Ketchup Is a Garbage Condiment and You're a Moron if You Use It

ketchup explosion
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist
Editor's Note: The strong opinions expressed in this story do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Thrillist. It is merely the author's stance, though having read this disclaimer, it is also now your stance, legally speaking. Kidding! You are now within your right to (politely) question the author's sanity.

Ketchup is awful. That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact. Remember that horrible little ginger kid from Problem Child, the tiny sociopath hiding behind a saccharine smile and stupid red bowtie? That’s ketchup, America’s snotty-nosed baby bro, beaming away while he tortures cats and shoves dirty sweat socks into his grandfather’s mouth. And for some godforsaken reason, America just can’t get enough of it.

Ketchup is a beastly condiment, squashing beautiful flavors with the indiscriminate brutality of Ramsay Bolton.

We are a nation obsessed, just ask Stephen Colbert. Recently, the late-night host’s hidden Colbert Condiment Cam captured GOP Convention goers sweating it out in an 120 minute line all for a few measly burger-topping pumps. Then, as if it couldn't get any worse, the comedic genius’ DNC cam caught a mysterious Democratic delegate gruesomely tossing back ketchup shots like some 7th grader on a lunchroom dare. Have we, as a people, lost our manners, our decency, our minds? These are grown men and women, for crying out loud, our elected leaders sporting firetruck-hued stains on their lapels like American flag pins. Emails-schmemails -- turns out the real crooked pols are squirting sticky red streaks from from both sides of the aisle.

Ketchup is hands down the beastliest of all condiments, squashing beautiful flavors with the indiscriminate brutality of Ramsay Bolton. It has no regard for harmony, no respect for the craft of cooking, the love and care that goes into preparing every subtle note, every delicate detail. And to add insult to injury, those who enjoy it tend to hose down their dinner plates like they’re putting out a fire. Slather ketchup on a cheeseburger and it’s practically impossible to spot the difference between Daniel Boulud’s $140 Royale Double Truffle Burger and a day-old White Castle Slider. The only thing worse than ordering a nice piece of steak well-done? Asking for a side of ketchup with it. It’s a chef’s bloody nightmare.

I’m not saying mayo and mustard are the picture of health, but ketchup truly phones it in.

Also, it’s flat-out terrible for you. I’m not saying mayo and mustard are the picture of health, but ketchup truly phones it in. Most name-brand varieties are loaded with not one but two different types of GMO-derived high fructose corn syrups, contain a negligible amount of actual tomato paste, and are bursting with enough sodium to kill a hamster (an untested theory, but I’d put $5 on it). Sure, the label might claim a single serving weighs in at mere 20 calories, but how often does a ketchup head hang up the bottle after just one tablespoon? It’s so comically unhealthy that when President Reagan tried to classify ketchup as a vegetable in order to cut school lunch costs, Republican Senator John Heinz, (yes, that Heinz), famously called the idea “one of the most ridiculous regulations I ever heard of” -- and that’s from a guy who probably had ketchup in his baby bottle.

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.

Even street-food connoisseur Anthony Bourdain has a few words for the ketchup-minded.

Speaking of righteous condiment crusaders, I’ve got some heavy hitters in my corner. Louis’ Lunch, the century old Connecticut institution that reputedly invented the hamburger, famously bans the sludge and threatens to 86 anyone who dares B.Y.O.K. for LIFE. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (this is a real thing that exists) goes as far as to deem dressing a dog with ketchup completely unacceptable over the age of 18. Can’t imagine a pup without the ‘chup? Just ask any self-respecting Chicagoan -- they’ll set you straight. Even street-food connoisseur Anthony Bourdain has a few words for the ketchup-minded. “Do not put ketchup on your hot dogs,” he warned viewers in the Chicago episode of Travel Channel’s The Layover. “Be assured God doesn't want you to do that." These are my people: the few, the proud, the ketchup-less.

As the late Pulitzer Prize-winner Mike Royko once said, "if someone wants to put ketchup on a hot dog and actually eat the awful thing, that is their right. It is also their right to put mayo or chocolate syrup or toenail clippings or cat hair on a hot dog. Sure, it would be disgusting and perverted, and they would be shaming themselves and their loved ones. But under our system of government, it is their right to be barbarians." So, to all you bottle-squeezing sheeple out there, if you want to ruin your food, be my guest -- it’s a free country after all. Just be careful not to end up on the wrong side of history.

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Meredith Heil is a staff writer for Thrillist. Six-deuce every time, she never had the Heinz. Try to ketchup at @mereditto.