Cream of the crop: Kewpie mayonnaise big in the U.S.

Cream of the crop: Kewpie mayonnaise big in the U.S.

J-Cast reports that the American Amazon.com is selling tons and tons of this beloved doll-faced Japanese mayonnaise
Kewpie mayonnaise
A bottle of squeezable Kewpie mayonnaise stands in front of its American spread rival Hellmann's. (Photo by Flickr user richardmasoner)

J-Cast alerts us to the growing popularity of a new Japanese cultural export in the United States: Kewpie Mayonnaise. Apparently, the Japanese condiment has hit #1 in sales on Amazon.com's mayonnaise section. Eat that, Miracle Whip.

According to J-Cast, Kewpie was originally brought to market in 1925 and now commands 60 percent of the Japanese domestic market. So don't be fooled by the innocent little Kewpie baby: This mayonnaise commands serious monopoly power.

Meanwhile in the United States, Kewpie is growing as a cult favorite amongst foodies. J-Cast seems especially proud that Amazon buyers almost all give it five stars in the customer ranking section.

What's the secret to Japanese mayonnaise? The New York Times claims it stems from two things: the use of rice vinegar and the presence of MSG. That latter ingredient may sound suspicious, but after all the panic and hype in the 1970s, most scientific studies have found that MSG is actually quite harmless. Do you really think that cute Kewpie doll would try to kill you?

Kewpie mayonnaise's popularity is not limited to the U.S., however. J-Cast mentions that Kewpie has factories in China and Malaysia supplying the heavy demand on the continent. As the article states, "[Kewpie] is said to be popular with the affluent in East Asia." Kewpie may be just a condiment in Japan, but in Asia, it's a status symbol. Is there anything this little eggy sauce can't do?

W. David Marx was CNNGo's initial Tokyo City Editor. His writing has also appeared in magazines such as GQ, Brutus, Weekly Diamond, and Nylon, as well as his web joural Néojaponisme.

Read more about W. David Marx