The very first time it dawned on me there were two different camps seeing mayonnaise was one day at a restaurant. I was having lunch with a good friend, and she had been interrogating the waitress about the chicken salad , asking her,”This does not have any of that horrible Miracle Whip, does it?” The waitress assured her it was pure mayo that held those little morsels together. My friend seemed relieved and ordered it, but I purchased something else.
I admit I come by it honestly. I was raised in a Miracle Whip home, and I inherited my mother’s dislike for mayonnaise. early. To this day, I buy only MW and so does my sister. However, mayo holds top honors in the condiment world, at least in the U.S., tied only with ketchup in popularity, and a must-have millions of sandwiches daily, in addition to in salads and sauces. Some fanatics even place it on french fries.
As a child, I often asked my mom why some sandwiches or salads tasted”gross” until I understood that MW had a distinctly different taste than traditional mayo, which, in my opinion, has no flavor in any way. When it finally clicked in my mind, and I knew the difference, it was MW all the way from then on.
But let us travel back in time to learn about mayo, and the French fire that began it all. The creation of mayonnaise is credited to the chef of Duke de Richelieu in 1756. While the Duke was defeating the British at Port Mahon in Menorca, Spain, his chef was whipping up a unique victory feast that included a unique sauce made with eggs and cream, staples of French cuisine. Some food historians insist that the Spanish pioneered the rich spread, but it appears more likely that the French did the honors. Word of mouth (and taste buds) traveled across the pond, and Americans quickly adopted the creamy madness. Many residents of French tradition, not to mention chefs looking for new frontiers, introduced it in New York City, and we know that by 1838, the popular restaurant Delmonico’s in Manhattan offered mayonnaise in a variety of dishes.
Soon chefs were dreaming up different ways to utilize the popular spread, especially in salads. In 1896, the famed Waldorf salad, made its debut to rave reviews at a charity ball at the Waldorf Hotel, chock full of apple pieces, celery, walnuts and grapes, all held together by that creamy mayo, and diners couldn’t get enough.
As refrigeration blossomed at the turn of the century, hundreds of food manufacturers raced to get their version of mayo in the stores. One such maker was Hellmann’s, a New York City brand that designed wide mouth jars which could accommodate large spoons and scoops, and they soon started to dominate the sector. Mayonnaise, which had heretofore been considered a luxury, was fast becoming a household staple and taking its place in the dinner tables in millions of homes. Many professional chefs and homemakers created their own versions, but jars of their favorite condiment were featured prominently on grocery store shelves.
Enter Miracle Whip, created in 1933 from the Chicago-based Kraft Foods Company.
So whether you are a straight mayonnaise user, a renegade Miracle Whip aficionado, or you are frequently heard to state”hold the mayo”, there is no getting around this exceptionally popular condiment, and we can thank the French gourmands once more for this creation.