🍅 — are all those materials worth 0.32 ounces of fry dip?
December 5, 2019 12:37 PM   Subscribe

I’m Upset: Do not give me ketchup packets [The Outline] “Plastic cutlery, straws, napkins — these accompaniments are assumed to be necessary for eating a delivered meal. But when you don’t end up using these items, they pile up, leaving you with a collection of utensils and single-serving condiments that’s one motivated chore day from being actual trash. One member of this collection is more bothersome than the rest, however: the ketchup packet. At the moment, I have three ketchup packets nestled in a bowl, containing pens and other items on my kitchen table. Will I ever use them? No, because they’re aggravating and useless. The alleged purpose of a ketchup packet is to complement fries or whatever else you ordered that might be close enough to a food that goes well with ketchup. I am brave enough to say it: the ketchup packet is gross. [...] In addition to being annoying, ketchup packets are unsustainable —”

• What's the Shelf Life of a Ketchup Packet? [How Stuff Works]
“...think about whose car you'd rather be in if, say, you ran out gas in the Mojave Desert. The car that might sustain life for a few weeks from stale french fries and ketchup packets (and other interesting edibles) or the one that's spick-and-span clean? Exactly. Unfortunately, even survivalists know that, despite being impermeable to light, air and moisture, the contents of those ketchup packets won't last forever. There's no "sell by" date on individual packets — that's listed on the big box the packets come in. And besides, "sell by" and "use by" are very different. So just how long do ketchup packets last? Kraft Heinz spokesperson Lynne Galia says you don't have to refrigerate ketchup packets because they are a shelf stable product. "They have a shelf life of about 9 months," she says via email.”
• Biodegradable packaging: Are seaweed ketchup packets the future? A restaurant owner puts them on trial [Evening Standard]
“Over eight weeks, 10 London restaurants replaced approximately 40,000 plastic sauce sachets with the biodegradable Ooho! Seaweed-based alternatives as part of an initiative between Just Eat and Skipping Rocks Lab. [...] It was literally all new, everything about it was completely different. “Initially, when I first saw and touched the sachets, I was dubious. They feel and look different to normal sachets, which spend a lot of time and investment in how they look and are quite polished. But once you get past that, and realise it works. You have to do a bit more work in terms of what you have to manage, so you have to rotate the stock and so forth. But the customers loved it. I was quite shocked.””
• Chrissy Teigen, World's Best Mom, Bought 2,000 Ketchup Packets For Luna’s Lunches [Delish]
“The most illuminating part of the thread, though, came when Chrissy said Luna dunks her cucumbers in ketchup. Now, as someone who grew up dunking just about everything in ketchup, I am still surprised by this combo. But, hey! Whatever floats cute lil Luna's boat. To keep up with the condiment demand, Chrissy purchases her ketchup packets in bulk, like a normal, grocery-shopping mom. We can only assume the "2,000" at the end of her tweet refers to the number of ketchup packets purchased at once, and an Amazon search shows us that yes, you can buy 1,000 single-serve Heinz packets at once for a surprisingly low cost of $61. Add two to your cart and you're basically a Legend.”
• Ask The Salty Waitress: Can I take the extra condiment packets from restaurants? [The Takeout]
“Restaurants don’t make you pay a la carte for coffee creamer cups or syrup or whatever because they’re considered part of the meal. So go ahead and take them home—within reason. If you didn’t open the little syrup bottle, I highly doubt a police offer is going to slap handcuffs on you the minute you drop it in your bag. Ditto an individual jar of ketchup. But if I start to see you stuffing 10 packets of jam, four syrups, the entire butter dish, and the napkins into your fanny pack, well, I might pipe up. We’d all like to reduce waste, and if you’re jazzed about using a mini bottle of the Cracker Barrel syrup later, I don’t see why anyone would stop you. ”
posted by Fizz (75 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm gonna take this opportunity to register my pure, seething hatred for tiny little paper packets of salt and pepper that are perforated at one end. I understand the necessity for them if someone asks for salt and pepper...to go? But I do not believe that such a thing has ever, ever happened. And if I'm eating in the restaurant put some actual goddamn salt and pepper shakers on each table you cheap bastards. I intend to over-season the hell out of this food, and your tiny little rectangles are slowing me down!
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:44 PM on December 5, 2019 [11 favorites]


Let's just skip to the end here and ban ketchup outright.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 12:50 PM on December 5, 2019 [21 favorites]


I understand the necessity for them if someone asks for salt and pepper...to go? But I do not believe that such a thing has ever, ever happened.

