I eat a lot of ketchup. Like, a LOT of ketchup. In my high school yearbook staff picture, I am posing with a ketchup bottle. If you are my Facebook friend or found me through FoodBuzz, you’ve probably already seen this “about me” quote:
“The classic struggle of man versus ketchup!” -Reno 911
(It came from TV. Of course.)
As a result, I am somewhat of a ketchup savant. My ketchup of choice is Heinz. I can taste a ketchup and KNOW if it’s not Heinz. Like, at those weird diners where the ketchup is served in generic bottles. And I remember thinking that ketchup in Europe didn’t taste sweet enough.
There is a famous restaurant in LA called Umami Burger. People go NUTS over their burgers. For some reason, it makes me sick. Like, stomach revolt. (My co-worker says it’s the Korean spices?) But the reason I bring up Umami is that they make their own gourmet ketchup. I was so excited to try it, but my main impression was that it tasted kinda fishy, or vinegary.
And I have tried organic ketchup before, and wasn’t a fan. (It’s a different shade of red. A freaky shade.)
My industrial-sized bottle of ketchup finally ran out, so I headed to Von’s for a replacement. I noticed that Heinz had a new offering on the shelf: Simply Ketchup. Intrigued, I compared the ingredients in Simply Ketchup to the ingredients in regular ol’ Heinz. Can you spot the difference?
Here’s a hint: Simply Heinz doesn’t use corn syrup.
Until recently, I wasn’t aware that corn syrup is basically an American problem, introduced in the 1980s-ish because… cheapness. Big Corn. Whatever. It’s making people fat. And it’s why nothing tasted sweet enough, in Europe. (Except gelato in Italy. That was perfect. And chocolates in… everywhere. American chocolate is waxy.)
So I got on my righteous high-horse and bought Simply Ketchup. I took it home and poured some over my Baked Ruffles. (One of my favorite snacks. Don’t judge!) You can probably guess what happened next.
The ketchup didn’t taste right! It tasted like… vinegar, I guess. It kind of stung my tongue. (That’s a fun phrase to say out loud.)
The corn syrup is what makes the ketchup sweet. Without it, it’s… you know, savory or something. Maybe it’s umami, in the tastebud sense.
I am going to try to get on the Simply Heinz bandwagon. Because… I don’t want corn syrup to rule my life, dammit! This is how ketchup is SUPPOSED to taste. This is how Don Draper’s ketchup tasted. This is authentic, old-fashioned, pre-corn syrup ketchup. (I think?)
But it’s good to know that there’s still Normal Ketchup in the office kitchen. And… everywhere else, for that matter.