And why does the label say it’s “dressing”?
what is miracle whip
Credit: Video still via YouTube

Have you ever looked for mayo in a fridge that isn’t yours and found nothing but Miracle Whip? Or perhaps you closely examined all the product placement in Lady Gaga’s "Telephone" video? Have you ever wondered what that white spread was, exactly? Probably many of you have been there—I know I have. The label says it’s “dressing,” but the condiment is advertised as a mayonnaise substitute. And they’re both sort of right. It all comes down to semantics.

Miracle Whip was introduced by Kraft at the 1933 World’s Fair, in Chicago. It was marketed as a less expensive alternative to mayonnaise, and quickly grew wildly popular. Originally made by blending comparable ingredients for a classic mayo with boiled salad dressing (an emulsion of eggs, vinegar, and flavoring that’s cooked until thick), Miracle Whip was hawked to those struggling during the Depression as a way to make vegetables, fruit, and salads more flavorful for less money.

Officially, Miracle Whip must be called a “dressing” because it’s less than 65 percent vegetable oil, which is the official USDA standard for which condiments may be called “mayonnaise.”

What are the exact differences between Miracle Whip and mayo? Let’s compare: Hellmann’s "Real Mayonnaise" contains water, syobean oil, whole eggs and egg yolks, vinegar, salt, sugar, lemon juice concentrate, as well as calcium disodium EDTA (a preservative), and “natural flavors.”

Miracle Whip, on the other hand, has a longer ingredient list—though that’s not necessary a bad thing. The dressing contains water, soybean oil, vinegar, cornstarch, eggs, salt, mustard powder, paprika, and dried garlic in addition to high fructose corn syrup, potassium sorbate (a preservative), “spice,” and “natural flavor."

Ultimately, Miracle Whip relies a bit more on non-oil thickeners and emulsifiers like cornstarch and eggs to keep its texture, as well as more seasonings for its unique flavor. It does contain high fructose corn syrup as opposed to mayo’s sugar, but considering the suggested portion size for both is relatively small, it doesn’t really matter much in the long run. If you prefer to spread Miracle Whip on your breakfast sandwich, it’s mostly just up to your personal preferences.