Artifact: Food Fight


Credit: W Ketchup

Here's W ketchup, perfect for pouring over freedom fries. "You don't support Democrats," says the tag line, "why should your ketchup?" The brand was born, recalls the manufacturer's chairman, when a group of friends found that reaching for Heinz condiments was spoiling their barbecues. The company insists that W stands for Washington.

Political foods used to be a novelty in the U.S. There was a 1964 campaign soft drink named Goldwater, for example, and its Democratic answer, Johnson Juice. The 1970s saw the short-lived Billy Beer, named for Jimmy Carter's hapless brother (who actually drank Pabst). In recent years, though, political branding has become a niche of sorts. The Iraq invasion saw a wave of anti-Saddam hot sauce brands. Ben & Jerry's, the ice cream outfit, is one of numerous companies to associate their products with liberal causes. In response, some conservatives are now producing Star Spangled Ice Cream, available in such flavors as Nutty Environmentalist and I Hate the French Vanilla.

In fact, W ketchup itself has inspired an alternative. A product called Bush Country Ketchup accuses the W brand of centrist politics, and of merely "masquerad[ing] as a conservative condiment." Bush Country markets itself with the tagline, "Making sure Kerry won't ketchup to W."