I do this all the time? Like I don't find McDonald's fries or hashbrowns sufficiently salty (shut up) and I don't want to take everything out of the bag and season it there and then have to put it back so I grab a couple of packets of salt to bring back to my home or office where I can overseason my food in peace.
posted by an octopus IRL at 12:52 PM on December 5, 2019 [30 favorites]


Those little salt packets were so incredibly useful when I lost my voice recently.

And I do use the little ketchup packets, in fact, I sometimes run out because I don't get fast food often enough to restock considering the number of people sneaking ketchup out of my desk.
posted by betweenthebars at 12:58 PM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


I use the ketchup packets. I also use the salt and pepper packets. I don't understand people who don't like to dress up their junk food.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:01 PM on December 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


I get that condiment packets are just a symptom of a larger disposable culture, but I am starting to get grumpy about what feels like a fixation on 'straw/packets/styrofoam takeout containers/this one thing'. I know we can do more than one action and address things at the individual scale and the industry scale, at the packet level and the planet level, but it feels like we always run the risk of erasing that people live diverse lives.*

I am a treehugger (lifelong) who literally just five minutes ago dug out single use coffee cups from the office (shared) trash bin, emptied out the liquids, and then relocated the now recyclable cups to the recycle bin.

I also take those condiment packets and I bring them with me when I travel (thank you Popeyes for making my airport/airplane food taste like something). I bring those salt and pepper packets with me EVERYWHERE (they are paper and biodegradable)! I also have not bought a ketchup bottle in years.

* (see straw ban and disability justice advocates)
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:04 PM on December 5, 2019 [30 favorites]


I don't understand people who don't like to dress up their junk food.

It's because ketchup on fries is repulsive.
posted by thelonius at 1:05 PM on December 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


Counterpoint:
Condiment bottles get crusty and gross. They either dribble incontinently or release their contents in great farty spurts that overwhelm one's plate. Packets are polite, they allow one to discretely deposit a layer of sauce over a burger or a dab upon a French fry. Together with their sibling packets of mustard and mayonnaise they allow each guest to prepare their personal mixture of condiments without requiring the other diners to interrupt their meals while they form a culinary bucket brigade. It may seem a small thing, but it all adds up. Individual sauce packets have probably averted more conflict than the UN, and they're considerably tastier.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:05 PM on December 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


FYI packet-people, Long John Silver's has malt vinegar packets. They're the only packets worth keeping around and they're the only reason I can think of to enter a Long John Silver's.

Once you have malt vinegar on your fries, you will never want ketchup again.
posted by headnsouth at 1:05 PM on December 5, 2019 [18 favorites]


Two words: duck sauce.

I've got a coffee mug full of packets because my favorite take-out chinese place makes the best eggrolls but i prefer my sauce from a jar. at least with ketchup there are other things to put it on.
posted by OHenryPacey at 1:08 PM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Condiment bottles get crusty and gross.

There are means by which to clean the sauce vessels. My ancestors had an ancient tradition passed down through families, where after using a condiment bottle they would preemptively wipe off any spilled sauce so it doesn't get all yucky later. I have personally forsaken this tradition, I ain't fancy.
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:13 PM on December 5, 2019 [15 favorites]


>In 2010, Heinz said it manufactured 11 billion ketchup packets per year...
>“That’s two packets for every person on earth,” the site claimed.

Couldn't they just send everybody their two packets? We can surely all eat and digest or otherwise assimilate two plastic ketchup packets. If you have particularly weak stomach acid for some reason you could just keep the packets in your pockets, one on the left and one on the right. Or use them in quilting, or whatever. Let's see a little initiative and personal responsibility here, people.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 1:20 PM on December 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


Condiment bottles get crusty and gross. They either dribble incontinently or release their contents in great farty spurts that overwhelm one's plate.

I don't suppose you've heard of the term pre-ketchup?
posted by sjswitzer at 1:21 PM on December 5, 2019 [9 favorites]


My parents save all the ketchup packets and make a point of using them before the bottled ketchup. Also, when they get handed a stack of napkins instead of 1, you can get those are on the napkin holder on the kitchen table.

