The Mayonnaise Situation

One of the kids wrote “mayo” on the white board in the kitchen so I added it to the grocery list.  But as I stood in the aisle of the store, facing a fifteen foot expanse of plastic jars with pasty white innards, I realized that my chance of bringing home the right thing was about 20 to 1.

Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip?  Regular or low fat?  Or no fat? (how do you make a creamy condiment with literally no fat?).  Brand name or generic?  (and apparently ‘generic’ is no longer generic because there are about four options for ‘no name’ versions).  And there are terms that I don’t understand, like ‘traditional’ (as opposed to what? Modern? Abstract? Impressionist?), ‘home-style’ (Are there people who make their own mayonnaise?), and ‘whipped’ (Is frothy mayonnaise a good thing?).

The mayonnaise situation is increasingly common in my world.  It seems that there are a multitude of options available for everything.  Even my ‘basic’ checking account is no longer basic.  It is one of seven checking account options, each with its own brochure and its own webpage.

It’s exhausting.  I don’t want so many options.  The other night I tried to order a martini in a restaurant and was actually handed a martini-menu!  Yep… a single drink menu was no longer adequate to contain the volume of martini options.  I tried to switch to beer, only to be handed another giant menu filled with on tap, bottled, domestic, imported, artisan and gluten-free (seriously?!?) choices.

Please just give me a martini.  And a checking account.  And a jar of regular old mayonnaise, if such a thing exists anymore.

Author: Kim Scaravelli

Kim Scaravelli is an entrepreneur, marketer, content consultant, and author of “Making Words Work”. The best way to keep in touch is to subscribe to Kim’s popular newsletter. Every second Wednesday, she shares practical writing tips, timely insights, and resources to make your work easier and your content better. To learn more about Kim, visit her website.

9 thoughts

  1. How about milk – whole, skim, 2%, 1%, non-fat? Cow, soy, almond?
    And eggs – large, medium, small? Brown, white? Regular or free-range?
    And flour – regular or cake flour? Bleached or unbleached? Whole grain or not? Brand name or store brand?

    Dammit, I just want to make a friggin cake! (But what kind? White, yellow, chocolate? With frosting or without? What kind of frosting? And what shape – round, square, rectangular?)

    Yep, way too many decisions to make.


  2. I COMPLETELY relate to this, right down to and including the white board, which is on our refrigerator (it is, effectively, a giant white refrigerator magnet on which we can write and we would be lost without it). Garry does most of the shopping and he requires me to be specific. I can’t just write “margarine” or “mayo” or “ketchup.” I have to indicate size, brand, style and often, packaging (you know, squeezy bottle vs. regular jar?) …

    I am so glad we don’t drink anymore. At least we are spared the drinks menu. Even back in our drinking days, the whole wine menu and drinks menu had gone around the bend … and the arrival of mini-breweries all over Boston in the 1990s has taken the simplicity out of that long since. Wine menus cured me of wine. Mini breweries and associated menus cured me of beer. Food menus may eventually cure me of going out to dinner!


    1. Bite your tongue woman! Nothing should stop you from eating meals you did not have to cook and don’t have to clean up after!


  3. Can’t go light on the Mayo. Must do the basic fatty version. Now some fight for their brands – Duke’s fans are quite loyal. I tend toward Kraft’s. The key test is what you put on your tomato sandwich.


    1. I can tell that you feel strongly about this condiment situation. It is good to have such passion! I am a Heinz Ketchup woman and I will loudly debate with any fool who suggests that ‘no name’ ketchup is the same substance with a different label… If we do not hold to these important condiment standards, what will surely come of the world!?!


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