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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Adventures in Ketchup

When I was a kid I was taught that ketchup and catsup were different. I have since learned they are the same. But when President Ronald Reagan declared that ketchup was a vegetable, all the companies that used to sell “catsup” were left out of the school contracts and almost went out of business. Since then, everyone switched over to the name of “ketchup”.

You may not know that ketchup originally came from China. It was a pickled fish sauce they called “ketsiup” back in the 1600’s. Later in America, someone took the waste products from canning tomatoes, threw in some vinegar and lots of sugar, and sold it in jars. The guy who did this made a nice little fortune with this condiment so soon others followed. Hundreds of different companies produced their own variety of ketchup, often throwing in a bunch leftover food scraps (which at times were rotten) and then sold it as ketchup. Eventually Mr. Heinz, who was mostly known for pickles, got in the ketchup game and standardized his recipe (which the others did not) and only used fresh products. His ketchup survived, probably due to providing more of a consistent product and quality product. The recipe he started way back in the 1800’s is the same recipe we enjoy today.

You may remember a few years ago when Heinz introduced a different color of ketchup on the supermarket shelves. This ketchup was only available for a limited time and it was a lovely deep green. Naturally, I bought some and introduced it to the fam. I got dirty looks and lots of whining. I saw it as a creative adventure in dining and the opportunity to dress up french fries or hamburgers with a new outfit. The kids did not see it this way. They rebelled and won the battle. The ketchup was discarded to the round file (garbage can). Sigh. Another dining adventure cast aside that was way before its time.

So there you have some additional poop about ketchup....just in time for your weekend.