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Mayo Mayhem

Wednesday, 23 May 2007 | 10:03 AM ET

Chocolate cake. Macaroni and cheese. Crab cakes. Tomato sandwich. And they have in common?

My stomach and mayonnaise. Duke's Mayonnaise.

Mauldin, South Carolina is the home of Duke's Mayonnaise -- here in the South, it's not mayonnaise if it's not Duke's. It all started 90 years ago in the kitchen of Eugenia Duke in Greenville, South Carolina. Ninety years later, Duke's is one of the signature brands of C.F. Sauer, the spice and food company based in Richmond, Virginia.

Both are "signatures" of the South: C.F. Sauer, a generations-old, family-owned company, and Duke's, a heritage product that has been sitting on the tables of the people of the American South for 90 years.

No sugar... a touch more of vinegar... a tart-tasting mayo that is wonderful on the tongue.

But more importantly, it's a terrific example of the strength of the 'regional' brand strategy -- and the diversity of the American economy.

Duke's is a taste of the South -- and a taste of business in the South. The genius of the C.F. Sauer company is its ability to acquire regional brands and make them contemporary. It's a strategy more companies should recognize.

One note on Greenville (the closest 'big' town to Mauldin): it has gone through a terrific metamorphosis in the last decade. It's an 'old' Southern town now on the rise -- BMW, Michelin, Toshiba... You can go to China to see a 'new' economy... You can go to Silicon Valley... But the most vibrant economic expansion I've seen on the road this year is in the South.

And you can get a tomato sandwich to boot!!!

Questions? Comments? mikeonamerica@nbcuni.com