What makes Hellmanns real mayonnaise real? Hellmann's owner Unilever filed a lawsuit against a California company that uses the word "Mayo" in its sandwich spread name, at left (AP photos)
What makes Hellmanns real mayonnaise real?
Lexile

You have to break some eggs to make an omelet and, according to a lawsuit from the maker of Hellmann's, the same goes for mayonnaise.

The food company Unilever is suing a California company that uses the word "Mayo" in its sandwich spread name. Unilever says that federal regulators and dictionaries define mayonnaise as a spread that contains eggs.

The suit claims false advertising by the company Hampton Creek for labeling its egg-free product "Just Mayo." Unilever says in a complaint filed in federal court that the word mayo implies that the product is mayonnaise. Just Mayo is "stealing market share from Hellmann's," according to the lawsuit.

"Consumers and cooks have an expectation that mayonnaise should both taste and perform like mayonnaise. Just Mayo does neither," the complaint states, noting that the Hampton Creek product's oils separate when heated.

Unilever holds the biggest share of the U.S. mayonnaise market, which is estimated to be worth $2 billion annually, according to market-research firm Euromonitor. That's more than twice the size of the ketchup market.

Hampton Creek told The Wall Street Journal that it doesn't mislead consumers because it advertises the absence of eggs as a benefit.

But a marketing professor hired by Unilever to survey consumers found in an online survey that more than half of thought Just Mayo was mayonnaise when they saw the label. The professor said in a document filed last week that 822 consumers participated in the research.

Just Mayo is the first product from Hampton Creek, a San Francisco-based startup that touts the backing of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Li Ka-shing, Asia's wealthiest person. Just Mayo is available at Dollar Tree, Whole Foods and Kroger stores, among other locations.

Hellmann's celebrated its 100th anniversary last year. Mayonnaise originated in France in the 1700s, when a chef seeking to make a creamy sauce combined oil and egg yolks.

Critical thinking challenge: Why does Unilever care what any company calls their sandwich spread?

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COMMENTS (18)
  • NW2000Basketball
    11/14/2014 - 08:39 a.m.

    I think they care because they want their company to have a good reputation, so their business can develop. At least that's why I would care.

  • JS2001basketball
    11/14/2014 - 08:44 a.m.

    They care about what they call their company because mayonnaise is product that is defined with eggs in it and the company they're suing had the word "may" on their advertisement with out having eggs in the product

  • TrentonT-Ver
    11/14/2014 - 09:09 a.m.

    I don't understand why Hellmann won't let the other companies do what they want, I think hellmanns is just being greedy. They have more money then they need so let the other companies do whatever.

  • KaelanB-Ver
    11/14/2014 - 09:16 a.m.

    I almost fully agree that just mayo doesn't make since because if it doesn't act correctively to being mayo than how does it make it just mayo and It sounds like they were trying to make it healthier but if ins not mayo no one will bye it because is not what they are looking for.

  • jorgeh-Koc
    11/14/2014 - 01:16 p.m.

    i believe that the myonaise company should not get suid, if it tastes good then so be it and let it be. who cares? its good enough to be thought as mayonaise.

  • GigiSylvester-Ste
    11/14/2014 - 01:27 p.m.

    I think Hellman's is being stingy and rude. Also, why would they say something doesn't contain eggs when it does. What if someone is allergic to eggs and eats it unknowingly.

  • briannab16
    11/15/2014 - 08:52 p.m.

    Wow I don't like mayonnaise but this is a really interesting article. Its really weird how they sue a company that has the word mayo in there sandwich spread name.

  • MacarenaPaz
    11/16/2014 - 08:15 a.m.

    The title of this piece of news suggests that it talks about the presence or absence of eggs in some sandwich spread and, as shallow as this might sound, behind it, there is actually a whole story of bullying from this big food behemoth, Unilever, towards small, innovative companies such as Hamptons Creek, which, in an attempt to make healthier and sustainable alternatives to too-long-time-ruling-the-market products, have spooked the big conglomerates. Clearly, the saw the great response from the consumers and the positive critique that 'just mayo' has received from the side of the experts, celebrating its taste and cost, and they felt threatened. This, plus the fact that, today, more and more people are concerned with food sustainability and all that this implies, has probably led Unilever to undermine the credibility of such business by making a big deal over a tiny detail that doesn't really make any difference.
    The way I see it, it was just a marketing strategy, a catchy name they were trying to drawn the attention of the consumers towards their product in a harmless way. Besides they state in the label the content of the sandwich spread, and should be enough to stay safe within legal terms.

  • matiasherreralopez
    11/16/2014 - 07:47 p.m.

    The food company Unilever has demanded to another food company called Hampton Creek. The reason is, because this company has created a mayonnaise without using eggs. Hellman's took this decision of sueing Hampton Creek, because Hellman's considered that it was a fake way of promoting this type of "mayo" instead of "real" mayonnaise made with eggs.
    Considering why mayonnaise is "real" mayonnaise, people in general could agree with the demand, being consistent, specially food companies in this case. On the other hand, some other people could think that Hellman's, is rejecting the idea of having another mayonnaise company as rival. It doesn't matter if the mayonnaise has or not eggs in its production, but what I think is Hellman's is just defending "its mayonnaise name". Real mayonnaise was created in France in 1700's, so it is well known that Hellman's is recognized worldwide like the real producer of mayonnaise.

  • KMartin-Sti
    11/17/2014 - 09:32 a.m.

    I think they have a reason to do what there doing. Its part of there name and there name is known for being made with eggs. Just Mayo isn't made with eggs. They have a valid reason so i would to.

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