By: Dan Gibbs
Duke’s Mayonnaise has been a southern staple for over a century and it got its start in Greenville, South Carolina. When the United States became involved in World War I, a training camp named Camp Sevier was set up in Greenville around 1917 to train soldiers going off to war in Europe. Camp Sevier was located near what is now Wade Hampton Boulevard.
Local resident Eugenia Duke started making sandwiches in her kitchen made with her own recipe of mayonnaise to sell to the soldiers at the canteen. The sandwiches cost about 10 cents to make and she made 2 cents profit on each sandwich. The sandwiches became so popular with the soldiers, she had made about 11,000 of them within about a year. She was able to buy her own delivery truck and her business took off after the end of World War I. She received so many letters from soldiers after they left Camp Sevier requesting her recipe for the spread.
Her mayonnaise was so popular she gave up making the sandwiches in 1923 and started bottling the sandwich spread to sell. Duke’s Mayonnaise was born. By 1929 the business had gotten too big for her to handle alone and she decided to sell the business to C.F. Sauer company but she stayed on as their top salesperson.
She continued on with C.F. Sauer until 1950 when her and her husband relocated to California to be closer to their grandchildren. Soon after she started another sandwich company she called the Duchess Sandwich Company to sell to local deli’s and restaurants. Sandwiches were in her blood. Eugenia Duke died in 1968 at the age of 90 but her mayonnaise legacy lives on.
Duke’s Mayonnaise can be found on any condiment aisle at just about every grocery store and major retailer in the United States and can now be found in overseas markets.