The incredible true story of why I can’t stand mayo

Searching for this photo made me ill.

As a kid I didn’t mind mayo. My mom reminds me of this whenever I visit or we go to a restaurant and I hard pass on any offering of mayo.

“You used to eat mayo and cheese sandwiches as a kid, when did you stop liking mayonnaise?” She ‘d ask. Not every time, but often enough. Moms are like that.

Truth is I stopped enjoying mayo in my teens. I think it was a texture thing; I’d still eat it if it was used as an ingredient in tuna salad or something like that. But after the incident, the sight of mayo turns my stomach. Even saying the word raises my gag reflex.

The story about how I came to despise mayo begins back in 2004. It was a simpler time. George W Bush was the president. Martha Stewart went to jail. Janet Jackson popped out a titty at the Super Bowl.

I hired on with a major condiment manufacturing company in their quality department. It is a highly recognizable brand based out of Pittsburgh, but due to legal reasons I won’t address the company by name. Let’s just say it rhymes with Hines.

(Wait… shit. Oh well. Moving on.)

One of my tasks of assuring quality was to pull samples each month of the products we manufactured and send them out for testing (percent fat, salt analysis, viscosity, micro testing, etc). It was a random spot check, so I didn’t have to test every product each month. Some months I would pull samples of ketchup. Others I’d pull samples of barbecue sauce. Sometimes it was even vinegar.

But the months I sampled mayo were the worst of all.

After making a batch, production would pump it from the mix tank into 300 gallon totes. My job was to coordinate when these totes were being filled so I could time when to pull my samples.

The products were always pumped hot (some products were pasteurized, others warmed to make them flow better), so I’d have to wear oven mitts to keep from burning myself. The sample containers were made of slick plastic, so between the heat, the increasing weight and the low coefficient of friction between the mitts and the jugs, it took all I had to keep from dropping those damn jugs into the totes. When I did I’d have to fish them out.

Let me tell you something about hot mayonnaise. It’s an amorphous, gelatinous, viscous substance. It doesn’t flow naturally like a fluid, it behaves like it adheres to Minecraft liquid physics. It’s unnatural. So trying to capture a gallon of it while your feet slide against a slippery production floor while this stuff gloops and glops its way out of the pipe is a skillset few people are born with.

Also, due to its creamy/gelatinous nature, mayo traps air bubbles pretty easily. Sometimes the pumps would cavitate due to an air bubble in the line, leading to a huge splurting fart of mayo when the pressure normalized. Because of this, I wore more mayo on my sleeves than any human being ever should.

But the primary reason why I hate mayo can be pinpointed to the day I was doused head to toe with the stuff.

On the fateful day of my mayo bath,  I got out there a little late in the batch so it was near the end of the tank when more air gets sucked into the filling line. Either the operator didn’t tighten down the clamp or it vibrated loose on its own from all the burps and farts of mayo, but as I was sampling one of the hose connectors vibrated loose from the filling nozzle.

When the clamp disconnected and the hose broke free, unleashing a wild firehose of mayonnaise spewing its vile warm goop upon all creation!

By creation, I mean mostly upon me.

It was in my hair. In my pockets. In my shoes. Everywhere.

“Oh my God.”

Those were the first words I heard as I walked away from the filling station. All around me were sympathetic eyes that would soon be full of tears from the hysterical laughter that would follow once I was out of earshot.

I didn’t have a change of clothes on hand so after I showered I had to borrow a uniform from one of the maintenance employees. Even after I got it all washed off, I could still smell it. It took days to finally get the smell out.

The only silver lining to this story?

The following week after my mayonnaise baptism my hair looked amazing. So full of body and shiny. Downright lustrous.

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