An Editorial Condimentary

For the past few years, Taco Bell hot sauce packets have been covered with witty, conversational phrases; ‘Dibs on the taco’ “I see how you look at other sauces’ ‘Saying goodbye is the hardest part of this job’ and ‘Has catsup been talking smack about me?’ are among the current crop.

Aside from the archaic ‘catsup’ spelling, I have found these hot sauce packets to be moderately amusing, and good conversation starters – something needed when at Taco Bell.

While traveling in Minnesota over Christmas, we had dinner one night at Famous Dave’s Barbeque, a favorite road trip stop,and I picked up a few of their large sauce packets to go with our leftover ribs. Only when I got back to our hotel room did I discover that they, too, were ‘speaking’ to me.

The Dave’s basic Rich and Sassy sauce packets I got say ‘Best when eaten, not worn’ and ‘Whole hand lickin’ good’ while the packets of (the really hot) Devil’s Spit variety state ‘Ketchup’s evil twin’ and ‘Smoke. Ears. You get the picture’ and, my personal favorite, ‘Dave didn’t make a deal with the Devil, just a licensing agreement.’

I don’t mind witticism’s (I, in fact, enjoy them) coming from my condiments, but I am concerned that mayonnaise and mustard have, to date, been silent.

Why is that?

Sixteen year old son Will thinks he knows: “It’s a campaign by ‘The Man’(a.k.a. Ronald McDonald) to keep mayonnaise and mustard down. Maybe it’s time for an ‘Occupy McDonald’s’ movement.”

As he uses neither mayonnaise nor mustard, I’ll chalk that one up to youthful but well placed radical thought.

While I don’t think it is a vast conspiracy against non-reddish food accoutrements, I’d also hate to think it is some sort of condimental inferiority complex going on here; that would be wholly unjustified. Maybe mayonnaise and mustard could join forces to state their case to the general public. They work so well together in certain instances (think corned beef sandwich on pumpernickel, ham and Swiss on caraway rye, pastrami on a Kaiser Roll, etc.) it’s hard to believe they couldn’t state their case for condimental equality convincingly, or form some sort of comedy team.

Somebody needs to take up the cause of the voiceless.

We have a couple of small plastic tubs in our pantry filled with a wide array of condiments in packet form picked up from various locales; they’re great to toss in with school and work lunches or into picnic baskets. Of all the plastic and foil pouches of honey, ketchup, crushed red peppers, hot sauce, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salad dressing and wet wipes hanging out in there, none of them try to be funny – they just go about their business. Effective, pedestrian, dull.

(For the record, the soy sauce and duck sauce in our condiment tubs have extraneous stuff written in Chinese, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t trying to be funny. Conversely, the folks at K.F.C. have some rather pretentious honey on their hands; ‘Honey Sauce’? Seriously?)

But mustard and mayonnaise have something special going on, and they deserve to be heard.

My experience with both tells me their conversational tone would be interesting. There is diversity in the mustard community; regular yellow mustard, brown mustard, spicy brown mustard, coarse ground mustard, even Cajun mustard – all would be delightful to hear from.

While there is less variety in the mayonnaise family, this is still a full-bodied condiment with a story to tell. (One might even grudgingly allow Miracle Whip to have a say here, though I personally consider Miracle Whip more  bathroom caulk than mayonnaise.)

Maybe mustard and mayo (M&M) could go a different route than the taco and barbecue sauces; perhaps something along the lines of Nietzsche quotations or song lyric lines form the 60’s – something hip, but staying away from any ‘fortune cookie’ like clichés. Just a thought.

I just think that mustard and mayonnaise need more respect, and anything they can do to get it for themselves I’ll get behind.

Keep this all in mind the next time you are at the condiment island of a fast food place, mall food court or a cafeteria – or while strolling the hallways of a hotel looking at used room service trays set outside of rooms for pickup (that’s usually where you get the big packets of unopened good stuff like salad dressings/vinaigrettes and cocktail sauce. Shelf stable sour cream, exotic jellies, salt-and-pepper shakers and half-and-half are a whole different post) and ask yourself, ‘what condiment really speaks to me, and what exactly, is it saying?’

This oversight needs to be corrected; mustard and mayonnaise deserve their due, need to be heard.

Please spread the word.

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