Mayonnaise is serious business. Long thought of as a spread containing eggs and vinegar, the condiment has come under renewed scrutiny in recent months. With an upstart known as Hampton Creek introducing a vegan-friendly line of mayo that lacked what some thought of as a crucial pair of ingredients, legal challenges soon ensued. Even when the plaintiffs in that matter dropped their case, though, the FDA took up the banner on its own, as a recent LAtimes article on Hampton Creek shows.
While those troubles might have dissuaded a company less committed to its products and mission, Hampton Creek seems since to have prevailed. The FDA, it turns out, was worried less about how the names of the spreads included the word “mayo,” and more about the use of the word “just.” Founded by devoted vegans, Hampton Creek saw the condiments as ways of treating animals more justly, and never intended, it says, to imply that the products were the only kind of mayo that deserved the name or contained only that substance.
In the end, all that it took to resolve this regulatory impasse was a brief disclaimer detailing this perspective. With the “Just Mayo” line of products thereby staying on the market in otherwise unaltered form, Hampton Creek sailed through a challenging time with little in the way of lasting marks.
In fact, many observers believe that the company actually benefited greatly from the controversy. Publications around the country, like the LA Times, gravitated to the story with great eagerness, finding it in a number of individually fascinating factors combined in an especially palatable mix. Just like the mayonnaise that lay at the root of the disagreements in the case, this tangy news concoction was a big hit with readers all around the country.
While the idea that no publicity is bad publicity can certainly be carried too far and even become dangerous, this ruckus therefore turned out to be a shining exemplar of the underlying thought. Turning what was originally intended as a ruthless challenge by a competitor into lots of free exposure of a positive sort, Hampton Creek did very well by itself and for its customers.