Mayo And Aioli

This Foodie Friday, let us contemplate the differences between mayonnaise and aioli. I’d argue for most people, there isn’t a difference. I mean, they’re both creamy condiments, right? It seems that any flavored mayo is presented as aioli and true aioli has morphed into something more like mayo with the addition of egg yolks or lemon juice.

There is a difference, of course. Mayo is an emulsification of egg yolks and a neutral oil such as canola while aioli is emulsified garlic and olive oil. Mayo is usually spread on sandwiches or mixed in with potato or macaroni salad while aioli is a traditional dip for veggies or a sauce for shellfish.

So is olive oil-based mayo an aioli? No, because there is no garlic. Is Garlic-flavored mayo aioli? No, because there’s no olive oil. And of course, simply adding egg yolks to aioli doesn’t make it mayo.

All of that said, to the public at large (you know, your customers!), labeling something as mayo or aioli is a distinction without a difference. Maybe aioli sounds fancier but does the average person realize the difference? The terms have become interchangeable, and it raises a business point for any of us.

What we call things – products or services – does matter. Think about pre-owned vs. used, whether it’s a car or golf clubs. “Used” sounds like they’re dirty while pre-owned sounds like someone’s broken it in for you. I mean, aren’t your jeans better after you’ve worn them a few times? A pre-owned car has had the bugs worked out and fixed while a used car probably came in on a hook.

Calling a sales rep a client happiness manager doesn’t change their job but it might just change their mindset. It puts the emphasis on the correct party. These are distinctions without differences too, except even though they define the same concept, they are perceived very differently. That’s something you need to consider as you sit down and put the aioli or mayo on your burger!

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