French’s “Cream Salad” Mustard was introduced in 1904, a mild, smooth mustard with a distinctive, bright yellow color derived from turmeric. From the beginning, French’s was marketed as an integral ingredient in simple, at-home American cooking. The ad above depicts not only a jar of the mustard, but a recipe-book filled with “salads and savories”, all of which call for French’s Yellow Mustard.
This ad from 1944 continues in the same vein, displaying a spread of lunchbox items, again, all containing French’s mustard:
This ad for “Frenchwise Hamburgers” calls for the use of the mustard as an ingredient in the patties.
The kinds of food that you put yellow mustard on are all stereotypically American food items: hamburgers and hot dogs, potato and macaroni salads, deviled eggs, cold cut sandwiches- this list continues. Not only is French’s mustard an appropriate ingredient in and condiment for typically American foods, the mustard itself is designed to appeal to an American palate. It is sweeter, milder, and smoother than German and French style mustards (French’s mustard takes it’s name from the inventor, R. T. French, and not from the country of France.) Other popular mustards, such as Guldens and Grey Poupon, are spicier, browner, and have a grittier texture. Grey Poupon has a distinctly upper-class and foreign cachet, trying to appeal to people who want something fancy. Gulden’s has always set itself apart as the “spicy brown mustard”- this moniker implicitly marks itself out as an alternative to French’s mustard- it isn’t mild, and it isn’t yellow. French’s now calls itself the “classic” mustard, not the “mild yellow” mustard. French’s isn’t a mustard for folks looking for something fancy or different, it is the mustard of the people, the everyman’s mustard. And that is what makes it so American.