Pipe Dreams: In Praise of the Mayonnaise Scraper


It’s 1pm on Wednesday. Tim has escaped the grasp of the lectures which had lurched grimly on through the morning. Tim is hungry. He begins to construct a sandwich on the grungy kitchen counter. The bread is plonked. The cheese is mangled into lumps. A knife is located: he unscrews the Hellman’s.


But what is this? Tim’s eyes do not meet with a creamy layer of virgin mayo. Oh no – there is not even enough white stuff to coat his blade. What Tim sees are the slightly yellowing contours left by the knife-work of previous lunch architects.

Does he despair? Does he surrender when faced with the smudged glass of an almost empty jar? Most certainly not: Tim endures the cruel clink of utensil on glass! He performs tricky rotational manoeuvres! He scrapes away at that jar until an inordinate amount of mayonnaise has emerged from the glassy void.

I respect people who scrape out nearly-empty jars of mayonnaise. I respect them more than I respect charity marathoners. They stand tall next to Olympians, or saints. Some might brand this view ridiculous. Some might say that for the average sandwich maker, scraping out is a necessity. Indeed, Tim doesn’t have another jar ready and waiting. Neither can he lay his hands on an alternative loaf-moistening substance.

However, I don’t accept that this is Tim’s only option. No – a lesser person might easily have cast the jar aside and reached for a pot noodle. It would be foolish to suggest that the thought had not crossed his mind. Yet Tim does not throw down his sword. Oh no. The fat lady is still gargling raw eggs backstage. The towel is most definitely still out. Like a heroically migrating reindeer, Tim justifies this simile in absolutely no way other than by his wild-eyed determination to survive. And survival for Tim means extracting enough golden Hellman’s residue to satisfactorily spread his bread.



In the eyes of some, this perseverance shows an ethical approach to humanity’s resources. To scrape clean represents a commitment to making do with what we have. It is a small but powerful gesture of solidarity with those who dream of having even one jar of mayonnaise. For others, it is economic stupidity: a senseless expenditure of effort for worthlessly small return. Most would recognise Tim’s devotion to his condiment as an endorsement of its tastiness. (Know why it’s called Hellman’s? Cos’ Hell, Man it’s good!)

But above all, Mayo Scrapers are heroic because they KNOW. They know the glorious rush when one has managed, against all odds, to extract enough white-gold to soak a slice of crusty wholemeal. Oh for the world to know how it feels! It’s almost as wonderful as the buzz when a precariously filled bowl of rice krispies retains its structural integrity after milking. But that’s another story.


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