And I always request pepper packets at fast food places (when I get take-out french fries).
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:26 PM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


It's because ketchup on fries is repulsive.

Yep. Vinegar all they way. Or mayo.

As far as I'm concerned ketchup is repulsive on everything.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:26 PM on December 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


My workplace has always provided free condiments and ketchup, and also very small butter containers. They just recently realized that butter is actually pretty damn expensive and that employees had been stuffing their pockets with it. Farewell free butter.
posted by Dumsnill at 1:31 PM on December 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


In my old neighborhood I was a regular customer at one of the nearby Chinese takeouts. The place was generally very busy but when there was no line, I would watch the owner assemble stacks of bags to put takeout in. Pull the plastic bag off the staple. Whip it open. Put in some duck sauce, soy sauce, napkins, and plastic forks in it. Flatten it with the handles on either side. Then pull another plastic bag off the staple and put it on the stack. She'd stack hundred of bags like this, ready to put the little white boxes and styrofoam clamshells into, as they came out the window from the kitchen.

I never used any of those condiments or plastic forks. It all went in the trash at home. When I remembered I would ask her not to give it to me. Or when I had time I would sit at one of their three tables and get my food on a real plate that someone has to wash. It's better that way anyways. Plus I liked to be there, the people were nice.

One day I saw one of the other regulars come in with a sackful of condiments and plastic forks, and give them back to the restaurant owner to re-use. She politely thanked her and stuffed the bag under the counter.

I wonder if she actually did reuse them, and if so whether that's violating some health code?
posted by elizilla at 1:32 PM on December 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


PILES of chopsticks in plastic sheathes. If anyone has crafting ideas, please advise.

I wish places would stop assuming I am a couple and understand I am just alone and hungry because I forgot to buy groceries.
posted by lookoutbelow at 1:33 PM on December 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


If you have too many single serve condiments and don't know what to do with them and they are in good, non-expired condition - you may be able to donate them to your local food bank, homeless shelter or a brown bag free lunch program. Especially if you have a whole lot of them and they're pre-sorted or ready to easily sort.

At the place I volunteer at I have an organizer basket filled with condiments ranging from chili powder to soy sauce, and, yes, ketchup and mustard. Mayo goes the fastest and is always the least in stock. We give these to people who don't have refrigeration or kitchens or who are homeless or under-housed. These small condiment items can change a plain old packet of ramen or a tin of spam into something that starts to look more like a civilized meal.



On the packaging waste issue, and if you like salt and pepper - do yourself a favor and get one of those little dual-sided salt and pepper shakers that campers use. They're tiny and tidy and you can throw them in a backpack or purse or lunch box or what have you, and you can fill it with really fancy salt and pepper or make your own custom blends.

I've talked about this before in various food threads, but I almost always have at least a camp spoon, knife and salt/pepper shaker on my person in a bag somewhere, almost specifically just in case I meet an avocado that needs eating or I go buy one. That or other random vegetables, but mainly avocados. But that salt and pepper shaker has come in very handy for many things.

Who cares if you look like a nerd busting it out at a casual group meal, sit down or fast food! You can have fancy smoked sea salt on your fast food french fries, or really nice black pepper on your greasy spoon hashbrowns instead of some stale, flavorless SysCo shit that's been sitting around for god knows how long or that anemic, flavorless crap you get in the paper break-open packets from places like McDonald's.

No, seriously, most of the table salt and pepper at any given restaurant below about $20-25 a seat (and up) is the cheapest SysCo garbage and it's practically just an afterthought or empty gesture. Sure, salt is hard to fuck up but the black pepper used in table shakers and in the paper single serve packets is complete and utter garbage, and then it's usually sitting around some dank pantry or storage area in the restaurant for excessively long times.

The last place I worked at had a pair of boxes of salt/pepper to go packets that must have been at least 5 years old. It takes forever to go through a couple of cubic feet of salt/pepper single serve packets. Sure McDonald's might turn that over faster, but the stuff is crap even when it's fresh, much less after sitting around for ages.

People who actually like black pepper, white pepper or other varieties of the peppercorn know what I'm talking about. The SysCo stuff tastes like sad vaguely bitter sand. Fresh, good pepper has pop and a bite, a complicated bitterness and umami notes, smoke and just a bit of heat.

