Let’s Settle Splatoon’s Mayo vs. Ketchup War, With Science

By Mike Fahey on at

Splatoon 2's first post-launch Splatfest kicks off tomorrow, and fans are passionately rallying for their favourite in the upcoming Mayo vs. Ketchup battle. Kotaku removes passion and common sense from the equation to try and determine a winner using the magic of snack science.

Warning: Snack science is rarely pretty, and often cruel. There are images in this article you can never unsee. They will haunt your nightmares. Food may never taste the same again.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of a Splatfest, it’s a contest in which players of the Nintendo Switch game Splatoon 2 are given a choice between two similar things. Players pick sides and fight multiplayer battles in that side’s name. At the end of the event, the side represented by the more attractive of two anthropomorphic sea creature women wins.

Using the power of snackology, the science of snacking, we are able to look past our primitive maritime lust. We conducted a series of highly scientific tests to determine, once and for all, which condiment reigns supreme.

The Condiment Combatants

In one corner we have ketchup, a table sauce made from tomatoes, vinegar and various spices. It's a mainstay on chips, burgers, hot dogs and all sorts of fried things. It’s also often used in recipes by people who couldn’t be bothered to just use a real tomato.

In the opposite corner is mayonnaise. Mayo is a stable emulsion of egg whites, vinegar and lemon juice. Its primary uses include sauce bases, making tuna fish less fishy, baking, sandwich topping and generally lubricating the digestive system. It bears mentioning that Japanese mayo is slightly different than Western mayo, utilising sweet vinegar (apple cider, rice) rather than distilled vinegar, so when the Japanese talk mayo, they aren’t talking Hellman’s.

Test One: Appearance

How we taste things is closely tied to how we see them, so for the first test we applied a metric dollop of both condiments to a decorative plate.

Ketchup: Glistening and deep red, as expected. Note that the various lumps created by the pouring spout have begun to merge with the rest of the tomato-y puddle. This is a condiment that is of one body.

Mayo: Observe the mayonnaise puddle. It is our scientific conclusion that it resembles an impressionist painting of a mother shielding her infant child from a very large bird dropping. You’ll see it.

Winner: Mayo, for artistic achievement.

A controversial conclusion, surely. Art and science do not regularly mix, but this is snack science, and snacks are art.

Test Two: Feel

If you’re going to judge a condiment, you must touch the condiment.

Ketchup: Wet. Slightly slimy. Oozing. The ketchup is translucent on the finger tip and easily dislodged.

Mayo: The worst moisturiser ever. Mayo applies to the finger in still peaks initially, but heat temperature causes it to settle shortly thereafter. Note the edges of the glob. The mayo clings to the skin, as if being absorbed into it like some creepy invasion of the body I AM MAYONNAISE. BOW BEFORE MY CHOLESTEROLIC MIGHT.

Winner: MAYONNAISE IS A FAIR RULER. KETCHUP MAY HAVE THIS ROUND.

NOW LEAVE US WHILE WE FERMENT.

Test Three: Amiibo Compatibility

Tapping Nintendo’s beautiful plastic Splatoon 2 statues to the Switch while playing the game unlocks all sorts of cool exclusive gear. What do they unlock when combined with the contested condiments?

Ketchup: Well that was a waste.

Mayo: And this just looks . . . ug.

Winner: Certainly not the Amiibo.

We figured nothing would come of this experiment, but we had to attempt it. Science is always doing stuff like this.

Test Four: We Are So, So Sorry

Perhaps you noticed the Oreo package in the image atop this post. We’d be remiss if we did not include the staple snack biscuit in this groundbreaking scientific study.

We begin with a pair of de-cremed Oreos.

Then we applied liberal dabs of both condiments.

Finally, we gazed upon what we had wrought, nodding in a very scientific, self-assured manner.

Ketchup: Well that just doesn’t look natural at all, does it?

Mayo: In a world where stiff “creme” is actually real “cream,” this is what an Oreo would look like.

Winner: Ha ha ha, you thought we were actually going to eat these. You should have seen the look on your faces.

Nobody really won here.

[He should have eaten the Oreos - ed.]

Final Test: Beard Presence

At the last moment, we realised that our testing process lacked a correlation to real-world occurrences. So we thought, “What happens every time you bite into a sandwich containing either ketchup or mayo?”

That’s right, you get it in your beard. Every single one of you gets it in your beard. It’s a universal constant. We looked it up and everything.

So we put ketchup and mustard in our finest beard. For science.

Ketchup: Since our test beard is a combination of gray, red and dark brown hairs, the ketchup is much less noticeable when liberally applied.

Of course, the colour of your own beard determines how obfuscated the sauce will be. Those with snowy white, bright blue or completely invisible and intangible beards might not see similar results.

Mayo: Much more noticeable on our test beard. On the plus side, mayo’s colour and texture means it can easily be passed off as a less inherently icky substance, like vanilla ice cream, queso cheese or at least two other things we’re thinking but not typing, because we care.

Winner: We supposed it all depends on your beard.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, and we did learn something about hygiene, so really everybody wins, don’t they?


Final Verdict

Tallying up the results of our testing, one test goes to mayonnaise, one to ketchup, and the three remaining we’re going to consider triumphs of science.

  • Ketchup: 1
  • Mayo: 1
  • Science: 3

And so the winner of our in-depth and very technical Splatoon 2 Ketchup Vs. Mayo experiment is the sweet science of snackology. Witness its power.

Good luck with the fight this weekend, squid kids.