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Maybe Millennials Are No Good After All


I’ve long defended millennials, which doesn’t even mean anything anymore except for “anyone under 35,” from ridiculous attacks by old people for whatever they don’t like. But if millennials are killing of mayo, then I might have to change my tune:

Granted, there are other theories regarding mass generational mayonnaise rejection. Some experts say the dislike springs from the fact that mayo jiggles. You may have noticed youth’s similar circumvention of gelled salads. (My mom made a dynamite one with black cherry Jell-O, walnuts, olives, canned cherries and small balls of cream cheese.) Others posit that mayonnaise is reminiscent of bodily fluids and therefore, as Penn psychology professor Paul Rozin has suggested, too disgusting to ingest. Kendra Pierre-Louis got right down to it re mayo in Popular Science:

Its viscous quality is the sort of thickness that you’d get from fluid oozing out of a rotted carcass, as anyone who has ever poked a rotted squirrel with a stick can attest. … And the creamy appearance of mayonnaise isn’t dissimilar from what would emerge from, say, a popped zit.

This is bullshit. This attitude comes to you from young people who willingly slurp down eight kazillion kinds of yogurt, not to mention raw fish and pork belly and, yo, detergent pods, so don’t talk to me about mayonnaise. The only reason for this raging mayophobia is a generation’s gut-level renouncement of the Greatest Generation’s condiment of choice.

But here’s the thing: The all-American condiment didn’t have to be mayonnaise. It could have been ketchup or mustard. Hell, it could have been horseradish, but it wasn’t. It’s not mayo’s fault that it’s been so successful — that it glimpsed a condiment breach and jiggled right on through. As Boston chef Scott Jones told Ari LeVaux, “The magic that sets mayonnaise above Coke and Heinz is that mayo is a perfect flavor carrier.” It just makes everything better. Need proof? Do other condiments have pale imitators like Miracle Whip and Just Mayo and Vegenaise? I don’t think so!


Granted, mayo can be overused and a bad macaroni salad with way too much mayo is not a good thing. But given that aioli is just fancy (and better) mayo and is all the rage, there’s a lot more going on here. If mayo is shunned, ranch dressing is kicked even though it is the deadest horse of all. In both cases, I think the sheer whiteness of the food has connotations of bland, tasteless food of previous generations. But the combination of eggs and oil seems so unoffensive to me that I simply don’t understand the hate. Ketchup is overly sweet and completely overwhelms everything it is on. Mayo, used in a proper proportion, only accentuates flavors. I might argue for the consistency being a problem, but it’s not as if younger people are avoiding creamy.

Who knows, tastes change. And if people want to eat ketchup, the favorite condiment of fascist presidents, I guess they can. But that doesn’t mean I am not going to mock them.

Of course, now I want to have some olivennaise, whatever that was.

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