I love the Blue Plate building at Earhart and Jeff Davis. I know it's apartments now, but when was Blue Plate mayonnaise produced there?
Blue Plate mayonnaise has been a staple of New Orleans kitchens and restaurants (particularly po-boy shops) since 1927, though it hasn't been made in the city since 1999. From 1943 until that time, the mayonnaise was produced at the company's 99,000-square-foot building at South Jefferson Davis Parkway and Earhart Boulevard.
Blue Plate originated in 1927, a decade or so after commercial production of mayonnaise became popular. The product was a subsidiary of Wesson Oil and Snowdrift, which produced salad oil and shortening. A local operations manager, Charles A. Nehlig, is considered Blue Plate's founder.
"The mayonnaise, he knew, had to be distinctive and different," reported The New Orleans Item in an October 1950 profile. "Many recipes were tested and before the final decision, a panel of housewives was asked to 'taste and tell.'"
Nehlig said the name was inspired by Blue Willow, a china pattern featuring pagodas and doves. The mayonnaise initially was produced at a warehouse in Gretna. As it became popular locally, Blue Plate also expanded into several southern states. Other products made under the Blue Plate label included peanut butter, coffee, jelly and margarine.
The boat was the last known sidewheel steamboat in the country
The three-story Blue Plate plant, opened in 1943, was designed by architect August Perez Jr. in the Art Moderne or Streamline Moderne style, known for its curving forms, long horizontal lines and streamlined appearance.
In 1974, Blue Plate was purchased by the Wm. B. Reily and Company Inc., now known as Reily Foods Company, makers of coffee and tea such as Luzianne, French Market and CDM. In 2000, the company moved the mayonnaise production to a plant in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The former Blue Plate building was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. In 2012, it was converted into 72 mixed-income apartments, with leasing preference given to artists. The familiar neon sign atop the building was changed from "Blue Plate Mayonnaise" to "Blue Plate Artist Lofts."