When you think condiments, chances are you don't think controversy. Ketchup, mayo, mustard: unlike hot button political issues, sandwich spreads don't really have a reputation for being divisive, although there's one colossal exception: Miracle Whip.
In 2009, Kraft (Miracle Whip's parent company) launched an ad campaign that set out to make the goopy white condiment appear cool, even counterculture. If you managed to miss this shining moment in America's cultural history, you can only fully grasp it by watching one of the commercials. (Warning: hipsters dancing on roofs.)
But what exactly IS Miracle Whip? And why does it elicit such passionate opinions?
In 1933, Miracle Whip debuted at the Chicago World's Fair with the tagline, "Salad Miracles with Miracle Whip Salad Dressing." That's right, Miracle Whip broke out onto the American food scene as a spoonable salad dressing. And since that fateful day, people have been debating its merits. Some love its "tangy" flavor, others profess to hate its "cloying" taste. (Miracle Whip contains sugar -- and, until very recently, high fructose corn syrup.)
Often, the debate is framed as a showdown between Miracle Whip and mayonnaise. After all, both condiments are used on sandwiches and in potato and macaroni salads. But the Miracle Whip brand itself is pretty adamant that it is its own entity, darn it. According to its website and (yes) Facebook page, "Miracle Whip is sorta-kinda-not-really-like-mayo, but multiplied by awesomeness. You see, we've got this bold, tangy flavor that is unlike anything you've ever tasted. It's known for kicking sandwiches and salads up a notch. We're not for everyone. Are you Miracle Whip?"
Did you hear that? The implication, of course, is that if you don't like this particular mass-produced ... food, you're not hanging with the right crowd, man. As Heidi Klum on Project Runway would say, "You're eader in, or you're out."
Recently, Kraft has taken notice of Miracle Whip's polarizing qualities. In a new campaign eerily similar to Marmite's, the company portrays couples divided on the direly important issue of what to put on their sandwich.
Either millions of people find Miracle Whip to be delicious on their own accord, or maybe these ads are working. According to Kraft, Miracle Whip is currently among the grocery industry's 20 top-selling brands.
So, what's your take? Is Miracle Whip a staple on your grocery list? Or would you throw a fit if you found it lurking in your fridge? Let us know in the comments.
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