“I eat so much mayonnaise they were going to send me to the Mayo Clinic.” — Tom Robbins
Goal: To conduct a highly scientific taste test involving three different brands of mayonnaise, including Hellmann’s, Duke’s and Kewpie. Miracle Whip will not be considered since, by its own admission, Miracle Whip is a mayo combined with “tangy dressing.” Also, Miracle Whip is terrible.
Method: The three mayos will each be generously slathered on three toasted tomato sandwiches. Each sandwich will be made with brandywine and Cherokee purple heirloom tomatoes; English toasting bread; freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper; and Himalayan pink salt. In addition, 1 Tsp of each mayo will be presented on plastic spoons so it may be consumed without the influence of another ingredient. The mayos will be assessed for flavor, texture, color, spreadability and joy quotient.
Participants: Tara Paule Kaprowy, William Michael Baker and someone we’ll anonymously call The Business Partner.
Location: the back deck in order to social distance and in the event of extra-juicy tomatoes
Time: 8 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Temperature: 82 degrees. Humidity: 100 percent ridiculous. Global pandemic: ongoing. Time on our hands: lots.
Reason: On Aug. 3, 2020, in a response to a tweet by @ThatSchoolcraft, @KyGavelBanger stated that Duke’s mayo was so superior to Hellmann’s that one taste would result in any sane person trashing the Hellmann’s immediately. None of the participants had heard of Duke’s before. TPK had heard of Kewpie because Chef David Chang had mentioned it on Instagram and the word “kewpie” will stick with a person. Still, none of the participants had ever considered straying from Hellmann’s.
Interesting Sociological Observation: Social media, which is tasteless, is entirely to blame for this food experiment.
Difficult to control variable No. 1: Duke’s mayonnaise was sold off the shelves everywhere in Somerset, Ky., which required it to be flown in via Amazon. Possibility for bias because of high demand.
Difficult to control variable No. 2: TPK has a lifelong affinity for Hellmann’s mayo, one so strong she has, at times, called it her “beloved.” WMB likewise likes Hellmann’s, often feeling compelled to spread it over both pieces of bread in his sandwich, even if it’s roast beef and even though we all know roast beef sandwiches are better with mustard.
- Kewpie: The silkiest texture of the three and the prettiest color, leaning toward butter-yellow. This mayo exclusively uses egg yolks, which may account for its silky texture and pleasing shade. It is also made with rice vinegar, giving it a distinctive Asian flavor. Once spread over the toast, it was absorbed by the bread rather than laying atop of it, which, both in terms of mouthfeel and flavor, was not ideal for providing the important mayo-tomato contrast. Highest calorie count (110 cals per 1 Tbsp) and highest salt content (105 mg per 1 Tbsp) of the three. The branding on the bottle suggests combining Kewpie with ketchup, mustard or sriracha, which is an experiment worth considering. Joy factor: 7/10
- Duke’s: Second-place for silky texture (this mayo also only uses egg yolks). The mixture was the color of heavy whipping cream. Cider vinegar is used here, which provides an extremely pleasing tang. Paprika adds additional intrigue. Spreadability is perfect, smearing smoothly but thick enough to coat the toast with a pleasing layer. Places second of the three mayos for calorie count at 100 cals per 1 Tbsp. Salt content is the lowest of the three at 70 mg per 1 Tbsp. Duke’s is only mayo of the three that does not contain sugar. All three participants consumed all of the Duke’s on their disposable spoons. Joy factor: 9/10
- Hellmann’s: Bone-white color and clumpy texture when compared to other two mayos — mixture does contain eggs whites as well as yolks. Mixture sits extremely nicely on toast. Two participants noted it tasted salty: it contains 90 mg of sodium per 1 Tbsp. Hellmann’s contains 90 calories per 1 Tbsp, earning it the lowest calorie count. It is made with distilled vinegar, which does not lend it the depth of flavor that the other two mayos have. Joy factor: 6/10
- Duke’s was deemed the superior mayo by WMB and TPK. The Business Partner preferred Kewpie. With two out of the three participants in agreement, Duke’s comes out on top of the taste test.
- TPK still feels nostalgia toward Hellmann’s and all of the years it’s dutifully been a part of her fridge family. As such, she will not be tossing her jar of Hellmann’s and will commit to using the rest of its contents. WMB would not abide by the waste involved in trashing “perfectly good food” anyway.
- WMB, TPK and The Business Partner all feel awakened. None of the three will be buying Hellmann’s again.
- As for Kewpie, TPK found the flavor of the rice vinegar ultimately distracting on a toasted tomato sandwich but will experiment with other dishes. It’s likely she won’t buy it again either, however.
Final thought: There is a reason why Duke’s mayonnaise is sold out in Somerset, Ky.