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It came from the South: Duke’s Mayonaise makes its way to the Pacific Northwest

Aug. 5, 2022 Updated Wed., Aug. 10, 2022 at 11:02 a.m.

Duke's Mayonnaise with a ham and cheese sandwich. Food styling by Mary Beth Donelan.  (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)
Duke's Mayonnaise with a ham and cheese sandwich. Food styling by Mary Beth Donelan. (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)

A cult favorite in Southern kitchens for decades, Duke’s Mayonnaise is gaining a following in the Pacific Northwest.

“We saw that Duke’s Mayonnaise had a strong following in the south and east coast areas, so we decided to carry it for our customers here in the Northwest,” Fred Meyer director of corporate affairs Jeffery Temple said. Duke’s hit the shelves in April 2021. Since then, “our customers have continued to purchase this great product, so we began adding more types and sizes in June of last year.”

It may not be anywhere near as widely used as some other commercially produced mayos. But Duke’s has a fan base so dedicated that tattoos of the brand logo are almost commonplace – check out @dukes_mayonnaise on Instagram.

Now carrying six varieties of Duke’s, including the traditional, light and “hint of lime” variety, Fred Meyer is also “looking into other Duke’s products, such as their mustard, BBQ sauce and dressings,” Temple said.

Local fan Jessica Raetzke didn’t grow up using Duke’s. Before moving to Alabama in her late teens – she now lives in Coeur d’Alene and teaches at North Idaho College – Raetzke’s concept of mayonnaise was limited to Miracle Whip and Hellman’s.

“But Duke’s … there was just something about it,” she said.

“Duke’s is about as good as it gets for a sandwich,” Durkin’s executive chef Jarrott Moonitz said. “It’s really best with fresh heirloom tomatoes on some good bread.”

Duke’s founder Eugenia Duke, of Greenville, S.C., started selling sandwiches made with her homemade mayonnaise in 1917.

“By the 1920ws, Duke’s was a fully operational, women-owned business,” Temple said.

Made with extra egg yolks, water, salt, vinegar, a special blend of spices and no added sugar, the signature “twang” of Duke’s is hard to top. Duke’s is Kosher, gluten free, sugar free, and has 0% trans fat.

In Raetzke’s experience, even for those who might otherwise avoid mayo, Duke’s is an exception.

“It’s so versatile,” Raetzke said. “You don’t think about any other mayonnaise and think about drop biscuits or tomato pie.”

During the pandemic, Raetzke started experimenting in earnest with an ever-expanding list of recipes. The most intriguing of these is, perhaps, the Duke’s Chocolate Cake.

“People just cannot imagine that there’s mayo in a cake but once they hear that, they’re like, kind of like, ‘Oh, give me a try,’ ” she said.

Wherever Raetzke is, Duke’s reminds her of home. And every time she visits her family in Alabama, she has to take two suitcases: one for clothing and toiletries, and one for her Duke’s haul.

“A lot of condiments just mask a taste that we either don’t like or isn’t exactly right,” she said. “But (Duke’s) does something for really basic ingredients – when you limit what you cook with, it elevates those things. It’s a condiment that just never stops being useful.”

For those of us interested in jumping on the Duke’s bandwagon, here are a few of Raetzke’s favorite recipes, along with some of her notes.

Chocolate Mayo Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour (do not use cake flour)

⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ¼ tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. baking powder

3 eggs

1 ⅔ cups sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup Duke’s Mayo

1 ⅓ cups water

Bring all wet ingredients to room temperature. They combine better and will create a smoother cake batter.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and lightly flour two 9-inch, round cake pans and set aside. You can also line cake pans with parchment paper and grease both sides to allow cake to release more easily.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder in medium bowl with whisk, removing all lumps and set aside.

Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in Duke’s at low speed until blended.

Alternately beat in flour mixture with water, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on wire racks. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Frost with your favorite frosting or generously sprinkle with confectioners sugar, sprinkles, chocolate chips, or berries.

(My favorite frostings are from Sally’s Baking Addiction – Chocolate Buttercream, sallysbakingaddiction.com/triple-chocolate-layer-cake/; or Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting, sallysbakingaddiction.com/chocolate-cream-cheese-frosting/.)

Tomato Pie

Piecrust of your choice (store bought is fine, but making homemade is great, too)

2 ¼ pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

1 tbsp canola oil

½ cup assorted chopped fresh herbs (whatever you have on hand – chives, parsley, basil – we usually do it with only basil)

½ cup freshly grated Gruyère cheese (or any good melty cheese with low moisture content)

½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or any good, aged dry cheese)

¼ cup Duke’s mayo

Prepare filling: Slice tomatoes ¼-inch thick. Place tomatoes into strainer set in a bowl, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. This will allow seeds and juice to come out of slices and keep pie from drowning. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare pie crust: per directions.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Press dough into a 9-inch pie plate. If needed, trim dough 1 inch larger than diameter of pie plate and fold overhanging dough under itself along rim of pie plate. Chill 30 minutes or until firm.

Blind bake pie crust. Line piecrust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. (This will keep the crust from bubbling up.) Place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 425 for 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil. Bake 5 minutes or until browned. Cool completely on baking sheet on a wire rack (about 30 minutes). Reduce oven temperature to 350.

Sauté onion and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper in hot oil in a skillet over medium heat 3 minutes or until onion is tender. (This portion is optional, as I cannot eat onions if we don’t do it)

Pat tomatoes dry with a paper towel. Layer tomatoes, onion and herbs in prepared crust, seasoning each layer with pepper (1 teaspoon total).

Stir together cheeses and Duke’s mayo then spread over pie.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until lightly browned, shielding edges with foil to prevent excessive browning.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with freshly chopped basil on top, if you like.

Pimento Cheese

1 cup freshly shredded, sharp cheddar cheese (See note)

1 cup freshly shredded, extra sharp cheddar cheese

1 (8 ounce) package of full fat, cream cheese

1 (8 ounce) jar of pimentos, juice removed

3 tbsp Duke’s mayo

Louisiana hot sauce of choice to taste (Tabasco, Crystal, or homemade all work)

Optional: Diced jalapeños, if you like a little kick

Bring all wet ingredients up to room temperature.

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Add hot sauce to taste and jalapeños, if desired.

Place mixture in airtight container and refrigerate for two hours or overnight before serving.

Serve with veggies, chips, crackers or bread for dipping. Also makes excellent grilled cheese sandwiches (see note), toppings on other sandwiches, and keeps for 5-7 days.

Note: Shred two cups (total) of sharp cheddar cheese. A mix is best, but any ratio you may have works.

Pro tip

Grilled cheeses are best with Duke’s rather than butter. Slather Duke’s on your bread before it hits the grill. You will thank me.)

Duke’s is available at Fred Meyer. For information, visit dukesmayo.com.

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