On June 1 2021, a Facebook user shared what appeared to be a photograph of a product called “Hellman’s Chunky Mayonnaise” on a store shelf:
A caption read:
Who in Caucasia decided this was okay ?
Based on the image’s formatting, it looked like a screenshot captured from elsewhere. But we were unable to locate any other iterations of the image through reverse image search or text search.
Even non-chunky mayonnaise is a divisive condiment. Food-centric websites have endeavored to explain why people “hate mayo,” echoing a contemporaneous Huffington Post itemclaiming that mayonnaise (among other things) reminded people of bodily fluids, plural:
“Its texture is what makes it most repulsive,” [author Rachel] Herz told HuffPost. “It has the ability to wobble and does not sit inert, even though it is not animate. The inert taking on qualities of an animate object can create feelings of disgust. Its moving implies a living thing, and living things can contaminate you.”
“I suppose people are disgusted with mayo because it has the consistency of pus,” [author William Ian] Miller told HuffPost. “Some things are more likely to generate disgust than others, and bodily fluids and rot are two of those things.”
Semen, pus, fat: Mayonnaise doesn’t not resemble these substances, and that might not be what you want to be thinking of at mealtime. Some people are disgusted by bodily fluids subconsciously as a result of the fear of contamination.
Similar articles claimed that “science” had reached a consensus decreeing mayonnaise to be “disgusting,” and a BuzzFeed listicle offered up 24 reasons that mayonnaise is “the devil’s condiment.” Although mayonnaise retained a place in mainstream cuisine, that position was constantly challenged by its haters.
Google Trends data indicated “Breakout” levels of interest in “Hellman’s chunky mayonnaise” as of the morning of June 3 2021. Prior to that point the line of interest was nearly flat, but a small number of searches occurred on May 31 2021:
An image implying the existence of a chunky mayonnaise was more than likely to create a significant measure of discomfort among those who already eschew mayonnaise in its “smooth” form. Moreover, our initial search for Hellman’s chunky mayonnaise turned up an actual condiment on the brand’s UK site, Hellman’s Chunky Burger Sauce.
That page didn’t explain what the horribly-named Hellman’s Chunky Burger Sauce was, but a UK supermarket site indicated that it was similar to “Big Mac” sauce. In that context, “chunky” means “diced onion and pickle”:
With a deliciously creamy texture, this Burger sauce with a signature flavour and real chunks of onion and gherkin will give your BBQ the twist it needs. Ideal with all meats and burgers – the perfect partner for any BBQ occasion. Our Chunky Burger sauce is part of Grilltopia: our mission to get you grilling and discovering BBQ ideas on a mouth-watering journey around the world.
Due to the uptick in Hellman’s chunky mayonnaise discourse, we decided to check the brand’s official social media accounts for information about the jarring condiment.
Twitter asked — and Hellman’s answered:
Not at all us. But judging whoever needed to make this. 🤢 https://t.co/3v9jlli1mY
— Hellmann's (@Hellmanns) June 2, 2021
Hellman’s chunky mayonnaise was, per the brand, not a real product — and not one it showed any interest in bringing to supermarket shelves. The UK’s Hellman’s Chunky Burger Sauce may have served as inspiration for some digital creativity, but the claim was not true.