You are here: Home > Recipes > MayonnaiseGo Back

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:

WHERE-TO-BUY

[Question:]  Is Hellmann's available in the West?

[Answer:]  West of the Rocky Mountains our products are sold under the Best Foods brand name. 

Recipes

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).

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:

[Question:]  What is the difference between Hellmann's and Best Foods?

[Answer:]  The products are basically the same.  Both trademarks evolved simultaneously -- Hellmann's in the East and Best Foods in the West.  Taste preferences vary;  some people find that Best Foods mayonnaise is slightly more tangy. 

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:

Soybean oil, whole eggs, vinegar, water, egg yolks, salt, sugar, lemon juice, natural flavors, calcium disodium EDTA (used to protect quality).

The Best Foods Mayonnaise ingredients label shows that it contains the following ingredients, which are listed in the quantity order in which they occur:

Soybean oil, whole eggs, vinegar, water, egg yolks, salt, sugar, lemon juice, natural flavors, calcium disodium EDTA (used to protect quality). 

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.

Company history

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?
Mayonnaise, as defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Standard of Identity, must contain at least 65% oil by weight, vinegar, and egg or egg yolks. It may contain spices and natural seasonings except turmeric and saffron, whose yellow color might suggest added egg yolk. Preservatives such as calcium disodium EDTA are acceptable and approved for use in mayonnaise.

Why isn't there a Best Foods® fat-free mayonnaise?
Initial product formulas have not met the high standards of taste, texture, and performance set by the company and consumers.

What type of vinegar is used in Best Foods® Mayonnaise? Is it gluten-free?
The vinegar used in Best Foods® Mayonnaise is distilled vinegar made from distilled alcohol and is gluten-free.

Are the Best Foods® Mayonnaise jars vacuum sealed?
No, the Best Foods® Mayonnaise jars are not vacuum sealed.

What is the difference between Hellmann's® and Best Foods® Mayonnaise?
The products are basically the same. Both trademarks evolved simultaneously - Hellmann's® in the East and Best Foods® in the West. Taste preferences vary; some people find that Best Foods® Mayonnaise is slightly more tangy.


Related information

 

Contents

Prime Rib Myth
Copyright law
Hellmann's and Best Foods
Food Shipments
Food Safety
Blind Testing
Bouillon Etc.
For Caterers
Cooking with Gas
Gas and Taste
Association's Mailing List
American Measurements
Molasses
Not So Low and Slow
Onions Without Tears
Salt Brining
Salt Facts
Salt Myths
Tender Quick
Tanith Tyrr on Kobe/Wagyu
What's Happening
Worchestershire Sauce
Internet Relay Chat
Fun Stuff


Send us your comments and questions