Is There A Difference Between Kewpie Mayo And Regular?

If you've ever been to Japan, or are just a Japanese food aficionado, then you've likely sampled Kewpie mayonnaise, the Japanese-founded-and-manufactured mayonnaise that's been charming diners since 1925 (via the official website). An extra-rich, extra-eggy mayo, Kewpie has become a cult favorite in recent decades, and is now enjoyed by folks all over the world — whether used to crisp a grilled cheese sandwich, dolloped atop a poke bowl, or whisked into a Caesar dressing (via Bon Appétit). 

Chefs from Momofuku's David Chang to Primehouse's Dino Tsaknis have sung the condiment's praises (via Food & Wine) — so what makes Kewpie so special? Here's what sets this squeeze-tube spread apart from the stuff in the tub you might be used to.

Kewpie is extra-eggy

If you've ever whisked together a homemade mayo, then you know that this simple condiment usually contains just two main ingredients: whole eggs and a neutral oil such as grapeseed or canola (via Allrecipes). But according to Kewpie's official website, after founder Toichiro Nakashima discovered mayonnaise in the United States and decided to market his own version of the condiment in Japan, he decided to make an extra-rich, extra-eggy version using egg yolks only. 

The yolks give Kewpie mayo a darker color and extra richness that lends itself to a variety of dishes — not just sandwiches.

Kewpie uses a blend of vinegars

While many mayonnaise recipes, both homemade and commercial, call for plain old, one-note white vinegar, Kewpie mayo contains a mix of rice, red wine, apple cider, and distilled vinegars, which help cut through the richness of the eggy mayonnaise (via Bon Appétit). 

According to Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutrición (ALAN), the vinegar added to mayo also helps lower the pH of the mixture, helping preserve the condiment at room temperature even though it contains raw egg. 

Kewpie contains MSG

You've likely heard that MSG, or monosodium glutamate, in food can be responsible for a number of undesired effects ranging from headaches, to nausea, to numbness. Whatever the origin of this myth, it's been thoroughly debunked, according to the Mayo Clinic, leaving us free to enjoy moderate amounts of this umami-packed seasoning. 

Kewpie's not-so-secret ingredient is a big reason why chefs love working with the mayonnaise. As David Chang once told Food & Wine, "[Kewpie is] the best mayonnaise in the world, because it has MSG." (One important thing to note: per Bon Appétit, U.S.-manufactured versions of Kewpie omit this tasty ingredient, so try looking for the Asian-manufactured versions available in some Asian and specialty grocery stores.)

Kewpie comes in a squeeze bottle, not a jar

You're probably used to unscrewing a jar of mayo before swiping the spread across a sandwich, but Kewpie mayonnaise comes packaged in a sleek squeeze bottle that's as much about function as it is about form. 

According to the mayo's official website, Kewpie's distinctive squeeze bottle is designed to shut out as much oxygen as possible, keeping the mayonnaise fresh and preventing the oil in it from going rancid. Kewpie bottles also come with either a narrow tip for decorative squeezes, or a star-shaped tip for more generous applications of the rich condiment.

Kewpie offers different formulations for varying regional tastes

If you live in the United States and eat mayonnaise, you likely know that Hellman's, in the blue-capped jar, is the country's top-selling mayo — in fact, it's the number one brand of mayonnaise all over the world, reports Zippia. Curiously, in the U.S., this mayo all-star is marketed as Hellman's on the East Coast and Best Foods on the West Coast, the result of a 1932 merger of two condiment companies (via Insider). But though the mayo jars have different labels, their contents are exactly the same.

Kewpie, meanwhile, manufactures a wide array of mayos whose recipes actually vary according to the local market. As stated on the condiment's website, the brand has "developed various mayonnaise to suit the food culture and taste of each country." Slightly differing formulations of Kewpie are available in China, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, to name a few — plus the U.S. version that omits MSG for additive-avoidant consumers (via Chicago Tribune).