It’s a long story. My cousin was over for dinner; we got to talking about mayonnaise. One thing led to another. The conversation got heated, and eventually we were shouting.
“Hellmann’s Mayonnaise is the best!” my cousin insisted.
“Nuh-uh!” yelled his wife, Julie, “It’s Kraft!”
“Gag me!” hollered my wife. “It’s Duke’s, or everyone pukes!”
It’s a wonder the police weren’t called.
The next day, my cousin and I found ourselves wandering local supermarkets, buying dozens of jars of mayonnaise, spending upwards of $100 on egg-yolk-based protein emulsions.
We are grown men, we have mortgages, careers, and quasi-decent automotive insurance. And our carts were full of mayo. Also, Budweiser.
When we got to the checkout lane, the cashier gave us a funny look. “You must REALLY like mayonnaise,” she said.
“We’re having a taste test,” we explained.
The cashier smiled at us in much the same way you might smile at someone who had just soiled their pants on purpose.
Soon, we were in my kitchen, engaging in a highly scientific, officiated mayonnaise taste comparison. The testing was conducted by seven judges:
My wife, my cousin Ed Lee, his wife Julie, me, our neighbor Jake, his wife Rena, and their 9-year-old daughter named Jordan.
It was a blind taste test. The way it worked was: Various condiment cups contained globules of unidentified mayonnaise. We tasted each brand. Then, using official scorecards, made from real legal pads, we rated each brand on a scale of 0 to 10.
We tasted a lot of mayonnaise, but I’ll hit the highlights.
Kroger Real Mayo ($2.99). This mayonnaise earned an average score of negative 6. “It tastes cheap,” said one judge. “Gross,” said another. And: “Are we eating furniture polish?”
Next: McCormick Mayonnaise ($3.98). This brand claims to be the number-one brand in Mexico. They manufacture their “mayonsea” with “real lime flavoring!” The judges’ comments were as follows: “Too tart.” “Yuck.” “Not impressed.” And lastly, “We need to pray for Mexico.”
Moving right along.
The next brand we tried was Trader Joe’s Vegan Mayo Spread & Dressing. Heaven only knows how many innocent vegans had to die to make this single jar of mayonnaise.
The vegan mayo cost $16.99 and was made from avocado oil, chickpea water, and the tears of Buddhist monks. “It tastes like underpants,” remarked the one judge.
Hellmann’s Organic Mayo ($4.98). “I wouldn’t use this to get oil stains off the driveway.”
Kraft ($3.99). Krap.
Trader Joe’s Organic Mayonnaise ($9.99). Trader Joe’s crafts its high-end mayo using organic expeller pressed soybean oil, pasteurized organic egg yolks, mustard seed, and unique spices to lend the formula a top-shelf taste. The 9-year-old spit up in the kitchen sink.
Whole Foods 365 Organic Mayo ($3.79). I had one taste. Imagine, if you will, eating a handful of “extra-hold” hair gel.
Kewpie Japanese Style Mayo ($9.99). “Hey, this is good,” said one judge. Which surprised us all inasmuch as Kewpie Mayo WAS pretty good. ￼
The general consensus was that the Japanese mayo was decent. Not too sweet. Not too tangy. The product is manufactured in Japan, which is yet one more example of something the Japanese do better than us Americans.
Blue Plate Mayonnaise ($3.98). Extra rich, extra creamy. Originally manufactured in Gretna, Louisiana, in 1927. The main ingredients are ultra simple: Egg yolks, vinegar, and Jesus.
And this stuff is delicious. “I don’t know why I don’t eat more Blue Plate,” said one judge. “This is my favorite,” said another. “I’d use this stuff in the shower,” remarked my cousin’s wife.
Miracle Whip ($4.12). It is neither a miracle, nor a whip. One judge remarked: “I’d rather eat a tube of Bengay.”
Hellmann’s Vegan Dressing and Spread ($5.15). Hellmann’s Vegan Dressing tastes like the first four letters of its namesake.
And finally, we come to the last brand of mayo. Duke’s Mayonnaise. Duke’s is a Southeastern thing. They can’t get it out West. The recipe has remained unchanged since Woodrow Wilson addressed Congress, urging for a declaration of war against Germany.
Ever since 1917, this mayo has been made the same way Eugenia Duke once prepared it in her humble South Carolina kitchen. Except, now her kitchen is now the width of six regulation-sized football fields and costs approximately 4 billion U.S. dollars.
There were no indications we were testing Duke’s mayonnaise. The condiment cup was unmarked, like the others. And yet we all knew. Each judge who tasted, smiled at each other. Because it was obvious. This was Duke’s.
“This is good mayo,” said the 9-year-old.
“I know which brand this is,” added another judge.
“This is the clear winner,” said another. “Why would anyone eat anything else?”
“I feel sorry for people in California,” someone said.
The majority agreed, Duke’s wins by a country mile.
No vegans were harmed in the making of this column.