Heinz’s latest condiment has Cree-speakers questioning what exactly is being put on their burgers this summer. Mayochup, a limited-edition condiment that combines ketchup and mayonnaise, has a very different meaning in Mushkego Cree, a northern Ontario dialect. The translation has left those fluent in the language laughing over the name of the new product.
According to Edith Larocque, the band administrator for the Chapleau Cree, the word mayochup translates to shit-face or shitty-face. “It’s spelt differently, but the enunciation of it is exactly what’s on [the condiment],” she says.
The unfortunate translation was first spotted by Jonathan Soloman of Kashechewan First Nation and Grand Chief of the Mushkegouwk Council. He contacted CBC’s Up North program host Waubgeshig Rice about the translation, and Rice promptly tweeted it out.
Within a few days, the post was retweeted over a thousand times and picked up by other media outlets like The Guardian.
In response to the tweet, Michael Mullen, a spokesperson for Heinz, reached out to Rice over email, writing: “We have heard about the unfortunate translation of Mayochup in Cree. The only thing we want our consumers, whichever dialect of Cree they speak, to have on their faces this summer is our newest condiment mash-up.”
Rice discussed the Cree translation of Mayochup during one of his radio shows, expressing surprise at how quickly his tweet went viral. He also clarified that the translation doesn’t have any colloquial meanings but is quite literal. “I think it just means having excrements on your face,” he said.
Larocque doesn’t recall ever seeing another English-language product or service that translates into Cree—especially one with such a regrettable meaning. “If Heinz is fine with Cree individuals referring to their ketchup as shitty-face then they’re the ones that have to live with it,” she says.
Larocque hasn’t tried mayochup yet and doesn’t know anyone who has, but she’s not opposed to the product. Ketchup and mayonnaise are her condiments of choice on hot dogs, she says. “From now on, I’ll consider putting shitty-face on a hotdog, thanks to Heinz.”