You can even extend this idea to other condiments if you're really into, say, ketchup. Most of these things are shelf stable, and I know more than one food fanatic or random hippy that sometimes actually carries around their own vinegar and oil because they eat a lot of salads. Hot sauce fiends also are known to carry their own supply. You can get very nice, portable squeeze bottles that don't leak or reuse commercial containers, often for years. And don't forget the good old Mason jar, which can be used for many, many things.



I'm might be a bit libertine about this, but except for really high end dining where seasoning your own food at all is a generally a non-starter - I can't think of any casual restaurant being weird or getting offended about someone bringing their own small, unobtrusive condiment dispenser like a salt and pepper shaker or squeeze bottle to the table.

People with dietary needs do this all the time anyway, carrying Stevia to replace sugar for example.

It's a win for waste and trash reduction. It's a win for less work for the staff. It's a win for their own bottom line, if counted in pennies. It's a win for the diner who gets to have their favorite salt or pepper on their food. It's a win for the food and enjoyment of it.

And to be honest most of the cooks and legit chefs I know would react positively to some food nerd that brought their own fancy salt and pepper or whatever and would be less offended and a lot more interested in what kind of special or fancy salt and pepper you brought with you. "Woah, cool, whatcha got there? Some pink Himalayan? Smoked black pepper? Good stuff!"
posted by loquacious at 1:33 PM on December 5, 2019 [34 favorites]


I'm not . . . opposed to ketchup, and there are certainly times I enjoy it, but I genuinely can't think of the last time I got a to-go box with ketchup packets, and am surprised it's still common.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:35 PM on December 5, 2019


"Those little salt packets were so incredibly useful when I lost my voice recently."

Did you shake them like minuscule maracas in some some sort of whispery Morse code?
posted by komara at 1:36 PM on December 5, 2019 [42 favorites]


Millions of these, clogging the earth. Our waste is so overwhelming.
posted by agregoli at 1:37 PM on December 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


Also, ketchup belongs on fries. Fight me. So does mayo, or malt vinegar. Or cheese and onions. Sometimes milkshakes. Sometimes they're best when stuffed into a burger. Whatever the hell you want, because almost everything goes with a french fry.

Don't fuck with me, I know how to operate a commercial deep fryer. You dogmatic purists can go gnaw on a raw potato or steamed tater tots.
posted by loquacious at 1:41 PM on December 5, 2019 [16 favorites]


I am a treehugger (lifelong) who literally just five minutes ago dug out single use coffee cups from the office (shared) trash bin, emptied out the liquids, and then relocated the now recyclable cups to the recycle bin.


Uhh.. not a coffee drinker, but... aren't those single use cups wax lined and therefore not actually recyclable?
posted by pwnguin at 1:42 PM on December 5, 2019 [15 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned ketchup is repulsive on everything.

My wife disagrees.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:47 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Those little salt packets were so incredibly useful when I lost my voice recently.

did you throw the salt at the fae who stole your voice
posted by poffin boffin at 1:49 PM on December 5, 2019 [58 favorites]


did you throw the salt at the fae who stole your voice

Or perhaps it simply made preparing a salt-water gargle trivial?
posted by mikelieman at 1:54 PM on December 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


I could also do without the packets of crappy soy sauce and duck sauce that come with my Chinese take out.

And why do hardly any of the Chinese places in my neighborhood give you the hot mustard packet? An egg roll is nothing without hot mustard!

(Hot sauce packets are fine, though.)
posted by SansPoint at 1:57 PM on December 5, 2019


The alleged purpose of a ketchup packet is to complement fries or whatever else you ordered that might be close enough to a food that goes well with ketchup.
This is a common misapprehension. The actual purpose of a ketchup packet is to form the traditional substrate in your kitchen junk drawer. Packets of hot sauce or mayonnaise are also permissible here.

Having established this foundation, one traditionally adds other single-use condiments, paper products, or disposable flatware. Highly sought after here are combinations of two or more of the three, such as individually wrapped kits containing one napkin, one spork, and occasionally tiny parcels of salt and pepper. Sugar packets with sparse illustrations of sailing ships may appear here. Foil-wrapped moist towelettes may be added as long as their actual moistness is no longer certain. Variety is key -- disposable chopsticks are a common (and welcome) addition but less common items such as packets of gyoza sauce or compostable pho spoons mark the true kitchen junk aficionado.

