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October 16, 2004 12:32 AM   Subscribe

An unusually long article about ketchup. Fascinating, I swear.
posted by Hildago (21 comments total)
Hey, I read the whole thing! A good read. Except I can't believe there was no mention of ketjap manis, the progenitor of ketchup.
posted by sklero at 1:43 AM on October 16, 2004

I really like this author. There's a longer list of his New Yorker articles here.

A few of my favorites:
Dealing with SUVS, and passive safety versus active safety in auto design

Ability to recognize thoughts from facial expressions alone

on snap judgements
posted by spatula at 1:43 AM on October 16, 2004

Wow, very interesting. I particularly agree with this statement:
"The thing about Coke and Pepsi is that they are absolutely gorgeous," Judy Heylmun, a vice-president of Sensory Spectrum, Inc., in Chatham, New Jersey, says. "They have beautiful notes--all flavors are in balance. It's very hard to do that well. Usually, when you taste a store cola it's"-- and here she made a series of pik! pik! pik! sounds--"all the notes are kind of spiky, and usually the citrus is the first thing to spike out. And then the cinnamon. Citrus and brown spice notes are top notes and very volatile, as opposed to vanilla, which is very dark and deep. A really cheap store brand will have a big, fat cinnamon note sitting on top of everything."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:33 AM on October 16, 2004

This is a pretty kickass article. It sounds like I need to try World's Best, I very much prefer the tomato-dominant flavor of Hunts while my ketchup-freak fiancee loves the vinegaryness of Heinz.

Strangely enough the birthplace of the stuff, Malaysia, has crappy ketchup. Everywhere I went one could only find Maggi brand, which is awful. Even worse, they leave it out on the table in the tropical heat, causing not-so-plesant-tasting fermentation. Blech.
posted by TungstenChef at 3:10 AM on October 16, 2004

Gladwell is rad. The Tipping Point is one of those books that really changed the way I look at the world...
posted by ph00dz at 5:12 AM on October 16, 2004

Really interesting article. I will only eat Heinz ketchup, every other ketchup that I've tried is substantially inferior (to my palate, anyway), to the point where if I can't have Heinz, I'd rather have none. I don't agree with the assessment of Pepsi (I do agree with the assessment of Coke) - to me Pepsi tastes weird and chemical-artificial, with many of those "spiky" notes that Heylmun says aren't there, whereas to me Coke truly has the smoothness and "amplitude" discussed in the article, so odds are I wouldn't make a good professional taster.

I hadn't realized that there was so much to ketchup!
posted by biscotti at 6:34 AM on October 16, 2004

upon clicking, i said to myself there was no way i'd read the whole thing. alas! great read, hungry now.
posted by moonbird at 6:53 AM on October 16, 2004

Flagged as good.

Not only do I have a renewed respect for ketchup and a new (fer me) writer/author to explore, I also have some knowledge of why I didn't like brussel sprouts as a little kid.

Excellent call, Hildago.
posted by jaronson at 7:44 AM on October 16, 2004

I generally avoid using ketchup around the house, in favor of A1 steak sauce, because ketchups just don't serve to give me the vinegar kick I crave.
posted by bunnytricks at 7:46 AM on October 16, 2004

Excellent: a justification of ketchup. I was brought up amid the British snobbery about it (and the "isn't my cooking good enough?" guilt trip) but I've always held that used in moderation it enhances existing flavours, and the MSG in tomatoes explains that. (For lunch today I had smoked trout, on bread and margarine, with a small dab of Heinz ketchup - brilliant).

jaronson: sprout perception also has a genetic component; they and other brassicas genuinely taste unpleasantly bitter to many people.
posted by raygirvan at 7:56 AM on October 16, 2004

...sprout perception also has a genetic component...

That may be, raygirvan, but I like the taste of them now.

...and broccolli, and I LOVE naringin! ;-)
posted by jaronson at 8:36 AM on October 16, 2004

Standard practice in the food industry would have been to convene a focus group and ask spaghetti eaters what they wanted. But Moskowitz does not believe that consumers -- even spaghetti lovers -- know what they desire if what they desire does not yet exist.

A subtle yet astounding way of market thinking I wish the music and radio industry would follow.

This is a great article, Hildago!
posted by Qubit at 10:07 AM on October 16, 2004

that was awesome
posted by Satapher at 11:42 AM on October 16, 2004

kick ass article.
posted by Grod at 1:11 PM on October 16, 2004

Well to tell the truth it made me hungry for ketchup. the royal sauce...Is there a good place to get South African Ketchup (Tomato Sauce variety) online?
posted by Duck_Lips at 1:42 PM on October 16, 2004

There are five known fundamental tastes in the human palate: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami. Umami is the proteiny, full-bodied taste of chicken soup, or cured meat, or fish stock, or aged cheese, or mother's milk, or soy sauce, or mushrooms, or seaweed, or cooked tomato.

Oh. My. God. There is a word for this? I love umami!
posted by contessa at 1:49 PM on October 16, 2004

I don't even like ketchup, but this was a great article. Thanks.
posted by interrobang at 2:03 PM on October 16, 2004

Ketchup and psychophysics. Mmm.

Tons of great science writing, all in PDF format. Hell yes. I need to get my palm pilot working again, so I will never be lacking something fascinating to read. (Which I've been desperate for, seeing as how long-winded my biology lab professor can be)

posted by LimePi at 8:54 PM on October 16, 2004

Ketchup is evil incarnate and I wouldn't touch the stuff on a dare.

Gladwell is cool, though.
posted by rushmc at 9:39 PM on October 16, 2004

I'd like to know more about umami.
posted by jb at 11:56 PM on October 16, 2004

I won't eat anything that might stain my straitjacket.
posted by Opus Dark at 5:14 PM on October 17, 2004

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