Even I’ve fallen prey to ketchup’s command. Growing up in the Midwest, I assumed ketchup was merely part of life, squirting it onto hot dogs and hamburgers like there was no other option. I don’t remember lapping it up, but I do recall consuming it, at least until 1st grade. That was when Brendon Allen started bringing ketchup-and-bologna sandwiches to school on the daily, filling the entire classroom with a gag-inducing, fetid odor, cloyingly sweet with layers of saliva-sucking salt. The poor schlub would sit there at his desk with a fistful of oozing white bread, bright red Heinz 57 stretched across his face like The Joker. That kind of vulgarity, you simply can’t unsee.
And it didn’t end there. Years later, I found myself charged with washing dishes in the school dining hall. My murky bin of rinse water was gnarly from the get, but as soon as that first ketchup-smeared plate entered the mix, I knew shit was about to get much, much worse. Have you ever smelled the smell of warm, wet ketchup water, that sickly combo of Bloody Mary mix and putrid apple cider vinegar, of rancid tomato sauce and vomit? Trust me, if you had, you’d hate that garbage, too.