Product Review: Hellmann’s Vegan Carefully Crafted Dressing

You probably remember when Unilever sued Hampton Creek over their use of the word “mayo” in their fabulous Just Mayo product. And you probably remember that Unilever dropped the suit. You may even have noticed when early in 2016, Unilever announced their own vegan “spread” to compete with Just Mayo.

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From http://fortune.com/2016/02/02/unilever-hampton-creek-mayo-wars/.

Original packaging. Image from Fortune.com.[/caption]

On Tuesday, November 29th, I saw that very spread, which now prominently features the word “vegan” in the name, and decided to try it. (The initial incarnation did not feature the word “vegan”. Compare the image below with the image above.)

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Today’s packaging. Image from hellmanns.com.[/caption]

I saw the spread while walking through the condiment aisle of my local chain grocery store on the hunt for mustard but eyeing the shelves in case they had Just Mayo. It’s worth noting that this very store, despite carrying products by Tofurky and Gardein, does not carry any vegan mayos other than this Hellmann’s product.

In any case, here’s the verdict on Hellmann’s Vegan Carefully Crafted Dressing:

  • Color: Fine
  • Mouth-feel: Fine
  • Taste: Like plastic mixed with paperboard

Really, it’s positively remarkable how bad it tastes. I’m too lazy to do real research to determine the history here, but vegan mayonnaises have been around for at least 20 years, led by companies like Earth Island / Follow Your Heart, which makes Vegenaise. Nasoya (Nayonaise) and Spectrum have also made vegan mayos for nearly as many years (maybe more). And today, in addition to Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo, we have excellent vegan mayo products by Earth Balance and Sir Kensington.

So, it’s incredible that a company as well capitalized as Unilever couldn’t come up with something better. This leads me to the following conclusion. Unilever, in retaliation for their humiliating loss against Hampton Creek, is trying to leverage their shelf-placement power to do damage to the vegan name. Just Mayo has impressive reach into Whole Foods, Walmarts, and Targets across the US, but Hellmann’s reach is no question greater, and reasonable minds are left to conclude that Unilever is doing their darnedest to damage trend toward vegan product adoption by pushing their “Carefully Crafted” crap product.

I want to conclude by saying that despite Hampton Creek’s insistence on using the least functional squeeze bottle design ever, they still have an amazing product, and I keep stocked on their original, chipotle, and sriracha flavors, all of which deserve celebration.