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Nov 9, 2002 05:27 PM

Hellmann's/Best Foods: why use different names?

  • r

Once and for all, does anyone know WHY this mayo is called two different names depending on whether you're east or west of the Rockies? Is Hellmann's name trademarked by someone else in the west? Is it one of those quirks that have no reason which we all simply have to accept on faith, like God?

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  1. Sorry but it's no great mystery. Hellman's was an east coast company selling mayo. Best Foods was a west coast operation selling the same thing. In the 30's Best Foods bought Hellman's but to capitalize on Hellman's market share they never changed the name. Wish the truth was a bit more exciting...

    6 Replies
    1. re: Phil R Upp

      From a marketing perspective (cost-benefit), seems a little silly to continue selling them under two different names.

      (Then again, maybe their research shows differently)

      1. re: Scooter Pie
        Caitlin McGrath

        But from a marketing perspective, each brand name has decades of history and consumer recognition and tradition on its respective coast. Many people on each coast, I've found, aren't aware of the "other" brand's existence or their relationship.

        What I'd like to know is why sticks of butter (and margarine) are long and thin in the east and shorter and fatter in the west. (It's true that since some brands, like Land O' Lakes, have gone national, you find the long sticks in the west sometimes.) And what shape are they in the areas in between (I've only visited the middle states, so never bought butter except on the coasts)?

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          The Mississippi river seems to be the dividing point.

          1. re: wally

            According to their jar logo it was "East of the Rockies" for Hellmann's.

          2. re: Caitlin McGrath

            I researched and wrote about both of these questions. Re: Mayo. CPC International had a history of burying its corporate identity and accenting its brands. When Unilever bought the company, it decided not to rock the boat.

            Re: butter and margarine. The story is similar to the mayo. Here's a part of what I wrote:

            "Until recent itmes, dairies were local or regional in their distribution. For reasons that nobody we contacted could explain, what the industry refers to as the "western-style stick," developed out of local custom. When the behemoth dairy companies attained national distribution, they soon found that it was easier to reconfigure their molds than it was to change consumers' preferences."
            "So large companies like Breakstone and Land O'Lakes make two different packages, one for the West and the other for the rest of the country. In many cases, the western sticks are packaged four in a row, while the eastern counterparts are placed two by two. This also, of course, makes no particular sense."

          3. re: Scooter Pie

            They even used the same tune with different lyrics in their advertising jingle:

            "Bring out the Best Foods, and bring out the best!" became "Bring out the Hellman's and bring out the best!"

            The late, great A. J. Liebling once commented on a famous newspaper merger that they merged "like a cat merges with a canary." I guess the jingle gives a clue as to who was the cat and who was the canary in the Great Mayonnaise Merger.

        2. s
          Stanley Stephan

          But you do know the recipe is different for each , right?

          I grew up on the East Coast, and kept saying they were not the same.

          If you dig down far enough on their web site, you'll find that yes indeed the recipes for Hellman's and Best Foods are not exactly the same.

          I'm a Hellman's fan. It has more of a Miracle Whip tang.

          1. OK, Let me settle this once and for all...

            "Hellman's is Democratic on the West Coast, Fascist on the East Coast"

            1. well who ever said they are different sorry to tell you they are not. My husband works for the company that packages both and they are the same but the label on which they put on before shipping out.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Karen2869

                That could be now, there's a thread running on how Hellmann's was "ruined" recently: