Look familiar? You have probably seen this and already tried it, wondering if it gets better than Vegenaise. (Does it? My vote is no, but that’s beside the point here.) You may also have heard that the food giant Unilever is suing the start-up company Hampton Creek, maker of this spread that tastes like mayonnaise but contains yellow peas instead of eggs (Whirled Peas! Literally!) — hence the logo that depicts an egg with a pea shoot growing through it. For us, the most important aspect of Just Mayo is that no one got hurt to make it. The lawsuit contends that Hampton Creek is guilty of false advertising and fraud (because Unilever, which sells $60 BILLION worth of stuff worldwide under 1,000 different brand names, is SO concerned about false advertising) — and, the crux of the matter, is denting sales of its own mayonnaise products, marketed under the brand names Hellmann’s and Best Foods. (Wait, isn’t that how capitalism works?!)
By FDA regulations, mayonnaise contains egg yolks. Just Mayo does not, it is true, but then it doesn’t call itself mayonnaise either. Also, considering Hampton Creek specifically markets the eggless-ness of Just Mayo, it can hardly be said to be creating false impressions. Nevertheless, Unilever’s suit alleges it will suffer “irreparable harm” from Just Mayo, feigns concern that “consumers are being misled”, and demands damages of three times Hampton Creek’s profits, plus legal fees, plus the recall of all Just Mayo products and marketing materials, and a change in logo.
In the first 24 hours of the story going public, Hampton Creek received 18,000 messages of support. Unilever and Hellmann’s were deluged by negative comments. And the media visibility for Just Mayo has been estimated at the equivalent of advertising worth $20+ million in just the first week after the lawsuit was filed. HA!
During that time Unilever was busy quietly cleaning a bunch of it’s own websites and product descriptions, which were found LIKEWISE not to conform to the rules it was trying to set for Just Mayo.
Just Mayo is already on the shelves in chains like Costco, Target and WalMart, and Hampton Creek has also begun selling Just Cookies, an eggless, dairy-free cookie dough in four varieties. Will Keebler’s elves be lining up at their own lawyer’s office to accuse Hampton Creek of fraud in their use of the word “Cookies”??