As a child my family always ate Kraft Real Mayonnaise. Great on all those sandwiches especially those bacon, lettuce, and garden-fresh tomato ones. But, when I would go over to my friend Tim’s house, they had Miracle Whip Salad Dressing. Kraft, which invented Miracle Whip, got its start in the cheese business and decided to start selling mayonnaise in 1926.
The US government has strict requirements regarding just what makes mayonnaise, and Miracle Whip doesn’t meet those requirements. It may look like mayo, it might be sold alongside mayo, it might be used for the same purposes as mayo, but, in order to not violate US labeling laws, it is very clearly marked as a “salad dressing.” Premiering at the Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933, Miracle Whip soon became a success as a condiment for fruits, vegetables, and salads.
Miracle Whip was originally introduced in New England during the worst year of the Depression, but after eight weeks sales were high enough that the product, and promotions, went national. Within six months Miracle Whip was outselling all other brands of salad dressing and mayonnaise and has continued doing so ever since then.
According to Kraft archivist Becky Haglund Tousey, Kraft developed the product in-house, using a patented “emulsifying machine”, invented by Charles Chapman, to create a product that blended mayonnaise and less expensive salad dressing, sometimes called “boiled dressing” and “salad dressing spread”. The machine, dubbed “Miracle Whip” by Chapman, ensured that the ingredients, including more than 20 spices, were thoroughly blended.
Another story claims that Miracle Whip was invented in Salem, Illinois, at Max Crosset’s Cafe, where it was called “Max Crossett’s X-tra Fine Salad Dressing”, and that Crosset sold it to Kraft Foods in 1931 for $300 (equivalent to $5,100 in 2020). While stating that Kraft did buy many salad dressings, Tousey disputes the claim that X-tra Fine was Miracle Whip.
Miracle Whip is made from water, soybean oil, high-fructose corn syrup, vinegar, modified corn starch, eggs, salt, natural flavor, mustard flour, potassium sorbate, spice, and dried garlic. The original Miracle Whip is produced using less oil compared to traditional mayonnaise and thus has around half of the calories. Due to added corn syrup, it is also sweeter compared to mayonnaise.
- The main difference between Miracle Whip and mayonnaise comes down to the amount of oil that is used. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandates that mayonnaise must be at least 65% oil. Miracle Whip falls below that threshold, which is why it’s labeled as dressing instead of mayo.