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.
2. Tomatoes didn't make it into ketchup until the late 1800s, since most right-minded people considered it a poisonous cousin to nightshade.
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.
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.
5. "Heinz: it's automatic!"
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.
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.
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.
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.
10. Coal tar was originally used as dye to give Heinz its red color.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.