20 restaurants to honor Duke’s mayonnaise with a food tour in its SC hometown. Here’s what to know

Eugenia Duke manufactured her now-famous Duke’s mayonnaise in the Greenville area for a scant seven years, but her legacy lives on a century later.

The Greenville Visitors Bureau on Nov. 3 will honor Duke with a day-long, self-guided tour of 20 restaurants featuring food made with Duke’s and of places meaningful to the Duke’s brand.

To say that Eugenia Duke was a woman before her time is an understatement. She started selling sandwiches made with her homemade mayonnaise in 1917.

The egg salad, chicken salad and pimento cheese sandwiches were a hit for people as disparate as soldiers at Camp Sevier to society matrons enjoying tea and finger sandwiches at the Otteray Hotel in downtown Greenville.

The sandwiches were good, but what set them apart was her mayonnaise.

“Duke’s contains a higher ratio of egg yolks than most other commercial mayos, which makes it rich, creamy, and less likely to separate when heated,” Southern Living says, “There’s a wisp of tang from vinegar and a touch of paprika. Its texture is thicker and almost custard-like instead of simply slick or gelatinous.”

Duke set aside the sandwich making and opened a manufacturing plant in a former coach factory paint shop in downtown Greenville in 1922. She bought a car and drove all over the South selling her mayonnaise, wearing her signature pearls and big hats.

She worked faithfully to get women the right to vote.

The mayonnaise’s popularity outstripped her ability to produce it by 1929. She sold to the C.F. Sauer Co., which makes it still in a factory in Mauldin.

Duke and her husband moved to California to be closer to their daughter, who had married a soldier from Los Angeles. And within a year, she started another company, Duchess Sandwich Co.

Duke died in 1968 and is buried in Oakland, California. Her great-great grandchildren said in a video produced by Southern Living that they believed Duke had invented mayonnaise but had no real understanding of its importance and its cult following. They grew up in California.

When they came to the South they were amazed. There in a Harris Teeter was an array of the very product of Eugenia Duke.

During the Greenille tour, participants will be able to try quite an assortment of food, from Smoked Carolina Fish Dip at Jones Oyster Co. to Pork Cracklins with Pimento Cheese at Hometeam BBQ Greenville.

Nose Dive will have a Crispy Chicken Sandwich adorned with White BBQ Sauce Made with Duke’s.

Soby’s New South Cuisine will feature crab cakes while Fork & Plough will offer beef carpaccio and The Bohemian Cafe will have jalapeño pimento cheese sandwiches.

Other restaurants taking part are Bobby’s BBQ, Group Therapy and Playground, Carolina Bauernhaus Greenville, Lewis Barbecue, Social Latitude, Upcountry Provisions Bakery and Bistro, Society Sandwich Bar and Social Club, City Scape Winery, Sully’s Steamers, Papi’s Tacos, Six & Twenty Distillery, Fireforge Crafted Beer, Grill Marks, and Scoundrel.

The historical sites on the tour include the The Wyche Pavilion, which was the site of the first Duke’s factory and is now an open-air event space at the Peace Center.

Nearby is the Eugenia Duke Bridge, a wooden footbridge that crosses the Reedy River and connects the Peace Center with Art Crossing at RiverPlace.

The Ottaray Tea Room and the hotel are no more but the Hyatt Hotel is there.

Likewise, Camp Sevier closed after World War I, but tour organizers suggest a look at the historical marker at the intersection of Wade Hampton Boulevard and Artillery Road in Taylors, now a commercial corridor.