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Lawsuit claims former employee stole secret recipes of Duke’s mayonnaise founder

Illustration for article titled Lawsuit claims former employee stole secret recipes of Duke’s mayonnaise founder
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We’re hoping Susan Orlean—author of Orchid Thief, The Library Book, and others—can clear her schedule, because we need a true-crime novel about this situation in time for beach reading next summer.


The Post And Courier in Charleston, South Carolina reports Duke Foods, makers of Duke’s sandwich spreads, has filed a lawsuit against a former employee alleging theft of recipes, formulas, trade secrets, and other proprietary information that would allegedly cost the company millions of dollars if revealed to competitors. Scandalous!

The former Duke executive in question is Wyatt Howard, a name undeniably perfect for a movie character based on Orlean’s book. Duke’s alleges Howard swiped the secret recipes from his email account and a laptop when he was fired in May. The lawsuit claims Howard—who we’re fairly certain is not a pseudonym for Drew Magary—has since passed that information to Tennessee-based Knott’s Fine Foods, “a competing sandwich spreads seller.”


The recipes and formulas in question are, to some people’s relief, not the ones for the actual Duke’s mayonnaise, which is owned by a separate group from Duke Foods. Now, who will play Eugenia Duke in the movie version?

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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Richard Dawson's Ghost

But for real: egg, oil, salt. Maybe some vinegar? Mustard for flavor? It’s not that complicated.