Once properly established with such items, the kitchen junk drawer may be extended to include almost anything related to food, as long as it is almost never used. Expired coupons, non-dairy creamer of questionable provenance, those weird vacuum caps intended to keep opened bottles of soda fresh, the meat thermometer that came with the microwave you threw out last August, that $10 milk frother missing its battery cap... all are welcome here.

Some argue that non-kitchen-specific junk may be stored here as well, such as one-use Allan wrenches received with flat-shipped furniture, or perhaps dented tea candles accompanied by depleted matchbooks, but for the purist the kitchen junk drawer should contain only food-adjacent junk.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 1:59 PM on December 5, 2019 [40 favorites]


I have a friend, Ed, for whom ketchup packets are the only way to dispense a perfect thin line of 'chup on the chip (=fry). Ed is a good cat but takes all afternoon to eat his chips.

My use for these is putting them under car tyres for a satisfying bloody spakow-SPLAT of fake gore. Still not as good as the time I accidentally reversed over a dropped pouch of mashed peas baby food and decorated a very wide area.
posted by scruss at 2:04 PM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


So much salt in this thread.
posted by loquacious at 2:08 PM on December 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


The office break room once had a condiment drawer that really had to be seen to be believed. It was a veritable archeological goldmine of late capitalist condiment ephemera.

Real question overheard in the break room: “How brown is too brown for ketchup?”

Sadly, someone cleaned it out about a year ago and things just haven’t been the same.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:40 PM on December 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


Condiment packets are ideal for long hikes and backpacking.
posted by sugarbomb at 2:47 PM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


...they’re aggravating and useless

I beg to differ.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:47 PM on December 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


The office break room once had a condiment drawer that really had to be seen to be believed. It was a veritable archeological goldmine of late capitalist condiment ephemera.

Our office has this as well.

I am ashamed to say that I once was so in need of spice/flavour that I opened up two Taco Bell hot-sauce packets that were from about 5 or 7 years ago. I'm not sure if it speaks more to me as a person or the sauce, that I had no problem with the taste or quality of sauce that I consumed.
posted by Fizz at 2:57 PM on December 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


In my experience the most annoying thing about those packets is that if you step on a full one it squirts sauce right up your leg and despite clean-up attempts you spend the next couple of days smelling strongly of ketchup.
posted by Fuchsoid at 3:06 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think it was just that you were already eating Taco Bell.
posted by agregoli at 3:07 PM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


I've found that the local FF places now ask if you want any extras, rather than just throwing a few in the bag.

I have no problem with salt and pepper paks, you couldn't find something more biodegradable. But I have a micro salt shaker in the car, because in the humid summer months, the salt paks don't work. The salt just absorbs moisture, and hardens into a little block.

When I was in a real "watch my pennies" phase, I would empty my ketchup paks into the bottle at home. I got over this.
posted by Marky at 3:14 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Team Tartar Sauce on Fries, over here, but that never comes in those weird packets -- just in teeny plastic cups with lids.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:24 PM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


It was thanks to an office condiment drawer that I learned cheap yellow mustard packets are somewhat permeable--enough that the moisture escapes and eventually one is left with a solid puck of dried out mustard in an unopened packet. Mmmmm!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:26 PM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


I like to tear open the ketchup packet and suck out the ketchup.
posted by Automocar at 5:23 PM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


We do not eat ketchup, it being the Devil's Condiment, so we don't have it in the fridge.

But we often have school friends over who would like ketchup on their hot dog or whatever we're having for lunch and are frankly always a little surprised that we don't have it.
The solution would seem to be ketchup packets, but we don't eat fast food either.

Which leads to the slightly absurd situation where every so often we have a friend grab a handful or two of ketchup packets the next time they have lunch and deliver them to us.
The last time this happened, our friend decided we needed variety, so we ended up with a brown paper bag full of the (surprisingly varied) contents of condiment station.

We have not only ketchup, but BBQ sauce, spicy BBQ sauce, mustard, deli mustard, hot sauce, all kinds of sauce waiting in the cupboard so we can provide our neighbor's kids with the very best dining experience.
posted by madajb at 5:51 PM on December 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


Team Tartar Sauce on Fries, over here, but that never comes in those weird packets -- just in teeny plastic cups with lids.

Add a little ketchup and you basically have fry sauce. I’m not a fan of ketchup but I do like a well-made fry sauce.

