Should the killers of 'the Taylor Swift of condiments' be brought to justice?

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Credit: Photo Illustration by Ad Age

From time to time, as part of our continuing media-about-media coverage, we here at Ad Age like to direct your attention to stories we think you should read. Our No. 1 recommendation at the moment: "How Millennials Killed Mayonnaise," by Philadelphia Magazine columnist Sandy Hingston, who writes about gradually realizing that,

... While I wasn't watching, mayo's day had come and gone. It's too basic for contemporary tastes — pale and insipid and not nearly exotic enough for our era of globalization. Good ol' mayo has become the Taylor Swift of condiments.

The always-delightful Hingston takes anecdotal experience from her own family, briefly dives down a historical rabbit hole (e.g., FYI: Richard Hellmann, of Hellmann's mayo fame, has a weird Titanic connection), decontructs the mayo-hating she sees in the media, and then connects it all to larger cultural crosscurrents:

Do you think 23andMe and MyHeritage and all those other DNA testing companies are flourishing because people want to find out their ancestors came from Aberdeen? Hells, no; they wannabe from Marrakesh or Manchuria or Malawi. It's the same with condiments. I'm not part of the elderly mayo masses; I'm turkey and Swiss on ciabatta with tzatziki, chipotle spread and a little basil pesto. That's who I am, dammit. My sandwich, my self.

Thanks to the clickworthy headline on Hingston's essay, it's become a minor phenomenon on social media—and as of this writing it's No. 1 on Phillymag.com's "Trending" chart—and naturally attracted the attention of Business Insider, which served up its own clickworthy headline: "People are freaking out over a report that millennials are killing mayonnaise. Here's the truth." (Spoiler: The truth is that, yeah, mayo sales are down and generational shifts in food preferences seem to be involved in that decline.) (Hold our Sriracha.)

In the end, Hingston makes mayo consumption sound almost righteous ("Mayonnaise has been the building block for a thousand different tweaks in a rainbow of cultures: Russian dressing! Rémoulade! Comeback sauce, fry sauce, Kewpie, salsa rosada, mayochup..."). And given that accusations of wrongdoing that blow up on social media basically demand some sort of payback, we're going to ask the obvious question: What should older generations kill that millennials love? (Again, the Sriracha. Please hold it.)

Think about that while you dip your fries in mayo or eat a nice potato salad.

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