But hang onto your Hellman's and spread your Miracle Whip while you can, because "flavor boundaries" have staked out our clusters. A kind of "mayonnaise line" splits America's heartland from coast to coast. "The Mayonnaise Line divides the creamy Hellman's buyers in the South and Northeast from the tart Kraft Miracle Whip lovers in the Midwest and Northwest," Weiss notes. The line (which divides California at Santa Barbara) could be unsettling to a ZQ 21 "Middle America"-bred Miracle Whip devotee transplanted from Marshall, Mich., to a ZQ 18 "New Melting Pot" Los Feliz neighborhood where pumpernickel and rye bread enjoy high usage (along with The New Yorker, mutual funds and wine by the case). A Miracle Whip shortage in Los Angeles might presage a population drift to another "New Melting Pot" neighborhood such as Geary in San Francisco.
The aforementioned Marshall, "a classic 'Middle America' community," is at the country's socioeconomic midpoint, although, because of neighborhood influences of race, ethnicity and urbanization, Weiss finds that no single "Average American" exists. Here, as in corresponding neighborhoods such as Hagerstown, Md., and Oshkosh, Wis., domestic air charters, mail-order catalogues, Plymouth Sundances, pizza mixes and "Newhart" enjoy their finest cluster hours.
Yet "Middle America" is not all-powerful; home to only 3.2% of the nation's households, it's half as populous as ZQ 10, rated "Blue-Chip Blues." However, as Weiss says, by understanding a "Middle America" haven like Marshall--where "there is no 'other side of the tracks,' " a band plays Sousa marches in the park every Thursday in July and life has few extremes--"it is possible to discern an 'average' cluster by using the ZQ scale of social rank."