Eat It, Virginia


How Richmond-based Duke's works to make mayonnaise cool

Dukes Cover.png
Posted at 7:56 AM, Jun 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-06 07:57:02-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- After 100+ episodes, "Eat It, Virginia" finally put the focus on condiments. And what better condiment to feature than Richmond, Virginia-based Duke's Mayo?

Founded more than 100 years ago in South Carolina, the Richmond, Virginia-based C.F. Sauer Company bought the brand in 1929.

Over the generations, Duke's Mayo has become synonymous with Southern cooking.

Duke's Mayo

These days, Duke's is the fastest-growing mayo brand in the country, brand manager Rebecca Lupesco said.

"Our team is based in Richmond. We work with a creative agency here in Richmond. We are all over the South and actually, we're national because Kroger has just taken the brand on a national level," Lupesco said. "But we advertise and market the brand all over the Southeast."

The job of marketing the mayo, Lupesco said, is making it relevant to current culture.

"We have [Duke's] diehards who literally get Duke's tattoos on their bodies. And so it's really just celebrating our fans, celebrating the product, celebrating the chefs that use us and telling stories and really fun and meaningful ways," she said.


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One story-telling vehicle Duke's uses is an event they call Hot Tomato Summer.

From July 24 - 30, restaurants in Richmond, Greenville, South Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina will feature dishes that allow both Duke's and tomatoes to shine.

"We started [Hot Tomato Summer] here in Richmond in 2021. It was really just a way to, coming out of the pandemic, drive traffic and fun back to some of the restaurants and really help our core customers," she said. "All the restaurants who were involved in it really liked it. So we brought it back last year, for year two, and expanded to Greenville. And then this year, we are expanding into two more cities."

College football is another big branding opportunity for Duke's. This year the Duke’s Mayo Classic college football game will air Saturday, September 2 at 7:30 p.m. The Duke’s Mayo Bowl will air on December 27 at 5:30 p.m.

Duke's Mayo Bowl Football
Maryland head coach Mike Locksley is doused with mayonnaise after Maryland defeated North Carolina State 16-12 to win the Duke's Mayo Bowl NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Dec. 30, 2022.

As per tradition, the winning coach will have mayo dumper on their head. Listen to the podcast to hear how that messy tradition began.

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