Durkee or not Durkee: is there even a question?
Saturday September 17th 2016, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

The annual Labor Day block party happened today because that’s when the people who organize it could be there.

Having forgotten to buy cream, I didn’t bring a chocolate torte this year, but I figured homegrown black cherry tomatoes were a decent trade-off, with some Durkee sauce on the side and a plastic knife to scoop it out with and a note explaining that they go together.

It’s one of the great old traditions of summer. My dad tells me he learned about Durkee’s (there should be an ‘s there. There really should) from Richard’s great uncle (probably before we were even born, right, Dad?)

Three times I saw someone bending over my bowl and wondering out loud, without reaching in, Are those tomatoes?

I did not go on and on about their having been picked in the early morning for peak sweetness, yadda yadda; I just said, Yes, and homegrown, too!

A few got eaten. The Durkee was left untouched. Leaving me wondering, is that combination just an East Coast thing? Don’t these people know how good this is? I couldn’t find it in any stores here and had to order a six-pack online, so hey, I had plenty to share if they’d let me.

Okay, searching for it to offer you all a link, I got this:

This popular tangy sandwich spread has been around for over 100 years! It was even served in the Lincoln White House!”

With a picture of the bottle.

But when I searched for info on that actual item on the manufacturer’s website, it seems that after hanging in there since the mid-1800s, it… Is on the list of all their products but isn’t under Sauces and it isn’t filed under F. Wait, don’t tell me they’re not making it now!

Looking a little harder, I found this on food.com, along with a recipe for faking it:

“Eugene R. Durkee created the first prepared and packaged salad dressing called Durkee Famous Sauce in 1857. To appreciate his endeavor, it is important to remember this was created prior to refrigeration. His creation was carried west by the pioneers. Historians have found old, discarded Durkee dressing bottles along covered-wagon trails. Durkee Famous Sauce was even purported to be stocked in Mary Todd Lincoln’s pantry and served to Abraham Lincoln in the White House during the Civil War.”

The real stuff, as currently constituted (i.e. with soybean oil) is still on Amazon after all. Phew.

6 Comments so far
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I use Durkee Famous Sacue all the time for tuna or egg salad – wouldn’t be caught without it.

There are lots of places around here that sell it, but y have to look for it. Nob Hill has it, and I’ve probably seen it at Draeger’s.

I’m a Midwesterner, so maybe it’s better known east of the Mississippi.

Comment by Anne 09.17.16 @ 11:41 pm

P.S. Durkee.com look under “all products”, then “F” and it’s the second product shown.

No need to panic now, I suspect it will be around for a while. (I certainly hope so!)

Comment by Anne 09.17.16 @ 11:48 pm

This is the first time I ever heard of this. It sort of looks like Velveeta in a jar.

Comment by Jody 09.18.16 @ 2:20 am

YUM! We used to use it on ham sandwiches all the time. It is not available in my local grocery stores. I also have problems finding other “old” favorites now that sadley we no longer have any Mom & Pop store

Comment by sue o 09.18.16 @ 7:15 am

Never heard of this sauce before! (Although I had heard of the cans and discards as people travelled west) a funny corollary…I bought two indigo rose tomatoes as a lark at the farmer’s market with my kids. I ended up eating one, but the twin who loves tomatoes was full by then, so we saved it. It is a sort of big cherry tomato or very small beefsteak with a purple black color. Gorgeous looking, but not amazing flavour, but anyhow…

My husband presented it to the same kid the next morning st breakfast..he thought it was a plum. Uhh, no, Dad! Needless to say, that kid got another kind of fruit at breakfast!

Comment by joanne 09.18.16 @ 4:22 pm

I don’t think it is just an east coast thing, we had it the whole time growing up in Idaho and Utah, during to 60’s-70’s, and also in Utah. We have it here in Minnesota as well, though I had a bit of trouble finding it for a couple of weeks this summer; it seems to be back in stock in all the regular places now. It is required on BLT’s!

Comment by Barbara S. 09.18.16 @ 6:22 pm

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