It was thanks to an office condiment drawer that I learned cheap yellow mustard packets are somewhat permeable--enough that the moisture escapes and eventually one is left with a solid puck of dried out mustard in an unopened packet. Mmmmm

ö
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:03 PM on December 5, 2019


solid puck of dried out mustard in an unopened packet

I bet you could grind that up and you've got powdered mustard! Just add water! Circle of life, man.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 6:15 PM on December 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


Arby Sauce. And the ketchup packets do get used, because running out of bottled sauce is a thing and baked fries without the red stuff just isn't going to happen. The other packets sit in the fridge egg storage section, waiting to be culled.
Seconding saving up packets of ketchup, mayo, mustard and jelly when going camping. Justin's peanut butter packets are available, too.
posted by TrishaU at 6:36 PM on December 5, 2019


>Let's just skip to the end here and ban ketchup outright.

Then what would my 2 year old eat?
posted by Catblack at 7:17 PM on December 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


I had abnormally low blood pressure as a teenager, and my doctor prescribed as much salt as I could tolerate. I took to chewing those little paper packs like gum. Left with a nice spitwad at the end. I could get some distance by the time the issue resolved itself.
posted by Jilder at 7:25 PM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


The ketchup hatred made me wonder why and when it became the quintessentially American condiment: and behold! the internet hath given of its plenty.

Also, the only thing that's essential on fries is gravy. I will hurt you if you disagree.
posted by jrochest at 8:00 PM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


I hate the condiments and plastic silverware I get with delivery food. I'm in my own home, I promise I don't need it and it's just trash now. Grubhub give you a "don't give me these" check box but at least half the time I get them anyway.

That said, black pepper is the best french fry topping, you can keep your sauces.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:06 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


I have a vague but deeply distressing memory of squirting a catsup packet I was playing with all over myself when I was very young. Much as I love tomatoes, I've felt a visceral revulsion towards catsup my whole life - I don't even like touching a bottle or having any in my house - and I trace it back to that packet.

I would sleep much more easily knowing the things were banished from the face of the earth.

Automocar, you horrify me
posted by DingoMutt at 8:08 PM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


I try to request no condiments or utensils, but when I get them, I donate them to our local food pantry. They've always been well-received.
posted by snickerdoodle at 8:16 PM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised at the number of people in this thread who collect piles of unwanted ketchup packets. Like, 9/10 places I get takeout won't give them unless you ask, and only grudgingly then.
posted by mattwan at 9:09 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Beginning to think this is one of those real class dividers, between people who grew up hoarding free food-like items because one day it might be all you have to hand, and those who never had to make a snack out of pickle relish packets. Old habits die hard.
posted by praemunire at 9:33 PM on December 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


Then what would my 2 year old eat?

Anything... Nutella, hot sauce, Fun Dip
posted by lefty lucky cat at 9:35 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Unsolicited restaurant makes me nuts. Do not give me ketchup packets I didn't ask for. Ask me if I want plastic to-go utensils in case I'm taking my food home. I don't need a lid and a straw if I'm dining in, because I am a grown ass adult and don't need sippy cup action to drink lemonade.

I don't mind other people doing that stuff. But it's irritating to have to decide between hoarding things I don't want and making garbage out of unused disposable products because someone gave them to me without me asking. I get that it comes from a place of wanting to give good service. But I'm good. Keep your duck sauce and plastic forks.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:36 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of the 1980 movie 'Simon,' in which Simon wins the Nobel Peace Prize for inspiring legislation making it illegal to "package ketchup in tiny plastic envelopes" because such things slowly erode the human spirit.
posted by jabah at 10:37 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


My Girl Scout troop spent an hour tonight packing toiletry and snack go-bags for the guests at our city warming shelter and let me tell you, I now really love all those restaurant packaged napkin-and-utensil packets and condiment packets because we were able to put together go-bags of snacks, seasonings, sauces and cutlery for people who otherwise have so little control over what they eat or how it tastes.

That said, there are probably better, scalable solutions to both rampant homelessness and extraneous accessories in one’s carry-away food bags.
posted by sobell at 10:55 PM on December 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


Also, the only thing that's essential on fries is gravy. I will hurt you if you disagree.

Well, I tried. No more fries for you. The Brotherhood of the Fryolater has spoken. Here's a cold potato.

Any more pommes frites prescriptivists want to take a swing or say something, you might as well do it now while the fryer is hot.

