The Untold Truth Of Kewpie Mayonnaise

We might be most familiar with sushi, teriyaki, and tempura, but the truth is, Japanese food is more diverse than that. This diversity is reflected in the wide range of sauces on offer, from tonkatsu sauce (to go with battered and deep fried pork cutlets, chicken, and seafood; tsuyu (a soy sauce-based concentrate used for tempura): karashi (Japanese mustard); tare (another soy sauce-based dish for barbecue or grilled skewers (yakitori and kushiyaki)... and then there's Japanese mayonnaise (via Gurunavi).

Kewpie mayonnaise is so beloved in Japan that it's used in just about everything — as an accompaniment in savory dishes and even as a star ingredient in dessert. Popular cookbook author Makiko Itoh explains that the mayonnaise's positioning as an all-purpose condiment is the reason why it appears in so many dishes today (via Japan Times).

How does Kewpie mayonnaise taste?

Kewpie was invented in 1925 by Toichiro Nakashima, who first tried the egg-based condiment as a student in the U.S. But his version of mayonnaise was different from its American counterpart; instead of using whole eggs, he used double the amount of egg yolks; he sweetened the mayo with apple vinegar, and then added MSG — the seasoning that provides the umami in Japanese cooking. Kewpie stopped production during World War II but resumed in 1948.

What does Kewpie mayonnaise taste like? For a start, because only Japanese egg yolks are used, it's creamier; but is also and sweeter than American mayonnaise, thanks to the use of vinegars whose recipe is proprietary to the Japanese mayonnaise maker. The Takeout's Kevin Pang even compared the Japanese condiment to "a freshly whipped homemade batch of Miracle Whip." America has had its own version of Kewpie since 2017, when Kewpie's U.S.-based subsidiary began making its own mayonnaise (without MSG).

Regardless of where it is produced, Kewpie's container features the icon that gave the mayonnaise its name — the image of cartoonist Rosie O'Neill's distinctive baby with big googly eyes, which she called Kewpie (via Thrillist).