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Mayo Man: 1926

Washington, D.C., circa 1926. "Semmes Motor Co. -- Gelfand's truck." There is of course dignity in all work. But still, I'm glad I don't have to tell people that "I drive the mayonnaise wagon." National Photo glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1926. "Semmes Motor Co. -- Gelfand's truck." There is of course dignity in all work. But still, I'm glad I don't have to tell people that "I drive the mayonnaise wagon." National Photo glass negative. View full size.


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Mr. Carpel was also honored

... with an underground passage between the Harry Carpel Building of Chemistry and another campus laboratory. Surely you've heard of the Carpel Tunnel.

I Hate Mayo

Ever since the day (I was about 9) that I swallowed (but not for long) a HUGE tablespoon of what I THOUGHT was Marshmallow Creme, just the thought mayonnaise is ghastly enough to make me profoundly ill. It's taking effect just by writing this. The picture of this truck takes it to a whole new level.

If I taped a picture of the Mayonnaise Wagon to the fridge, I could cut down my food costs by roughly 100%.

Gelfand's Mayo

Washington Post, Oct 16, 1925

The Home of Gelfand's Quality Products

Fifteen years ago while conducting a delicatessen stand in Lexington Market, Baltimore, Simon Gelfand prepared Mayonnaise from a special recipe for the customers who patronized his store. The product sprang into instant popularity.

Today Gelfand's Mayonnaise is made in a modern factory, flooded on all sides with sunlight surrounded by a well kept lawn in the suburbs of Baltimore. Automatic machinery draws the olive oil as it arrives in tank cars, mixes the product, fills, caps and labels the glass jar containers.

To insure the utmost cleanliness and healthful conditions, employees of the factory are required to undergo medical examinations at stated intervals, each employee is furnished with a clean uniform daily, and shower, baths and recreation rooms are provided.

Distributing branches for Gelfand's products are located in points as far west as Los Angeles, as far north as Boston and Detroit, and as far south as Tampa, Fla. Harry Carpel, with headquarters in Washington, conducts branches in Philadelphia, Boston and Pittsburgh. Mr. Carpel has been associated with Mr. Gelfand since the founding of the business.

Mr. Gelfand is now preparing for a trip to the coast where he is going to make arrangements for the establishment of a branch factory, to take care of the rapidly growing business out there. A branch is necessary because of the inconvenience of shipping in carload lots from Baltimore.


Submarine sandwich

Remember when Harry Carpel drove the truck into the Potomac? It was Washington's first Sinko de Mayo.

The truck

Graham Brothers.

Harry L. Carpel Obit

Washington Post, Jul 18, 1956

Harry L. Carpel, Food Merchant

Harry L. Carpel, pioneer Washington food distributor, who continued in business and public life though stricken blind six years ago, died yesterday. He was 60.

Mr. Carpel who often put in 14 or 16 hours a day traveled frequently to Chicago, Florida and Georgia to conduct his business.

In 1917, he was one of the first to distribute package cheese and mayonnaise, which was made in Baltimore. In 1938 he started marketing the Carpel brand of frozen foods.

Mr. Carpel fought a diabetic condition for 20 years before his eyesight began to dim. He became totally blind in 1949. He said that the loss of his sight only sharpened his memory.

He became well known for his charitable acts. He loaned money to many small grocery men to get them started in the business. He was a sponsor of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Brandeis University and Haifa Institute of Technion in Israel.

In March, 1954, he was honored at a testimonial dinner by friends of Bar Ilan, a university in Tel Aviv. The university presented him with a scroll symbolizing the dedication of the Harry Carpel Building of Chemistry. [It's still there!]

After losing his fight against blindness, Mr. Carpel sold the controlling interest in his business and began to move toward a forced retirement. But within a few weeks he went back to work for the new owners and in September, 1953, he repurchased his controlling interest and went back to work as owner and chief executive. Mr. Carpel explained it saying, he had too much time on his hands. He said he learned it didn't pay to quit.

He is survived by his wife, Anna; two sons, Albert J. of Chevy Chase, and Jack of Washington; two brothers, Samuel L. and Joseph M. Carpel, both of Washington; two sisters, Rose Geller of Washington and Sophia Gumenick, of Richmond, and five grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at the Beth Sholom Congregation, 8th and Shepherd sts. nw., Thursday at 1 p.m. Burial will be at Beth Sholom Cemetery. The family asks that flowers be omitted.

I Drive the Mayonnaise Wagon

You wouldn't have to tell them anything, David. The things you do to keep body and soul together are none of their business.

Mama always said

"You gotta watch out for the mayonnaise man."


Not sure if I would want that title either, but this was in the day when grocery stores would get individual deliveries, opposed to what we have today where one truck pulls up and has everything on it.

Servicing the Mayonnaise Truck

When it was time for a valve job, would they take it to the Mayo Clinic?

"Say cheese"

And doesn't he look pleased about having his photo taken?

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