Bicycle Touring: The Importance of Mayonnaise Packets
With Christmas quickly approaching, I thought: what better topic to discuss than mayonnaise? Many people love it, some people loath it, and as a bicycle-tourist, I can’t live without it–more specifically, I can’t live without the Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise packet. I know I am not alone, so I’ll come right out and say it: I am a mayonnaise snob. It’s true, and I won’t deny it. Home-made mayonnaise is off the table, because you often can’t beat that, but let’s be reasonable here, who’s making mayonnaise from scratch every time they need some? I’d wager, not many. This is about everyday mayonnaise. Kraft sucks, Duke’s sucks, I’ve heard Trader Joe’s is good but I’ve not tried it, I feel sickened even mentioning Miracle Whip, someone should file a lawsuit against the industrial food services, and to name names, I’m looking at you Sysco, I’m looking at you Aramark (perhaps two of the shittiest companies on the planet.)
When you’re riding a bicycle across the country you tend to eat a lot of sandwiches. At least Brie and I do. Before we even left home we knew that would be the case. There’s a number of reason’s for this, but to me the most important one is not having to pull out the camp stove, and everything that entails. So, since we knew this, early in our planning I began to collect condiment packets, and the Hellmann’s Mayonnaise packet was the most coveted of all packets. I discovered that the supermarket giant Wegmans provided them for people in their cafés, and so it went without saying that each time we went to this particular Wegman’s, the one in Pittsford, NY, I would line my pockets with these packets. Well, by the time we actually left, we had to leave some of them behind. When the trip began, I would estimate we started with about 75 mayonnaise packets, 30 mustards (Goulden’s & generic), a couple Frank’s Red Hot, a good amount of honey, and a couple of lemon juices. We ran out of mayonnaise in the first month, and only had one real chance to re-up (at the Onion River Co-op in Burlington, VT.) Once we ran out, it was over for us mayonnaise-wise. Once you’re in the middle-of-nowhere, you’re lucky to come across the aforementioned Sysco ‘1756’ Brand Mayonnaise, and the reality is that shit will fuck-up a sandwich. The significance of 1756 is beyond me. All I could dig up of any real importance was that it’s the year that ALF was born. In any case, running out meant the end of egg salad, and tuna; it meant dryer, less satisfying cold-cut sandwiches. (I was going to try to come up with some bizarre, off-the-wall use for mayonnaise, but I can’t top this: “Some physicians are now recommending the use of mayonnaise to combat head lice infections. Certain strains of head lice have become very resistant to the traditional chemical treatments, but leaving mayonnaise in the hair overnight with a shower cap will cause the lice to suffocate and die. Comb out any remaining nits with a fine tooth comb and repeat the process seven days later.” [from: Mayo-what!].) Right. So like I was saying, it was hard going without the stuff. This simple item really expands the possibilities of eating something decent and even delicious in a situation where you often had to settle for whatever was left at the bottom of your pannier. It dawned on me in Virginia that I should have made up a care-package of mayonnaises before we left, but alas, we rode our last two months mayonnaise-less.
So it went until we made it to Georgia, where we are currently wrapping up an extended break. As the day of our departure grows closer and closer, I had lately been thinking about our current mayonnaise situation again, and what we were going to do about it. We hadn’t come across any Hellmann’s since, I don’t know, Philadelphia, and the prospects seemed pretty bleak that we would discover a new supply, but I found some more. That’s right! They have Hellmann’s mayonnaise packets at Panera Bread! I started stockpiling them last week.