For everyone else, please queue in an orderly fashion. Will be serving duckfat poutine in approximately ten minutes.
posted by loquacious at 1:22 AM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also, the only thing that's essential on fries is gravy. I will hurt you if you disagree.

We're talking white gravy right? [insert Homer Simpson drooling gif]
posted by LizBoBiz at 4:49 AM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure why the author is fixated on this one very specific kind of waste.

But, if we actually want to solve the problem: maybe alternative packaging is the answer?

Packets are ridiculous, solely for practical reasons – they contain a uselessly minuscule portion of ketchup. So you end up getting a fistful of packets anyway, which you then have to tear open one by one. The dippable tubs are much better in that regard.

Maybe a little biodegradable cardboard container (lined inside and out with vegetable wax) is an option? Like a tiny milk carton? That might have a shorter shelf life, though.

I try to make a point of using the napkins and condiments that come with delivery food, instead of using my own. At least they get used, instead of piling up in a junk drawer, only to get thrown away.

Also: when you're placing a carryout order (especially in person), it's fine to say "I don't need [a bag | utensils | condiments | whatever]".
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:59 AM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Then what would my 2 year old eat?
posted by Catblack at 10:17 PM on December 5


We're not ketchup people, so it's not in the house. Our three year old has had and liked ketchup when she's out of the house, but at home she is NUTS for tartar sauce. She asks for fish sticks just to get the tartar sauce. When I get out the bottle she jumps up and down screaming "TARTAR SAUCE TARTAR SAUCE TARTAR SAUCE." It's wild.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:19 AM on December 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why the author is fixated on this one very specific kind of waste.

If you don't pick one thing to fixate on, you'll never get anything done. Being concerned about "waste" in general is justifiable, but it's such a big problem it's unlikely that you'll ever make much traction on it. In contrast, as we have seen with plastic straws, and before that with plastic six-pack rings (which have, at least that I've seen, mostly been replaced with better designs), you can make progress if you focus on a specific thing. Especially if it's something that's questionably essential in the first place, or something for which alternatives already exist, and what's really needed is just a nudge.

Re ketchup packets, I hate the things (I hate ketchup generally), and more frustratingly have found that asking to not have them included is rarely successful. Whether you want the damn things or not, if you order fast food, it's going to come with a dozen of the little shits. They're basically inevitable.

I don't have a great solution that will work for drive-thrus, but for carryout orders in the restaurant, I suspect that converting to a self-serve model might work and be a win-win. Win for people who really want ketchup packets, since they can take as many as they feel they need, and a win for people like me who want zero of them, ever, and thus just don't have to take them. The problem, IMO, is when you include something like ketchup packets (or straws) by default, for everyone, all the time, whether they want the things or not.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:10 AM on December 6, 2019


Also, the only thing that's essential on fries is gravy. I will hurt you if you disagree.

We're talking white gravy right? [insert Homer Simpson drooling gif]
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:49 AM on December 6 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


Our local Dairy Queens serve white pepper gravy with their fries. I am obsessed with white pepper gravy. The only fast food sauce I care about is Arby's sauce. I dont get ketchup. If the place has honey mustard i'll use that, and if not I eat my fries plain. the best condiment you can get in my city is the Garlic Sauce from the shawarma place. I actually had that for dinner last night. their fries are to die for.
But, when i'm at home and want a dipping sauce, i mix a good mayonnaise with a bit of zesty catalina (it has to be the zesty kind), and it comes out similar to the sauce at chicken places.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:46 AM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Like, 9/10 places I get takeout won't give them unless you ask, and only grudgingly then.
posted by mattwan at 9:09 PM on December 5 [+] [!]


Beginning to think this is one of those real class dividers, between people who grew up hoarding free food-like items because one day it might be all you have to hand, and those who never had to make a snack out of pickle relish packets. Old habits die hard.


It actually is kind of a class thing! For example, McDonalds in nice areas have all their condiments (meaning nugget sauce and salad dressing) out just for you to take.

And those little square ketchup packets are terrible, but the ones that are slightly larger and look like tiny bottles of ketchup are adorable!
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:59 AM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


From the ketchup history article:
In the Philippines there’s a popular banana ketchup that was invented when tomatoes ran short during World War II but otherwise looks and tastes like tomato ketchup.

