This Fat Girl rant is going to be a little different than my Butter vs Margarine rant, mostly because while I loathe everything about margarine as a product, I’ve got absolutely nothing personal against Miracle Whip®. I DO loathe everything about PEOPLE who use MW (and its ilk) as an ‘unnoticeable’ substitute for mayonnaise.
I am ok with someone mistakenly thinking they are the same – until you ever flippin’ taste them. And if you are one of those poor souls that grew up in a house that only ever carried Miracle Whip, I pity you, but your parents ruined your taste buds and that’s not my fault. Heaven forbid you actually prefer MW in a mayonnaise-type application, like on a sammich or in egg/chicken/potato salad – if you do, consider this your fair warning that I don’t allow such thinking in my kitchen (though I make no claim on yours, so there is that).
Superficially, mayo and MW bear a striking resemblance to each other, and I get that. They are white-ish, creamy, packaged almost identically (which I think is a deliberately sneaky ploy by MW manufacturers to fool all right-thinking mayo-lovers into buying the wrong thing), and sit right next to each other on the grocery store shelf (yet another semi-clever ploy).
Taste-wise, though, they aren’t even on the same planet. Mayo is buttery-vinegary-ness, and MW is sweet-tangy-yogurt-ness. See how there’s absolutely no overlap in those flavor descriptions? Likewise, there ought to be no overlap in their usage in recipes.
I’m not going to lie and say I love MW just as much as mayo, but it does have uses. If I’m in the mood for coleslaw, or a fruit salad in a creamy dressing, odds are I will buy a small jar of MW for just such a purpose (or, more likely, wait until the next KFC trip/church potluck, where either/both of these dishes may make an appearance). And I would never try to just ‘sub out’ mayo for MW in these applications.
Conversely, don’t tell me (or print on your menu) that you’ll be using mayo and then just, willy-nilly, use MW. I will spit that crap right back into your face, and you’ll deserve it for being a big mean liar!
There are certain rules to awesome food, and while they can occasionally be bent, half the time doing so blows up in your face – big time. To my mind (and tongue), the sweetness of MW should never show up in classically savory dishes, like the aforementioned sammich, egg salad, potato salad, chicken salad, tuna salad. This isn’t anything personal against MW specifically, it’s against the sweet – I don’t use sweet relish or bread-and-butter pickles in these recipes either; that makes me an ethical flavor-biggot, since I’m uniform in my zealous exclusion of flavor profiles.
That being said, if you’re planning to go off the deep end and do some crazy stuff to your chicken salad, like add crushed pineapple and bits of candied pecans, then sure, MW might be better for you. Jason’s Deli makes just such a chicken salad, and Fat Hubby loves it. Me, well…
Mostly, I want this rant to serve as a PSA – mayo vs MW is a subject most people are unwittingly extremely opinionated about. As a result, you need to be clear about what diners/guests can expect from your kitchen. Being honest and open can not only help them work through some suppressed condiment aggression (trying new things does so many wonders), it can also seriously help keep your floors clean.