Ketchup Makes Good Things Better

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Sometimes, my curiosity triumphs over indifference when it comes to life’s minor mysteries.  While some may argue for Ranch dressing, I firmly believe that ketchup is the perfect condiment.  Ketchup makes good things better.  IMG_1090

Let’s start with the obvious.  French Fries.  I happen to like French Fries, regardless of the societal condemnation for these nonessential nutrient or, more tangibly, my impending arterial blockage.  Just add ketchup, and fries become a superlative substrate for the tangy tomato paste that I (and millions and millions like me) favor.  I have also tried fries with Ranch dressing, not as a first choice, of course, and the fries remain quite tasty, but ketchup is the obvious Oprah’s choice. 

To give Ranch dressing its due, it is better for some foods, such as cucumber slices or carrots.  Want ketchup with those?  Well, no.  So perhaps Ranch dressing wins a competition for being a better utility player.  But I’m generally careful with my words, and I’ll stick to my guns: “Ketchup makes good things better.”  You see, I don’t harbor dislike for cucumbers or carrots, but neither would I qualify them as good things.

So what brings me to this piquant subject?  Ketchup is a weird word.  You know this is true, because you’ve thought the same thing.  Only, you left it to me to make you aware of it.  So, who came up with a name like that?  It’s certainly not a Madison Avenue product, and I’m not aware of any Ketchup Center for the Arts, Ketchup Library, Ketchup Civic Center… Obviously, there was no founding Mr. Ketchup behind this great success story of our times.   Yet, the name is certainly singular in that when someone says ketchup, you know what they mean.  And it sells:

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Yep, lots of yummy ketchup.

As large as the shelf space is, when I’m in an unfamiliar store, I prefer not to project myself into a U2 video, humming “I Still Can’t Find What I’m Looking For.”   Sure, the Grocer’s Handbook ordains that ketchup be located on the 2nd to 4th row from the produce section.  But, hey, those are long aisles, and if I want exercise, I’ll walk to the McDonald’s register rather than taking the drive-thru.  That’s why they make signs.

Voila!

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Yes, well, what is up with that?  Catsup?  At least Ketchup is phonetically correct.  “Hey, cat. Sup?”  Or, “Hey, why do you throw your cats up?” (To see if they land on their feet?).  It’s so wrong.

And there’s a reason for that.  Well, there’s at least the hint of a reason, from that storehouse of real, likely, probable, or possible truth, Wiki.   It’s Canadian English.  I didn’t know that there is such a thing, and, if so, I suppose catsup is their final stab at the 500 pound gorilla to their south.  If there’s English in the world, everyone knows it’s American English.  They snuck it all the way down to Georgia.  Perhaps the person who made the above sign was trying to establish some northern credibility to Atlanta’s underwhelming hockey team, the Atlanta Thrashers. 

Anyway, having come this far, and very much pleased with this North American sensory indulgence known as ketchup, you deserve to know the truth.  Like everything else, we imported it from China.

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