The Unusual Sandwich Topping That's Gained A Cult Following

Let's start off with a simple question: what's your favorite sandwich topping? Is it the classic peanut butter and jelly? Onions and pickles? Or do you perhaps like a big scoop of sauerkraut and relish? Whatever the case may be, the humble sandwich has been a canvas for all sorts of toppings and combinations, ranging from the delicious to the downright bizarre. In fact, some of the most popular sandwich toppings we enjoy have roots going back decades ago.

The egg salad sandwich, a sandwich popular either homemade or pre-packaged, is credited to have been invented in America sometime between the 1800s and "before 1762," TasteAtlas tells us, when peeled hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise were slathered between bread. The first recorded recipe for the beloved BLT sandwich is traced back to a 1903 edition of "Good Housekeeping" (via Gunther Toody's), although the recipe calls for the addition of turkey alongside the usual bacon, lettuce, and tomato. The cheesy patty melt, in all of its caramelized onion goodness, has roots in a California coffee shop owned by William "Tiny" Naylor sometime in the 1940s or 1950s (via Grub Street). Be they cheesy, meaty, or stuffed with eggs, there's no denying that many sandwiches have earned their place in the diners, restaurants, and stomachs of many Americans.

But there's one sandwich topping that was called a luxury, something that was hailed as the refined man's mayonnaise, for the "true" sandwich connoisseur. Yet nowadays, scant few know the name of this once-famed product. 

What was Durkee Famous Sauce?

When someone mentions mayonnaise to you, chances are that you pass it off as your average sandwich condiment and go on with your life. But if you were asked if you wanted to dunk your sandwich in Durkee Sauce, you might stop and go: "Wait, what did you say? A WHAT sauce?"

Durkee Famous Sauce is described by HuffPost as a "mustardy, vinegary, mayonnaise-based concoction," a cross between your everyday jar of mayonnaise and salad dressing, it seems. HuffPost even reports that Durkee has been around for so long that it was favored by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. Indeed, Durkee Sauce seems to have been a rather popular product for its time, even dubbed a "luxury item" back in the early-to-mid 1930s. Salon tells us that the sauce billed itself as a "classy" dinner item, something along the lines of how one viewed a shrimp cocktail or a martini as a symbol of a high-class meal. The company claimed that its sauce was served everywhere from first-class flight menus to the restaurants of ritzy hotels. Over time, however, the idea of a "classy" sandwich topping eventually faded.

While Durkee hasn't gone out of business, it seems to be limited to only a select region of the United States — the Midwest. Reviews on Amazon raved about the tangy, smooth, and nostalgic flavor of Durkee sauce, although some noted that it was "overhyped," being a combination of mustard and mayonnaise.