Why Hellmann's Mayo Is Also Called Best Foods

If you've ever spent a good amount of time on both the west and east coasts of the United States (like, long enough to have to go grocery shopping at some point), you may have paused in your tracks in the condiment aisle, thinking your eyes were playing tricks on you when you reached for the mayonnaise. You recognize that label, but shouldn't it be called something else? 

The popular brand many know as Hellmann's is depicted with a white, blue, and yellow label. There is a cheery little blue ribbon under copy that reads, "Est. 1913" and over the words "Real Mayonnaise." But, another mayo brand called Best Foods has the exact same label, save for the name. Even the icon of two brown eggs emblazon each brand.

As it turns out, Hellmann's and Best Foods are the exact same mayonnaise, they just go by different names — and it has everything to do with geography. From the Rocky Mountains on west, Best Foods is sold, while anyone living east of the mountain range will find Hellmann's on their store shelves. 

As the story goes, Richard Hellmann created a popular mayonnaise at his New York City deli in the 1920s, calling it Blue Ribbon. In 1927, Postum Foods, which would later become Best Foods, purchased the Hellmann's brand and its mayo. While Postum already had its own condiment, the Hellmann's brand was so popular in its current market that the company decided to keep and sell the product under both names. The two brands even have separate websites that are also identical to each other (again, save for the name).

The same but different mayos

According to the Hellmann's and Best Foods websites, as well as the nutrition labels on both jars, the ingredients used to make the mayos are exactly the same. They share a tagline, too ("Bring out the best"). Yet, each label of Hellmann's states, "Known as Best Foods west of the Rockies," while Best Foods jars state the opposite. 

So, by all accounts, the two condiments should taste exactly the same but many have stated otherwise. According to a side-by-side taste test done by Sporked, Best Foods tasted noticeably tangier, which the tester believed was due to more lemon juice. In addition, the author believed Hellmann's to have a more custard-like texture.

Unilever, which now owns both brands of mayonnaise, has been notoriously hush-hush about disclosing if there are, indeed, any variances between the amounts of the ingredients in Hellmann's and Best Foods recipes. Still, the two make for America's number-one selling mayonnaise, beating out the celeb-favorite, Duke's.

Two names for the same food products

Using two different brand names for the same product isn't necessarily an anomaly in the food world. There are many American products that are known as something else in other countries, like Lay's potato chip brand, which is called Walker's in the United Kingdom. But, like Hellmann's and Best Foods, some products are named differently in America, depending on which coast you happen to live. 

For example, Dreyer's ice cream that is found in the western states is called Edy's ice cream in the east. When the Dreyer's brand expanded to the east in 1977, the owners wanted to differentiate it from the eastern ice cream brand called Breyer's so they adopted the Edy's name. The packaging and flavors remain the same in each part of the country except for the name itself. 

The same flavors of Girl Scout cookies can also be found under different names in different parts of the U.S. For example, Tagalongs and Peanut Butter Patties are the same cookie, they are just made by two different baking companies.

Some may be thrown off by the change of a brand name they've become familiar with and it's up to the company to prove to the consumer that the product is still to be trusted. Hellmann's and Best Foods appear to have gotten things right, even if one maybe uses a touch more lemon juice.