Miracle Whip is a condiment created by Kraft Foods that was developed as a less expensive alternative to mayonnaise. To win acceptance it was bolstered by Kraft’s extensive advertising campaign, which included sponsorship of a series of two-hour radio programs. Miracle Whip soon outsold all mayonnaise brands and by 1950 Ed Herlihy’s voice of “cheer and cheese” introduced Americans to the “Kraft Television Theater” with commercials promoting ‘Good food and good food ideas.’ He remained the voice of Kraft Foods for forty years, and for those of you who can remember the Universal Newsreels we saw at the Palace theater, he was that voice as well. Little did I know the controversy I would uncover in researching this recipe – what fun! Read on to find out more.
Miracle Whip was initially made from water, soybean oil, high-fructose corn syrup, vinegar, modified corn starch, eggs, salt, natural flavor, mustard flour, potassium sorbate, spices, and dried garlic which made it sweeter than mayonnaise. During the depression, many cooks had realized they could save money by mixing eggs, vinegar, and oil to make their own mayonnaise, but it was Kraft’s Miracle Whip which caused manufactured mayonnaise sales to plummet. Miracle Whip was introduced at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933.
Kraft created this recipe for a chocolate cake during the Second World War when many foods were rationed whether they needed to be or not. FDR’s Office of Price Administration (OPA) began issuing ration cards in May 1942 and rationing affected almost every consumer product in the USA, including jams, jellies, lard, and shortening. It was the patriotic thing to do, and Miracle Whip gained even more acceptance by the American public by joining the cause.
It may be considered a bit strange, but today major stores like Target, particularly in states like CA, NY and VA have stopped carrying Miracle Whip. The reasons are unclear, but it may have something to do with consumers becoming more aware of product ingredients. Companies like Kraft have announced potential product cuts of up to 20% in their Jell-O and Velveeta lines this year. Perhaps some finally figured out that as a lower fat alternative to mayonnaise, Miracle Whip isn’t necessarily healthier. While it contains just 40 calories per tablespoon, it does have 3.5 grams of total fat. For you Miracle Whip lovers, don’t despair, it is an excellent source of vitamin K which helps transport calcium to one’s bones. It also helps blood clot properly and has shown signs of fighting Alzheimer’s disease.
Already back in 2006 Kraft Foods began responding to consumer health concerns. They removed the soy oil from Miracle Whip which essentially shortened its shelf life. While changes can be for the positive, some of these corporate decisions are causing panic for cooks as they affect recipes that have been made for decades. The Miracle Whip Chocolate cake may be one of these. Measures may have been taken by Kraft, and other companies, to avoid growing criticism of product ingredients, and many of the products we once knew are no longer the same. In 2006, Kraft replaced the soy oil in Miracle Whip with water. That must not have gone well because by 2009 soy oil was back. Remember the new Coke? That was a disaster.
Meanwhile, green advocates are arguing that Miracle Whip is made with less-than wholesome ingredients almost all grown and produced in ways that put people, animals, and the planet at risk. We cannot have that! Moreover, the soybean oil and the sugar from beets are suspected of being genetically modified. We cannot have that either! Some consumers, others argue, are being kept in the dark about what they are eating. Gone are the days of pastures, barns, field crops, and farm animals. Ninety percent of eggs sold in grocery are produced by “imprisoned” chickens. Kraft is accused of sourcing eggs from farms that are not properly animal welfare certified. The future appears to be almost as bleak as the first days of WWII.
Kraft has not taken all this criticism lying down however, they went so far as to accuse arch-rival Hellmann’s Mayonnaise of “lying” to customers, about what you might ask? Hellman’s isn’t the only mayonnaise on the market – Kraft has one too! Oh, the drama in the mayonnaise world. There’s a reason all of this isn’t making headline news of course, as I have often pointed out, we are loyal to the brands our parents kept in the fridge, and because this stuff never, ever seems to go moldy, we tend not to change brands. Those brands we grew up with still have lots of loyalty. Maybe Case and I should “stir up” some drama in the jelly and sauce industry – or at least keep that tactic in our back pocket for a future marketing strategy.
As for our recipe this week, the Miracle Whip Chocolate Cake became very popular during WWII when shortening and eggs were scarce. It was moist and delicious, and proved again just how innovative Americans were during the ‘war effort.’ Nimitz would have been proud. Many thought it a ‘healthier’ substitute to mayonnaise. It wasn’t but amazingly, the recipe for Miracle Whip Chocolate Cake has remained one of the most requested recipes for the last 75 years. I remember it well. Perhaps, that is why we often wish for a return to the good old days.
1 cup Miracle Whip™ Salad Dressing – do not substitute real mayonnaise.
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
4 tbsp coco
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 cup cold water
1 tsp vanilla
1 Dash of salt
Blend all ingredients.
Divide between 2 8-inch round cake pans.
Bake at 350ºF for 25-30 minutes.
Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing.
Cool on wire racks.
8 oz pkg Philadelphia cream cheese. (softened)
1 tbsp whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 dash salt
5 cups sifted powdered sugar.
3-1 oz square of unsweetened chocolate, melted.