February 7, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Richard Hellman

Richard Hellman sold several varieties of his wife’s mayonnaise in his little deli on Columbus Street in New York City in 1905. To simplify his wife’s life he polled several customers and discovered the “blue ribbon” formula was the most popular. And so it was that “Richard Hellmann’s Blue Ribbon Mayonnaise” became the first mayonnaise that most Americans ever tasted.

Hellman was born in Vetschau, Germany in 1876 and apprenticed in the wholesale food business as a boy. He then travelled the globe for Crosse & Blackwell, a British grocery concern. He landed in America in 1903 to work in a wholesale grocery business before opening his deli two years later.

To flavor his sandwiches and salads Hellman offered mayonnaise, a French cream sauce known since the mid-1700s. He sold ten-cent portions, ladled into wooden bowls. In 1912 he began packing his salad dressing in jars; his name emblazoned on the label beneath a bright blue ribbon. Within a year Hellman realized his small shop could not produce the amount of mayonnaise his customers demanded.

In 1915 a modern factory was up and running in Queens. By 1920 a second manufacturing facility was set up on Long Island. Hellmann merged his company with the newly formed General Foods Corporation in 1927, remaining on the board of directors of the parent company. He pursued other business interests, including banking, before his death in a Greenwich, Connecticut nursing home in 1971 at the age of 94.

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