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Mason-Dixon line of Mayo

I was raised in Northern NJ, lived in Baltimore, and now reside in Coastal South Carolina. I went to a NY style deli the other day and ordered an Italian sub. Now, I should have known better but I didn't even think to ask if the sub came with mayo. Sure enough after 1 bite, I came away with a mouthful of mayo. (It's an Italian sub - it should not be hot and should not have mayo but that is another post.) I was thoroughly disgusted that my lunch had been ruined.
What did happen was that I started thinking about where this magical line lies that divides the land where mayo is a sometimes condiment and the land where it becomes not only a prerequisite but a main ingredient. Everything on this certain Deli's menu had mayo, even the egg sandwiches. I'd say that the line lies somewhere in southern Maryland. I guess that makes Maryland a mayo border state. Is it the further South that you go the more prevalent mayo usage becomes? So if I go to Miami will I just get a mayo on rye? How about travelling west? Anyway, thought that you chowhounds might have some input

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  1. South of the Mason Dixon line, anything's taste is generally improved by slathering on DUKE'S mayo. See also some threads along this line

    7 Replies
    1. re: steakman55

      I'm familiar with Duke's mayo and am a fan. I'm not saying that it doesn't have its place, but there is a mysterious point where it's just a given that things come slathered in the stuff and not things like tuna salad, we're talking egg sanwiches and bagels.

      1. re: ReggieL.

        being from the far far far west, im not at all clear what you mean by "egg sandwiches" certainly egg salad sandwiches have mayo (don't they?)...ummm... what other kind of egg sandwiches are there? Or am i a total bumpkin?

        Oh yeah, people in Hawaii LOVE mayo. Roast their thanksgiving turkeys slathered in it, mix it into chili (yes, really, they do.) And there is a strong preference for mayonnaise, not those 'other' dressings (well, we are SURROUNDED by salt water after all.)

        1. re: KaimukiMan

          I think we're talking fried egg sandwiches. White bread, toasted. Mayo. Perfectly fried egg. Salt & pepper.

          1. re: evewitch

            yeah. sorry. fried or scrambled egg on any kind of bread. often served with some kind of breakfast meat and cheese also on the same pieces of bread.

            1. re: evewitch

              Heaven. My dad used to make those for my brother and I as midnight snacks on Friday and Saturday nights. Just an extra shiv to the heart every weekend.

              1. re: evewitch

                hehe of course. so obvious, but not being fond of fried eggs..... so mayo would be a bad thing huh?

                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  The whole thing was that the mayo would get warm, the white bread sticks to your mouth, salt and pepper...amazing. The egg was just bonus.

        2. No, in Maine on a sub, ya get 30 weight motor oil, wrapped in tar paper and left on the dash board to cure and call it an Eye-talian. Wicked good! (Gag.)

          2 Replies
          1. re: Passadumkeg

            So is there another line where the further North you go, the olive oil turns into vegetable oil and then motor oil?

            1. re: ReggieL.

              Jeesum crow, bub, you betcha. Now mayo comes on a lobstah roll. Not buttah like them southerners in Connecticut! They eat red chowdah too. Imagine!

          2. I'm not exactly sure where the line is, but it must be pretty close to where you have to start asking if the place has Unsweetened Iced Tea.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cavandre

              I'd say the MD/Va state line is about right for both mayo and sweet tea. As an Alabama native who long lived on Maryland's eastern shore, only twenty miles from state line, and now lives in Richmond, VA, I can verify a much higher usage of both here in Richmond than in southern Maryland.

            2. I'd like to add a side vent -

              How in the world did Mayonnaise start getting confused with sugary gloppy MIracle Whip, and other assorted sugar laden "Salad Dressings" in restaurants these days?

              Mayonnaise is NOT SWEET! Don't ask me if I want mayo, and glop some sugary garbage on my sammich. It is wrong and unnatural!

              3 Replies
              1. re: gordeaux

                Specify what it is - mayo or "salad dressing" and then how much of it will be on my sandwich. Let me decide if I want to supersize my serving of mayo. It's a condiment not a main ingredient! I seriously got 4 or 5 ounces on a 6 inch sub. Anyway.

                1. re: gordeaux

                  To quote cookbook author Camille Glenn: "To put sugar in mayonnaise is an abomination!"

                  1. re: gordeaux

                    Kewpie mayonnaise is a bit sweet.

                  2. I roomed with a couple from SC a few years back, and I'm still repulsed by the fact that they ate mayo on their french fries. Apparently a lot of people in SC do.
                    Don't forget that there's also that east-west line - I think everyone west of it puts ranch dressing on everything. That line, I believe, lies between Louisiana and Texas.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: cycloneillini

                      Most of Europe and South America dip ff in mayo. Not a n/s line.

                      1. re: cycloneillini

                        LOVE mayo on fries. Did you miss that thread? We are proud and we are MANY!

                        1. re: kattyeyes

                          I don't even mind the funny looks I get from waitresses in rural Mine when I ask for mayo for my Frenchies.

                        2. re: cycloneillini

                          The latitudinal demarcation of mayo application is spurious.

                          If one doesn'tt want much mayo, simply ask for it "on the side". Even in the deepest South, they will provide you with an extra knife or spoon (maybe a wooden one like used for ice cream in the olden days) for a more prudent and perfect application of the dreaded white slather.

                          Cycloneilinni may have, in releasing an eponymous "little gust of twirling wind", incited a totaly emulsified and unified reaction from us rascals who eat mayo on our fries.

                          Remember Charlton Heston's defiant raising of the flintlock rifle at the NRA rally years back?... "From my cold dead hands..." ...

                          Thusly with my patate frites and my mayo.

                          1. re: FoodFuser

                            HA HA, right there with you, my brother!

