My Favorite Childhood Snack Was A Mayonnaise Sandwich And I’m Not Mad About It

Humble and satisfying, it's a sandwich only a Southerner could love.

white bread slices with mayo spread on one slice
Photo: Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

I grew up in Mississippi, home to Southerners who love big, weird sandwiches (God bless Elvis). But my favorite childhood sandwich is shocking not for what is contains, but for what it didn’t. My go-to snack as a kid was—brace yourself—a simple mayonnaise sandwich.

Before we dive deeper, I want to give a shout-out to the non-mayonnaise-eaters out there who made it this far. For many of you, the mere mention of “The White Condiment” sends you running for the hills, so the fact that you made it this far is cause for applause. I’d love for you to stick with us mayonnaise maniacs and ride this train of thought to the very end—I promise there will be enough mayonnaise ridicule and self-deprecation to make it worth your while. Just be warned, I’ll be using words like “slather,” “creamy,” and “mayonnaise” quite a bit, which I know can be triggering. Now is your chance to exit with grace; otherwise, take a deep breath, wrangle your aversion, and let’s move on.

People protesting mayonnaise

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I live in a house divided. I like mayonnaise. My husband detests it. The origin story of his revulsion involves a late-night infomercial for a stick blender. Incredibly, I found the exact one on the internet and it’s FABULOUS—the hair! The kitchen! The opening title type treatment! Anyway, for those too busy or not brave enough to watch, the host makes homemade mayonnaise by adding an egg to a jar, then literally filling the jar to the brim with oil before using the stick blender to emulsify the concoction into mayo. That night, eyes wide with horror, my future husband gave up mayonnaise forever.

Mayonnaise spread

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I, however, grew up in a home where mayonnaise was our fifth family member. (Sometimes, I probably liked it more than my little sister, to be honest.) Before you get nervous, we aren’t insane—we didn’t eat mayonnaise straight from the jar or anything, but it was used liberally, sometimes surprisingly.

As a kid, I was no stranger to a simple mayonnaise sandwich. Sunbeam bread, mayo—that’s it. No meat, no lettuce, no cheese—just mayo.

As an adult I must admit: A mayonnaise sandwich looks like its fixings got taken by the Rapture—all you get is the left-behind mayonnaise and bread. It’s a sandwich only Kirk Cameron could love.

Kirk Cameron making a weird face

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Not that I was opposed inviting other ingredients to my sandwich party—slick Kraft singles were regular performers, even the occasional sliced banana. (No pineapple for me!) But a mayonnaise sandwich was fast, and though utilitarian, inexplicably satisfying. Two soft pieces of Sunbeam, a thick slather of Blue Plate, and I could be back in the woods picking blackberries in no time.

A vintage jar of blue plate mayonnaise

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Speaking of Blue Plate, let’s take a very brief detour to chit-chat about mayonnaise brands. I won’t stray into taste-test territory here, out of respect for the May-No! Caucus—you can read all about the flavor and history of our favorite brands here—but I would like to take a moment to throw some serious shade on Miracle Whip.

We grew up with Blue Plate; I later came to love Duke’s. That being said, there’s one brand that of white condiment that I unapologetically and unbudgingly proclaim should be banished from existence: Miracle Whip. If you get a sandwich with that mess on it, it’s no miracle—it’s a curse!

A woman eating Miracle Whip

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Both of my grandmothers loved me very much; one was a great cook, the other wasn’t. You can guess which one made sandwiches with Miracle Whip.

Just thinking about it makes me shudder. Too tangy! Too slick! Too…sweet? It’s too everything except too good. Keep that carpet-bagging “mayonnaise” off my sandwich, thank you very much!

Back to my divided house. I must admit that my husband’s status as a member of The MayNo! Caucus has impacted my love of mayonnaise. It’s still my preferred condiment for sandwiches, but I no longer eat mayonnaise-only sandwiches, or spread it on saltine crackers, like my Dad continues to do despite having to inject himself with cholesterol medication twice a month (I’m like, “Really, Dad???”). For a long time, I switched to olive oil mayonnaise (Kraft makes a good one and honestly it’s OK), but when it comes to making a good sandwich or preparing recipes when flavor is really important (like pimiento cheese), I stick with the real thing.

Homemade mayonnaise

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One more thing before I hop down from this soapbox and make myself a mayonnaise sandwich: I don’t know who needs to hear it…but you’re still Southern if you don’t like mayonnaise. And to all of you Southerners who do love mayonnaise, have some grace and stop terrorizing those poor folks who can’t, or don’t, or won’t appreciate The White Condiment. Relentlessly teasing them (like my family insists on doing to my husband) only strengthens their resolve. Be devilish like me and sneak it into things when they’re not looking. And if you’re asked “What’s in this dip?” just say, “Oh…just a little bit of yogurt.”

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