We Aren't The Only Ones Wondering Why Mayo Is White

We go through life without questioning so many things. You've probably never wondered if the wasabi you very much like is even real (it probably isn't), or if the "healthy" cereal that you start your day with is actually unhealthy (newsflash: there's a good chance that it might be). Heck, we see that bottle of mayo in our refrigerator every day and never even think about why it's some shade of white when egg yolks are yellow. Beaten whole eggs aren't white, so why would something that's made mostly of eggs be entirely white?

Well, at least the legendary author Stephen King has wondered as much, and in turn, made us wonder. "Operating under the theory that the only stupid question is the one you don't ask (a postulate with which some may disagree), I pose this: Why is mayonnaise white?" King asked in a tweet that inspired a storm of discussion on the subject. "I think you broke the universe with that question," a user replied. King isn't the only one to pose this important question, though. Thankfully, the answer isn't elusive at all. Store-bought mayo is white because of the ingredients in it, as well as the method used to make it.

It all depends on where you get it from

In the great big question of why mayo is white, store-bought mayo is the common denominator. As many commenters pointed out (and proved with photos) homemade mayonnaise is often a much deeper yellow color than the store-bought concoction. There are several reasons store-bought is paler. As it turns out, most commercial mayonnaise doesn't have much egg in its products. For instance, Hellman's Real Mayonnaise has 8.9% egg and egg yolk. Another factor is the high oil content, which can be well over 70%. Since mass-produced mayonnaise is beaten and stirred to the point that it's more aerated than something you would make at home, the result is less-pigmented mayo with a thicker consistency. The oil in mayo also reflects light, giving it a whiter appearance. Most store-bought brands also include far more ingredients than home-made recipes, often including preservatives, which can affect the color of the final product.

Basically, the way mayonnaise is made has more to do with its color that the fact that it contains eggs. The reason why your homemade mayo isn't so white is that it's not as aerated and typically uses more eggs than mass-produced mayo. No matter where it comes from, Mayonnaise makes our lives a little more flavorful.