                        3. With respect to mayo vs. Miracle Whip, there is actually a "line," i.e strong regional preferences. Specifically, the further you get from salt water, the greater the relative sales of Miracle Whip. The attached photo shows some actual sales ratio data. The more red and purple, the higher the ratio of MW sales. Note that, where it goes purple, MW is outselling mayo by at least 3.5:1.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: johnb

                            Mayonnaise cartography? You rock.

                            1. re: Scriever

                              mayo cartogrphy was the ultimate purpose of this thread.

                            2. re: johnb

                              Wow... I live smack in the middle of a red zone! Thank God my house is next to a big lake.... keeps me on Mayo.

                              Neat graph. Any comparable data for grams consumption per capita of Mayo and/or MW?

                              1. re: johnb

                                In the book "The Southern Belle Primer (or Why Princess Margaret Will Never Be a Kappa Kappa Gamma)" the author told the story about a woman who had moved to the south when she was very young. She was discussing mayo with a group of friends, all true southerners, and said that she preferred Miracle Whip to Mayo. One of the southern woman said something like "Hon, you're from the Midwest, and it shows."

                                In the book, the author claimed that true southern women made their own mayo, but if that was not available, Hellman's was the substitute.
                                (I had this book on audio cassette years ago with Dixie Carter narrating it. It is a hoot.)

                              2. Maryland and Northern Virginia is the North/South mayo transition region, as far as I'm concerned. In Southern Maryland, where I grew up, it's very prevalent. While technically Dixie, it isn't true enough south for availability of DUKE'S - we bring out the Hellman's. My grandmother even uses it in a dessert we call the green stuff: lime Jell-O, pineapple chunks, cottage cheese, mayonnaise for opacity and creaminess. Sometimes walnuts are tossed in. I think it's quite good. But most of my MD friends and family still recoil.

                                When I moved further north in the state, mayo seemed less ubiquitous, and I even met people who abhorred the stuff. Northern VA, where I live now, is kind of a mixed bag, but once you mosey into the country and toward Richmond into the true south the stuff spreads wild like kudzu. Generally, I find the use of mayo increases with the menu availability of grits.

                                By the way: Miracle Whip is not mayonnaise. It is a mortal sin.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Scriever

                                  For a different spin on the opaque factor (no offense to your grandmother), you might try sour cream rather than mayo in "the green stuff." Jell-O made with sour cream is great. Jell-O with sour cream mixed in after its gelled is mighty tasty, too.

                                  NOVA isn't Duke's country, eh? That's a shame.

                                  1. re: Scriever

                                    Hi Scriever. I'm from Southern Maryland and I remember that green stuff. I remember 2 Jell-O dishes that used mayo. One was Christmas Salad and I think the other one was called Ribbon Salad. They both used mini-marshmallows and the Christmas Salad was the one that had walnuts.

                                    I think they're pretty good too. Whenever I think of them I'm also reminded of eating quite a bit of Watergate Salad too :-)

                                  2. This is news to me, and I've lived in the South(NC/SC) for most of my life. I don't see mayonnaise as being unusually prevalent at all. If I had to pick the condiments that you see all the time in the Carolinas, it would be mustard and vinegar. There are even some things, like slaw and potato salad, that often don't have mayo in the South where they would in other parts of the country.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Naco

                                      Naco - please don't take this as snarky but maybe because you have spent most of your life here in the NC/SC region, extreme mayo usage is normalized for you. Mustard and vinegar do make up the different bbq sauces here, but I have never been given those options as sandwich condiments. I take that back, as options on a pork bbq sandwich yes. Turkey sandwich, no. Mustard and vinegar do show up again in certain salads and bbq beans, but never on sandwiches.

                                      1. re: ReggieL.

                                        So are we just talking about sandwiches? That's not something that I order out much, except for tortas, which is a whole other kettle of fish.

                                    2. The Redstone Arsenal Cafeteria, in Huntsville, AL, 3 choices of salad dressing,
                                      French, Italian and Mayo!

                                      1. It is possible. I personally can't stand the "toasting" of Italian subs, and to me, a native New Yorker who lived in New Jersey for twenty years before moving to Texas, I do not expect even my roast beef sandwich to be served "hot". Mayo is one of those condiments we didn't use much in my Italian household, the exception for tuna or egg salad. I hate mayo on nearly anything else.

                                        You know what they do here? They put cheese on everything, and pickled jalapenos are tossed on sandwiches as often as lettuce and tomato. And yes, they'll probably put mayo on it too.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: RGC1982

                                          so is mayo usage not a geographical thing but an ethnic thing? I'm also half italian and on that side of the family, mayo wasn't even used in potato salad. Jewish deli's dont use it and neither does the Brit side of my family who opt for mustard or butter.

                                          1. re: ReggieL.

                                            I wouldn't say it's ethnic. I'm from New Orleans, not Italian and my grandparents never put mayo in the potato salad. There were of German blood so it was a vinegar based potato salad.
                                            Now I will say that mayo is used a lot on sandwiches, especially the roast beef poboy and it's great on that. Since moving to Jersey, I have to ask the deli to put mayo on a sandwich if I want mayo, they just don't do it, it's not a bad thing but certain sandwiches, to me, need mayo.

                                            I don't know where this dish came from, but one Easter I had dinner at a friends house. His wife was an army brat and one of the things her mother loved was pear halves, topped with mayo and grated cheddar cheese. Looked disgusting but actually tasted good. Does anyone else recall ever seeing a dish like that?

                                            1. re: roro1831

                                              It's very common to me.....Had pear halves with (Dukes) mayo, and grated cheese for supper night before last ---- Along with everything else --- I love it!!

                                              1. re: roro1831

                                                Could go for a Ferdi Special right about now.