Random Food Fact #4 – Ketchup

Ketchup is the most popular condiment in America. It is found in 97% of kitchens and most people consume on average 3 bottles per year.

Interestingly, there is some sound reasoning behind the decision to consider Ketchup a vegetable. A mere 4 tablespoons provide nearly the same nutritional value as a medium tomato. Furthermore, very few packaged or bottled foods are preservative-free; Ketchup is an exception.

The best ketchup is only produced in summer, from the harvest of ripe tomatoes. In this regard, Ketchup is similar to wine in that the quality of the harvest affects the product. Thus, as for wine, there are good and bad Ketchup years.

Ketchup gained in popularity as a common condiment at the same time as hot dog and hamburger diners became popular, late 1800’s, early 1900’s. Such venues as Coney Island, with their food carts and public entertainment, played a significant role in bringing Ketchup into our everyday culture. Before this, it was used as a flavoring agent in meats, soups and sauces. The Heinz Company produced the first publicly available Ketchup bottle in 1876.

Last but certainly not least, the iconic puzzle: how to get the sauce to flow out when the bottle has been standing for a while? Tricks and myths abound, but did you know this one? Instead of tapping the bottom or side of the bottle as you shake the Ketchup out, tap the number “57” on the bottleneck. Superstition or odd fact? This, it seems, will have to remain an iconic debate.

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