So here’s the deal: “Mayonnaise” is very specifically an egg-containing entity. “Mayo,” on the other hand, signifies a mayonnaise-like substance, which may or may not contain eggs. Got it?
That was the argument that the makers of egg-free, vegan-approved mayo (note the usage) maker Hampton Creek heard when it consulted with lawyers about calling its product Just Mayo. Hellmann’s/Best Foods owner Unilever disagreed with that assessment and sued.
Now harmony has been restored to the universe: Unilever has dropped the lawsuit. In a press release, Mike Faherty, vice president for foods for Unilever North America, sounded like he was appalled to find out about the lawsuit — or at least the blow-back. He said:
We applaud Hampton Creek’s commitment to innovation and its inspired corporate purpose. We share a vision with Hampton Creek of a more sustainable world. It is for these reasons that we believe Hampton Creek will take the appropriate steps in labelling its products going forward.
But wait. It may not be totally over. Faherty also said: “Unilever has decided to withdraw its lawsuit against Hampton Creek so that Hampton Creek can address its label directly with industry groups and appropriate regulatory authorities.” That sounds like another way of saying, We’re not going to play bad cop on this anymore, but we still think that regulators might have some questions for Hampton Creek.
I don’t know. Mayo, mayonnaise — seems pretty clear to me. Mmm, clear mayo! Now that would be a delicious innovation. We could call it crystal mayo. Taste the transparency! I’ll be waiting by the phone, venture capitalists.