Ketchup to Become Less Salty, Imperfect


don't you miss the good old days when gov't considered ketchup a vegetable?

Your ketchup is about to get less salty, thanks to threats of government regulation:

Just after the FDA announced its plans to limit salt in processed foods, Heinz has given word that it's tweaking the recipe for its iconic ketchup—and the new bottles will hit stores this summer. The company, which has not changed this ketchup recipe in 40 years, believes the new formula—which contains 15 percent less sodium—will be as popular as the old version, according to the AP. And that's very popular indeed—the brand corners about 60 percent of the ketchup market.

Which is a shame because, as Malcolm Gladwell convincingly argued in The New Yorker six years ago, Heinz ketchup is the perfect food:

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.  "Umami adds body," Gary Beauchamp, who heads the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia, says.  "If you add it to a soup, it makes the soup seem like it's thicker—it gives it sensory heft.  It turns a soup from salt water into a food."  When Heinz moved to ripe tomatoes and increased the percentage of tomato solids, he made ketchup, first and foremost, a potent source of umami.  Then he dramatically increased the concentration of vinegar, so that his ketchup had twice the acidity of most other ketchups; now ketchup was sour, another of the fundamental tastes.  The post-benzoate ketchups also doubled the concentration of sugar—so now ketchup was also sweet—and all along ketchup had been salty and bitter.  These are not trivial issues….What Heinz had done was come up with a condiment that pushed all five of these primal buttons.  The taste of Heinz's ketchup began at the tip of the tongue, where our receptors for sweet and salty first appear, moved along the sides, where sour notes seem the strongest, then hit the back of the tongue, for umami and bitter, in one long crescendo.  How many things in the supermarket run the sensory spectrum like this?

Worse, the sodium theft will be stealth. No advertising campaign is planned. Which means most people will simply find their french fry experience puzzlingly imperfect this summer. At least, they will until they shrug and shake more salt on their plates.

Via Jacob Grier.

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  1. Doooooooooooouchebag!

    1. Isn’t that whole areas of the tongue taste certain sensations complete and total bullshit? Pretty sure it’s hoary old folk biology.

      1. Uh, no, the taste map is pretty well established.

      2. Any part of the tongue contains all the different taste sensors, but certain areas have high concentrations of only one kind. The tip of the tongue has a high concentration of sweet sensors, for example.

  2. So now I am going to have to buy Mexican ketchup in adition to buying Mexican Pepsi and Coke.

    1. I was in Mexico a couple months ago – the soda really does taste better.

      1. For damned sure. Remember, Big Corn is denying us two things: Our precious tequila (due to agave crops being burned in favor of subsidized corn) and our precious sugar-sweetened Coke. If they didn’t on the flip side give us our precious bourbon, we’d have to go to war.

        1. bourbon is miles better than tequila so

          guess we can drown our sorrows with Knob Creek

          1. No way, tequila is way better than bourbon.

        2. Dude, didn’t know that about the tequila. Bastards!

      2. I just came back from China. They get the good stuff over there, too. Something is really wrong with this world.

    2. Don’t know if they still do it but McDonald fries in Mexico use to still use animal fat to cook its fries.

      OMG they were awesome.

      Anyway i am pretty sure in a few years any medical operations i will need will be preformed in Mexico as well.

      1. Maybe I should just become an ex-pat and move to Mexico for good!

        Then I could visit Arizona once in a while without my papers just for fun.

      2. I was at a fancy restuarant a few weeks ago. One of their appetizers was fries cooked in duck fat. Of course I payed $8 for them. They were worth it.

        1. Was it served with garlic aioli? Had that combination a few weeks ago and it is hard to beat.

      3. The outlaw of transfats in fast foods is such a joke, and a huge disappointment to people who have rich palates. Canola oil doesn’t do justice.

        1. actually it’s the advent of transfats that brought about an end to using animal fat in frying things at fast food establishments. Hydrogenated oils are more stable and thus more cost effective than lard. They do not taste better.

          1. Hydrogenated omega 6 oils, are often up to 6% trans fat. Re-using these oils creates even more deadly compounds.

            Coconut oil which is majority MCT sat fat is the best, lard is slightly worse being more omega 6. Corn oil and canola oil are some of the worst things you can put in your body, causing non alcoholic fatty liver disease, insulin insensitivity, lowering HDL and raising LDL.

            Just one of many sources:


        2. McDonald’s fries were cooked in beef fat not lard. I heard they switched because the Hindus and vegetarians were complaining.

  3. What? Why? Why would anyone do such a thing?

    1. Because they can.

      1. But Heinz is the ketchup, nay, the catsup, standard!

    2. But it’s for your own good!!!

      I’m still ticked that Pepperidge Farm took coconut oil out of their products in the ’80s because of some activist jerk’s crusade. Bordeaux cookies have never been as good.

      1. Uh, the company is doing this of their own free will… let’s let the mystical “market of rational individuals” see if it makes any difference.

