cook will ask where Hellmann's can be purchased in California or where Best Foods can be purchased on the east coast.
East and West
Hellmann's Mayonnaise and Best Foods Mayonnaise are made by the same company, Unilever Beast Foods. The Hellmann's brand is sold in the East while Best Foods brand in sold in the West. The Hellmann's Web site says:
As the worldwide barbecue community continues to grow, cooks share their recipes. Many recipes call for a specific product or brand, such as Hellmann's or Best Foods.
Cooks should know that both brands are produced by the same company but that they are not the same product (i.e. they are made with different ingredients).
Hellmann's and Best Foods are not identical in taste. Hellmann's is slightly sweeter and Best Foods is more tangy.
The company's FAQ says:
This means that Hellmann's may contain a little more sugar and a little less lemon juice than Best Foods, although both contain the same ingredients and in the same relative quantities. The Hellmann's Mayonnaise ingredients label shows that it contains the following ingredients, which are listed in the quantity order in which they occur:
The Best Foods Mayonnaise ingredients label shows that it contains the following ingredients, which are listed in the quantity order in which they occur:
Therefore, although the two brands have the same ingredients in the same relative order, they are not exactly the same and taste slightly different.
Invention of mayonnaise
At the start of the Seven Years War (1756-1763), the French attacked the English-held Fort St. Philip, at Port Mahon, which was the capital of the island of Minorca. The attack was a joint operation by the French army, which was under the command of Duke Richelieu (duc de Richelieu), and the infantry regiment de la March, which was under the command of Colonel Rochambeau (later comte de Rochambeau).
Rochambeau flawlessly directed the siege artillery, which was vital to the capture of Fort St. Philip. Following the victory, Rochambeau was appointed brigadier general and received the Chevalier de St. Louis in 1756. In celebration, Richelieu held a banquet to honor Rochambeau and the victory.
The banquet included a new sauce, which was invented by Richelieu's chef. Some say that the chef intended to make a standard sauce of cream and eggs, but that he could find no cream. Others say that the chef planned from the beginning to invent a new sauce. Whatever the reason, the chef made a new sauce with olive oil and eggs, rather than cream and eggs, and a new sauce was born.
In honor of the victory at Port Mahon, the sauce was called Mahonnaise. Only later was the spelling changed to mayonnaise.
The two brands are owned by the same company but they have different histories.
In 1905, Richard Hellmann, a German immigrant, opened a delicatessen in New York City. The shop sold salads, which included his wife's mayonnaise. The mayonnaise itself became popular, so Hellmann began to sell it separately.
In California, a company called Best Foods, Inc. introduced its mayonnaise, which became very successful throughout the West.
In 1932, Best Foods, Inc. merged with Richard Hellmann, Inc. From then to the present day, Hellmann's Mayonnaise has been sold east of the Rockies, and Best Foods Mayonnaise has been sold in the West.
From the Best Foods web site:
What is real mayonnaise?