Grumpy about ketchup

Why is ketchup still red? How come no one is trying to fix this vexing issue?

Someone invented Color Wonder pens, thus illustrating the amazing things corporations can accomplish when left alone to express their first amendment rights fully. Toddlers can now trash mama’s living room walls without leaving a single visible mark. That sort of anti-authoritarian behavior is incredibly liberating, just the sort of untrammeled individual expression that will help build the next generation of hard-working capitalists — and at no cost to the family’s interior paint budget.

Last month Anthony and I were relaxing at a local bar when we discovered clear bourbon. Yes, I said that: clear bourbon. Fact is, it tasted like something I’d use to strip a finish off wood, but it was clear bourbon. They should do that to ketchup. Everyone always says kids don’t care about what food looks or tastes like as long as it’s salty and sweet, so just make that condiment clear and add some sodium and sugar and call it ketchup. You can rest assured moms will buy it. Because ketchup stains.

I find the problem especially nettlesome when we reach the dregs of a bottle of ketchup. Jesse gives that bottle a mighty squeeze and the ensuing squirt practically aerosolizes the ketchup, spraying little droplets all over the table and wall and Jesse, like a blood spatter pattern from a head shot. It takes weeks before I find all the marks, and frequently her clothes are permanently stained. I wish she liked to wear red as much as she loves ketchup.

Ronald Reagan made ketchup into a vegetable. I think Heinz can usher in the next evolution by making ketchup into an invisible, non-staining vegetable. If they’re worried that people will freak out, they can offer two different products. There are already two ways to spell ketchup, so it’s just a matter of rebranding. Ketchup is clear, catsup is red. Easy peezy.

It’s easy to blame the tomatoes for the red, staining quality of ketchup, but that would be a feint. Earth-grown inputs don’t really matter that much in highly processed food-like products. Pure white marshmallows have food dyes in them. Why can’t manufacturers add some food dyes and make ketchup white too, or better yet, invisible? Just leave the tomatoes out, if that’s what it takes. After all, they make fruit snacks and fruit roll-ups without using any fruit. “Ketchup” doesn’t even have the word tomato in it, so who would miss the tomatoes?

I once had a Paleo neighbor who would go off on me about how she can make ketchup that’s consistent with the Paleo diet. It was apparently life-changing. She told me about it at least 6 different times, probably more. It was one of the things that really set me off about the Paleo craze. Why was this woman going on and on about KETCHUP? But now I see it a new way: if Paleo-phyles can make ketchup – which means they made it out of what, eggs, grass-fed beef, kale, and avocado – then surely Heinz can make clear ketchup.

Check out Heinz’s Innovation page. Whoa! There is some serious shit going down at Heinz. “Turning packaging expectations upside down—as we did literally with our Top-Down™ ketchup bottle—is a Heinz tradition. But dreaming up new ideas to make it easier to enjoy our products is just the beginning.”

I’ll tell you what, Heinz. If you could turn a bottle upside down — literally — you can make ketchup that doesn’t stain! Go for it, large corporate entity! GMO and blue dye #1 that shit. Give me ketchup that doesn’t stain my kids’ ETSY-purchased fair trade organic locally grown sustainable natural bamboo fiber wardrobe.

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