Wednesday, November 12, 2014

1408 Mayo is a Four Letter Word

Leave it to giant Unilever.   The Goliath- size food conglomerate is on the attack.  The David in this story is a company in San Francisco called Hampton Creek, which makes a vegan spread called “Just Mayo.”

Vegan means no animal anything.   Lever says ahah! False advertising!  Regulations say Mayonnaise must contain egg yolks.  Egg yolks are made by CHICKENS!

Hampton Creek founder Josh Tetrick says that’s why they don’t call their stuff mayonnaise, just “Just Mayo.”  Everyone knows what that means.  In fact, one major manufacturer, Kraft, calls its actual egg-containing mayonnaise “mayo” on the label.

Probably, Tetrick will be forced to call his sandwich spread something else.  And that is hitting him the wrong way.   

Butter substitutes aren’t allowed to call themselves butter.  So they’re called “buttery” or prominently display “Tastes like butter, half the calories” on their labels.

Artificially flavored chocolate calls its taste chocolatey.  

Mayonnaise -- the word -- is harder to fiddle with. Mayonnaisely?  Awkward.  Hard on the ears. Hard on the tongue. Too many letters for a label.

So what’s in “Just Mayo?”  Canola oil, water, lemon, a little vinegar, pea protein, beta carotene and dribs and drabs of other natural stuff. Plus there’s a version available with preservatives for those in search of the longer life it’s known to bring.  (Preservatives may preserve you as well as it preserves Wonder Bread.)

Backer Bill Gates and founder Tetrick probably would like you to scurry off to whole foods in hopes that you will pay sticker price.  But Wal-mart and Target carry it too, maybe for less… maybe not.

Unilever makes Hellmann’s.  Good stuff.  There are other big brands, too.  Do they really feel threatened by some little David?

The “get the other guy” brand of competition brings out the worst in us.  Competition is fine when you’re competing to be better or for the affection or loyalty of your customers -- or someone else’s.  But that’s not what we have here.   And in the real world, a bet on Goliath usually pays off.

Not always.  Early on, no one really expected Fox Television to become a big player.  Everyone expected Sony to win the videotape format wars.  At one point, Apple begged a loan from Microsoft, then much larger, just to stay in business.

But usually, bet on Goliath.

Tide outsells Wisk laundry detergent by the millions.  Procter and Gamble would unlikely be heartbroken if Sun Products went belly up.  But by all accounts, there’s no active effort underway.

Bloomberg would likely be happier if Reuters vanished from the face of the earth, but it’s not accusing it of false advertising.

And Microsoft probably regrets saving Apple, but isn’t taking the issue to court.

So let’s hear it for “Just Mayo.”  Even if they’re forced to call the stuff “the un-mayonnaise” or “tart white spread for your sandwich.”

Meantime, hold the mayo.

Shrapnel:

--Tip to mayor de Blastoff:  cut down those Fidel Castro- length speeches, Bill.  We were all happy to see Dr. Craig Spencer freed from Bellevue after serving 21 days as a suspected Ebola patient. But we didn’t need an hour long presentation about how great we all are, and he is and you are... plus they preempted “Maury” to carry your endless ramble.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014

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