17 things you didn't know about Heinz Ketchup

Unlike the crowded field of hot sauce (which we definitively ranked right here), ketchup is essentially the Highlander of condiments: there can be only one. Heinz totally dominates the ketchup market, so we compiled 17 facts that will help you totally dominate any conversation on the subject.

Heinz packets

1. Heinz sells a whopping 11bil packets of ketchup a year, which is two packets for every person on the planet, and two billion packets for every person currently in space (six!).


2. Tomatoes didn't make it into ketchup until the late 1800s, since most right-minded people considered it a poisonous cousin to nightshade.

57 on the bottle

3. Tap the 57 on the bottleneck in order to make the ketchup pour more quickly. Apparently 11% of Americans already know this trick while the rest of us silently suffer from snail-like pouring speeds.

Ketchup explosion
Dover Code Enforcement Department

4. In 2012, bottles of red gold began exploding in a New Jersey warehouse. Turns out the culprits purchased regular Heinz, then re-bottled it fraudulently as the premium fructose-less Simply Heinz Ketchup for a 12.5% profit! Unfortunately, their plan was foiled by the fermentation of the sugars, which, when combined with heat, combusted and left them red-handed.

click to play video

5. "Heinz: it's automatic!"

Jackson Rathbone Heinz tattoo
Wendy Williams Show

6. Proving ketchup goes well on everything (including calves), Twilight star Jackson Rathbone scarred himself for life with this gigantic Heinz tattoo.

Ketchup container

7. Malcolm Gladwell's excellent 2004 New Yorker article notes that Heinz effectively dominated the ketchup market by focusing on all five of the condiment's flavor attributes. Previously just a salty and bitter sauce, Heinz increased umami with a thicker consistency of ripe tomatoes, upped the sourness with acidity from concentrated vinegar, and used benzoate preservatives to double the sweetness, thus making consumers powerless to resist the five-flavor assault.

Vine-riped tomatoes

8. You might imagine Heinz buys a ton of tomatoes every year, but that's not accurate. They buy two million tons of tomatoes every year.

John Wilkes Booth marker
Flickr/Tim Evanson

9. The main ketchup plant (like factory, not tomato) is in Fremont, Ohio, whose most famous native son is Everton Conger, known for ketching Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth.

coal tar

10. Coal tar was originally used as dye to give Heinz its red color.

fish sauce

11. Today's ketchup is a much-removed ancestor of Asian ke-tchup, which was a fish sauce made of fermented intestines, stomach, and bladder.

ketchup tub

12. The speed at which ketchup pours from a glass bottle is 0.0450km/hour, which is also the approximate speed of a garden snail.

Heinz Field
Joey Gannon/Wikipedia

13. Heinz Field is home to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pitt Panthers. To honor Pittsburgh's metalworkers, the facility features 12,000 tons of steel in the design. To honor the locally based Heinz company, they serve a whole lot of ketchup.

click to play video

14. Heinz is leaving all other ketchup brands in the dust (they'll never catch up!) by pioneering an augmented reality technology called Blippar, which allows them to deliver recipe tips via smartphone.

57 ad
Frugal Cafe Blog Zone

15. Heinz sold more than 57 varieties of products when it first branded itself. The number was chosen because the founder considered it lucky, and because he just never gave himself enough credit.

John Heinz and Teresa Heinz
Wikipedia and John Heinz Legacy

16. The heirs of the Heinz fortune often cross over into politics, with John Heinz serving as the Republican senator of Pennsylvania and Teresa Heinz serving as John Kerry's wife.

mystery colored ketchup
Miami New Times

17. Heinz introduced kid-friendly colored ketchups (green! purple!) in 2000, then put back on their big-person pants in 2006 and discontinued the new colors.