|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (July 2009)|
Maille is a brand of mustards, pickles, stoneware, salad dressings, kitchen gifts and oil which originated in Marseille, France in 1723. Today the company is a subsidiary of multinational consumer goods company Unilever. There are Maille boutiques in Dijon, Paris, London and New York.
The Maille story began in Marseille. Distiller Antoine Maille sold his own blend of vinegar from a pump in the street to the people of his hometown when the plague of 1723 hit the South of France. It is thought that Maille’s vinegar saved many from perishing when they sprayed themselves with the antiseptic vinegar. By 1747 Maille’s products were in popular demand further afield, and its first shop opened on Rue St André des Arts in Paris. The shop sold vinegars and mustard from the pump.
From this point, Antoine Maille’s products attracted the attention of monarchs all over Europe, and he was appointed Vinegar Maker and Distiller to Their Imperial Majesties of Hungary and Austria in 1760. His products then attracted the attention of King Louis XV of France in 1769, and became his dedicated supplier of vinegars and mustards. Shortly after, he was made official supplier of condiment to Empress Catherine of Russia in 1771.
In 1821, Maille’s son Antoine-Claude took over the family business and in 1845 Maille opened a new boutique in Dijon’s Rue de la Liberté. The store did much to replicate Maille’s first outfit in Marseille, including the porcelain pumps used for dispensing mustard into earthenware jars for customers. In 1996, Maille opened its second boutique in Paris, on Place de la Madeleine. The Place de la Madeleine boutique still exists today, although the boutique on Rue St André des Arts (opened in 1747) no longer exists. Maille’s website and online shop opened in 2007, and its first London boutique on Piccadilly opened in 2013.
Maille has three boutiques in Europe (in Paris, Dijon and London), all of which sell mustard from the pump in the traditional Maille fashion. A New York boutique opened in 2014.
Maille was purchased by entrepreneur Baron Philippe de Rothschild in 1930. The brand then joined forces with Grey Poupon in 1952. This conglomeration led to Maille products being sold in supermarkets across ten European countries, including France, Denmark and the UK. In 1930 Jean Herbout created the slogan “Il n'y a que Maille qui m'aille,” (“Only Maille can make me smile”) and in 1932 Maille Ora was created in response to competition in the market, particularly as competition for Savora, a flour-based product used in sauces.
In 1936 Herbout advertised the brand by spelling out the word ‘MAILLE’ in bright lights on the roofs of Parisian buildings at night time. This scene was captured on screen in an advert shown in cinemas called “Quand on En a Pas.” The onset of WWII brought an end to such advertising campaigns, however. In 1991 Maille started to sell 50cl bottles of balsamic vinegar in European supermarkets, focusing on the growing market for fine dining and luxury household condiments.
The Maille boutique on Place de la Madeleine in Paris opened in 1996, in time to celebrate 250 years since Maille’s first Paris boutique opened on Rue St André des Arts in 1747.
In 1998, advertising director Charlie Stebbings created a television advert for Maille that featured a signature theme tune and the inclusion of the Maille wooden gift box. A similar advert for Maille olive oil was launched in 1999.
Maille was sold to Paribas Affaires Industrielles in 1997, and was bought by multinational consumer goods company Unilever in 2000.
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