Friday, August 26, 2011

Don't Mess with the Heinz Ketchup

I really love ketchup. I know I'm not alone in this respect for a very American condiment. When I go abroad for long periods of time, the first thing I really seek out after getting settled in my neighborhood is a store that carries Heinz ketchup. I don't want no stinking Hunts. No Del Monte. It has to be Heinz, because Heinz is a real taste of home when you are, you know, really missing home.
But ketchup is more than a taste of home. Think of how many times you've been to a new restaurant you haven't tried before, and there are a bunch of trendy dishes on the menu. You're really hungry, and you know that there's quite a high probability of being disappointed with any number of these braised dishes served on a pile of mushy spinach with some mustard sauce Pollock'ed around the plate. But if you can order something that you don't think they'll screw up, say a burger or a sandwich, and if it comes with fries, then you're good to go. So long as they don't eff up the ketchup.
Today, I went to a restaurant that the bigger half and I frequent often, and I usually order something with fries, because I will not be disappointed with fries, and occasionally the fries are really good fries. But you can go horribly awry. And today, this restaurant did. Despite their pretty standard sandwich fare, I just really wanted some french fries and ketchup. My sandwich arrives, and it's ok. The fries look like they usually do. But what the hell just happened? What is in this red squeeze bottle? It's not my brand. It's not Heinz. The ketchup is altogether too sweet, and too vinegary. There's a funk to it. I don't think it's a made in house ketchup, which I can respect. No, this tastes like Hunts. I was so angry. My dinner was ruined.
Do you know how I felt? I realize this is a hissy fit, but why would you change a sure thing? Is the restaurant saving money by changing the standard ketchup brand? Are they trying to be different? Is the proprietor having a sudden urge to adopt the ways of many a Southern diner that I have visited in Florida and been equally as disappointed as a child in the absence of Heinz and the presence of another brand? I really haven't a clue, but I do know that I won't be going back to the restaurant unless a) they change their ketchup brand or b) I start smuggling packets from McDonalds with me everywhere I go.
::sigh:: What is the world coming to?

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