Conde Nest Traveler by Ken Jennings
September 24, 2018
American towns have been renaming themselves in honor of corporate brands for longer than viral marketing has even been a thing. Ismay, Montana was briefly Joe, Montana when the future NFL Hall of Famer joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993. Halfway, Oregon renamed itself Half.com at the height of the dot-com boom. Hot Springs, New Mexico renamed itself Truth or Consequences to attract the love of a 1950s game show—and has stuck with the new name for almost 70 years. That’s still the only rebranding to stay permanently in the road atlas—unless this tiny Florida town is serious about being named for condiment.
Mayo, Florida is not named for mayonnaise.
Mayo was founded after the Civil War in the eastern part of Florida’s Big Bend region. It is the county seat—and indeed, the only town at all—in Lafayette County, the second-least populous county in Florida. A former Confederate colonel named James Mayo had been surveying in the area at the time the town was founded, and was asked to favor the settlers with a Fourth of July speech, which apparently went over very well. This is a town named for a random passerby, not for a sandwich spread.
A condiment-themed Twilight Zone episode begins.
One month ago, on Saturday, August 25, the 1,200 or so residents of Mayo awoke to find themselves in a strange new world. The town water tower now read “Miracle Whip.” A man on a ladder was covering up the word “Mayo” on the old firehouse, so the sign now read “Miracle Whip Fire Dept.” T-shirts reading “Proud to Be from Miracle Whip, Florida” and “#NoMoreMayo” were on offer, and a picnic featured lots of items made with the tangy zip of the town’s new namesake product.