Ketchup vs. Catsup

Mr. Burns, Ketchup vs. Catsup

Ketchup or catsup? Two seemingly identical products, two different names. But which is better, even though they are virtually the same? Foodiggity punches the numbers and gets to the bottom of the condiment debate.

Ketchup

Ketchup

A quick history

Ketchup appears to be the original term. Derived from the Chinese condiment ke-tsiap, a pickled fish sauce — a version in Malaysia then became kechap and ketjap in Indonesia.

The word ketchup was first mentioned in Charles Lockyer’s book of 1711, An Account of the Trade in India:

“Soy comes in Tubbs from Jappan, and the best Ketchup from Tonquin; yet good of both sorts are made and sold very cheap in China”.

Influenced by these Asian condiments, the modern version of ketchup would see many iterations before tomatoes finally became a main ingredient in the late 1700’s.

Why ketchup is the preferred term

Heinz brought the preferred term to the forefront with what is clearly the most successful version of the condiment. Heinz even pays homage to early versions of ketchup by specifying that they produce a tomato version — hence ‘Heinz Tomato Ketchup.’

Heinz has had such a stronghold on the ketchup market that they were once bold enough to offer our beloved ketchup in various colors, including purple.

Catsup

Hunt's Catsup

A quick history

The term catsup first appeared in a quote by Jonathan Swift in 1730:

“And, for our home-bred British cheer, Botargo, catsup, and caveer”.

The term has since been used by major manufacturers, but most would eventually change over to ‘ketchup.’ Why the conformity? Well, not unlike day-glo and terrible music, it was an unfortunate result of the 1980’s.

Why catsup is the inferior term

It was a glorious time of hairbands and Reaganomics; and a mix of tomatoes, vinegar and spices was about to be declared a vegetable by the US Government.

That is correct. A condiment—whose main ingredient is actually a fruit—would be equivalent to a serving of vegetables, and could therefore stand in for an actual vegetable in school lunches.

Regardless of the insanity, the movement was gaining steam. But what did this mean for catsup? Well, it specified that ‘ketchup’ would become a vegetable, not ‘catsup.’

Those still using the now secondary term—including Del Monte—would conform or miss out on all the spoils that came from being a veggie, i.e., the money to be made by being included in Jimmy’s lunchbox.

Conclusion

So there you have it. With a little help from being firsties and pressure from the feds, ketchup clearly reigns supreme.

Even though it was never officially declared a vegetable, ketchup was later found to contain Lycopene, an antioxidant associated with decreased cancer risk—while catsup has been known to cause cancer.*

*That last part may or may not be true.

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Comments

  1. FYI, while tomatoes are fruits, they are also vegetables. The terms are not mutually exclusive.

  2. So there was a mommy tomato, a daddy tomato and a baby tomato are walking down the street…….

  3. Catsup is known to most experts to use higher quality tomatoes. This fact is not known to most Consumers, and they blindly purchase the inferior ketchup more often.

  4. It’s not called Mouseturd, is it???

  5. That’s John Kerry, you idiot. John Kerry is married to the Heinz Ketchup heiress. Have fun eating Hunt’s…

  6. Tank, Theresa Heinz, the Heinz Ketchup heiress is married to John Kerry, not Al Gore! :-)

  7. DaleK… I don’t think that there would be any consistent difference in ingredients from ketchup to catsup, but let us know how the shopping goes. And although ‘catsup’ seemed to have gone out with Reaganomics, you stick to your guns.

  8. Hi, my daughter, the English major, laughs at me when I write catsup. I always thought “ketchup” was the Heinz branding of the word – along the line of Kleenex (tissue) or Xerox (copy).

    Anyhoo, so I was Googling and found this very pretty website. I also found another suggesting ketchup contains sugar while catsup does not. I will check when I go shopping tomorrow!

    I’m still going to write catsup as it would seem to be more accurate given ketchup is not a vegetable! Seems to me, calling a fruit ketchup would be misleading. :)

  9. Now that Al (Lie like a dog about climate change) Gore is divorcing the Heinz Ketchup heir, I just might switch back to Ketchup instead of catsup ( cat soup).

Trackbacks

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  2. […] in 1981, the Reagan administration attempted to declare ketchup a vegetable. In allowing this bizarre claim, the government would be able to save money on federally-funded […]

  3. […] got to be grey. There have been other word battles through the ages. Ketchup vs. Catsup has a storied battle, with commerce and government conspiring to declare a clear winner. Who could […]

  4. […] verdad es que la catsup y el ketchup son básicamente el mismo condimento. El termino original es Ketchup, y fue adaptado por la marca Heinz de un condimento chino, de […]

  5. […] this effect.  My inclination is to go with some rubber tubing connected to a squeezable ketchup (catsup?) bottle.  I guess we’ll see how that […]

  6. […] I make my own ketchup? or is it catsup? I’m not even sure.  I did a little research on a few posts and found that for the most part they are on in the same.  That being said, most have tons of […]

  7. […] ever invented. They are salty, crunchy, chewy, cheap, and the ideal vehicle for sauces as sundry as catsup and milkshake. One year my friend gave up fries for Lent. I cried for her every single day for forty […]

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