No, not really. It's not as good as decent ketchup and has that 'banana' chemical taste the many people in the banana tread said they couldn't stand, but I personally don't mind. Also it's red like ketchup even though bananas are the #2 ingredient and there is no major 'red ingredient' mentioned - due to red #40 chemicals. It is slightly healhier, less calories, less salt, and less sugar.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:10 AM on December 6, 2019


From the ketchup history article:

posted by The_Vegetables at 12:10 on December 6 [+] [!]
I saw what you did there.

I have had a bottle of rancid tomato ketchup explode on me: trust me, when it's grey and effervescent you don't want the taste of it in your mouth. Be suspicious of all resto ketchup bottles, especially glass ones that could have been refilled. These ones had been on an outdoor patio table in a downtown Toronto pub. If there are bubbles in the ketchup, don't open it!
posted by scruss at 10:00 AM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Gravy on fries is indeed a luxury, but hard to call essential as it is infrequent to come by around these parts. Although it has been getting easier as poutine increases in popularity.
posted by slogger at 10:44 AM on December 6, 2019


It actually is kind of a class thing! For example, McDonalds in nice areas have all their condiments (meaning nugget sauce and salad dressing) out just for you to take.

You can judge the socioeconomics of an area by how hard you have to beg for extra chicken nugget sauce, which is relatively expensive compared to the other condiment offerings, I believe.

Seamless now lets you decline napkins, condiments, utensils, etc. with your order.
posted by praemunire at 11:05 AM on December 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


In contrast, as we have seen with plastic straws, and before that with plastic six-pack rings (which have, at least that I've seen, mostly been replaced with better designs), you can make progress if you focus on a specific thing.

Well...sort of depends on how you define "progress," doesn't it? Does eliminating plastic straws make a perceptible difference, especially as compared to how much of a difference directing that energy towards larger-scale sources of pollution might have made?

In other words, what are they asking you to think about ketchup packets instead of?
posted by praemunire at 11:07 AM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Seamless now lets you decline napkins, condiments, utensils, etc. with your order.

sometimes the restaurants forget and that's fine but my god, the number of shrill entitled one star "reviews" complaining about how the restaurant gave them 2 napkins when they asked for none and now no one should ever order from them again because they are MONSTERS. that number is Too Damn High.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:55 AM on December 6, 2019


And especially don't give people ketchup when they ask for jelly.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:19 PM on December 6, 2019


You can judge the socioeconomics of an area by how hard you have to beg for extra chicken nugget sauce, which is relatively expensive compared to the other condiment offerings, I believe.

Or by whether the restroom is a place you can just enter or if you need a key/code, to make sure unauthorised poors aren't attending to natural bodily functions without buying a value meal first.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:16 PM on December 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


I do this all the time? Like I don't find McDonald's fries or hashbrowns sufficiently salty (shut up) and I don't want to take everything out of the bag and season it there and then have to put it back so I grab a couple of packets of salt to bring back to my home or office where I can overseason my food in peace.
posted by an octopus IRL at 12:52 PM on December 5


You don't keep salt in your own home? What on earth
posted by starfishprime at 1:21 PM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


And especially don't give people ketchup when they ask for jelly.

Well, in all fairness ketchup is just tomato jam.


Disgusting overly sweet glop.
posted by fimbulvetr at 4:41 PM on December 6, 2019


When I was a kid, maybe 7 or 8, bored in the car waiting for someone I was playing with a packet of ketchup (squeezing it from one end of the package to the other).

My dad told me, "Don't do that. It's going to explode."

I ignored him, and so of course, it explodes.

I remember respecting my old man a bunch more after that.

(I cleaned it up voluntarily without being asked - and guiltily.)

--

McDonalds medium fries - tip over, slide the sleeve to release the fries onto the paper mat on the plastic tray. 1 packet of salt, 2 packets of pepper (it's usually pretty stale and low powered). 2x 1/2 filled paper mini-chef's hats with ketchup. I packet of mayonaise ("McChicken sauce") to top off the two ketchups.

But, yeah, at DQ or KFC or Church's I'll get a gravy for fries. At NYF, it's a poutine (curds and gravy) with their California powder, and lots of it.

--

Singling out ketchup packets seems a little monomaniacal rather than a purely holistic critique of mass production/ consumerism/ single-serving packages.
posted by porpoise at 3:32 PM on December 8, 2019


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