Scandal, history, Duke’s Mayonnaise, and pimento cheese? This story is a veritable Southern smorgasbord.
Duke Foods, which was founded by the legendary creator of Duke’s Mayonnaise, Eugenia Duke, alleges that a former sales executive stole its recipes and is using them to help a competitor.
According to The Post and Courier, the Greenville, North Carolina based maker of pimento cheese, chicken salad, and other sandwich spreads has asked a federal judge to order the return of the priceless documents. In a lawsuit filed this week, 100-year-old Duke Foods accuses former executive Wyatt Howard of sending recipe and pricing information to his personal email when he was fired on May 31. The company requested a restraining order to keep Howard from using the stolen paperwork to aid a competitor by convincing grocery stores throughout the Southeast to switch brands.
Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) the recipe for Eugenia Duke’s iconic mayonnaise remains safe. That side of the business was sold to C. F. Sauer Co. in 1929. Duke Foods, which owns the sandwich spreads Duke created in her kitchen back in 1917, is its own entity.
As The Post and Courier reports, Duke “tired” of the food business in 1929 and sold her secret mayonnaise recipe to Sauer and the sandwich recipes to her bookkeeper. The sandwich spreads are controlled by the bookkeeper’s family to this day.