        1. That’s really stretching the definition of “free will”. They aren’t changing the formula due to customer feedback, but b/c they are afraid that proposed legislation will damage their business and they are hoping to offset that damage.

          Does this mean that if I stand next to you with a loaded .45 angrily shouting that I’d be so much less likely to shoot you if you handed over your wallet that you’re giving me your money of your own free will?

  4. My cousin is a marketing executive at Heinz for condiments; I’ll have to ask her about this.

  5. Oh, and the traditional “taste map” of the tongue? Pure pseudoscience. There are mixed receptors all over the tongue.

    1. Indeed. Myths die hard.

      1. What I never understood is why people believed it in the first place. You have a tongue, what do you taste? It’s like telling a person who owns a telescope that all the red stars are in the southwest, blue in the northeast, yellow at the zenith, etc.
        It was early on that I learned that grade school science was unnecessarily dumbed down and even falsified for a young audience. For most people, this turns them off. For me, I wanted to see what was really hiding behind the veil. Physical chemistry is a real eye opener, and in some ways simpler than the BS they feed you in elementary and high school.

    2. Is “umami” for real? Ever since I first heard about it, I figured it was a scam like feng shui.

      1. For real. I had the same misgivings initially.

        1. Look up “Malliard Reaction” for a real understanding of what and where the Umami flavor comes from.

          1. We love malt!

      2. definitely. All the best things taste umami.

    3. Certain parts of the tongue still have higher concentrations of one or two kinds of receptors. So the taste map is accurate.

      1. I would have to agree with this. Occasionally when I eat a lot of bbq sauce (Sonny’s Real Pit BBQ) or drink root beer, only certain sections of my tongue will start to become inflamed. I don’t know if it’s related, but I also have a condition colloquially known as “geographic tongue,” where the tongue looks sort of like a map. But areas of the tongue change their color or become enlarged, but not the entire tongue. That’s why I’m reluctant to throw out the tastebud map completely.

  6. Cayenne Ketchup. It’s the way to do it.
    Just put the Ketchup in a small bowl and stir in cayenne pepper until your nose starts to bleed.

    1. Habanero ketchup. Empty the bottle/jar into a bowl and mix in the dried, powdered habanero until, as you say, your nose starts to bleed. Then add a little more. (And, soon, some salt.) Put it back in a squeeze bottle for the flavors to meld. It is glorious.

      F the sodium nannies.

      1. The taste of habenaros is fantastic, but I can’t tolerate more than a small amount at a time.

        I’ll put perhaps a tenth of one in a pot of chili (admittedly it has to nestle up with half a serrano a couple of pickled jalapenos and five of six New Mexico green chilies) and it’ll be as hot as the wife can take. Make it a quarter of a habenaro and it’s as hot as I can take. Mmmm.

        A strong red wine does *not* reduce the burn at all, but it goes really nicely. Or a amber ale.

  7. Think hypertension, Katherine, you stupid fucking cunt.

    1. It is dangerous for people who already have hypertension, but there is zero evidence it causes hypertension.…..887586.ece

    2. I like you as my nanny, Max. It gives me a chance to shit in your hat.

  8. What are you? 12?

    1. I’ve actually come to regard Max as an excellent colorist for the threads.

      1. I miss the recipes

        1. Oryx Mushroom Soup

          Oryx meat cut in small bite-size pieces, dredged in flour with salt and pepper
          2 T. butter (or enough to brown the meat and onions)
          1 cup diced onion
          1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
          2 cans Swanson chicken broth
          1 cup dry white wine
          1 cup water
          1 chicken bouillion cube
          1 lg. stalk of celery (or 2 small), diced
          1 lg. carrot (or 2 small) diced into small pieces
          1 bay leaf
          1/4 tsp. thyme

          In a large soup pot, melt butter and brown meat, onions and mushrooms. Add remaining ingredients and simmer in the covered pot for about an hour. Remove bay leaf before serving.

          Note: If the soup seems too thick (before you start to simmer it), add a little more water.

          … Hobbit

          1. I hate recipes that call for a specific brand of a common ingredient, as if it’s just not the same if you use any other.

      2. Then you are part of the problem.

      3. I’m better than a donation. Makes me think I should stop.

      4. I am coming to really detest the crap with which max and its ilk pollute the otherwise civil, intelligent conversation here. Disagreement is fine. Alternate opinions, even ridiculously misguided or wrong ones are fine, if an honest discussion/argument is being had.

        But trolls? As I’ve said before, they’re just retards-on-ice performance art.

        1. incif. Think of it as troll-be-gone.

          1. I have it on my laptop. Not on this desktop though. Also haven’t kept up with all the newest handles.

  9. It’s a “trick”. Campbell’s soup did it a few years ago. They substitute sea salt for the traditional salt. It’s naturally lower in sodium, but tastes the same. It’s also more expensive.

    Buck up, for hypertension. I must pay to control someone else’s high blood pressure.

    Max, think personal responsibility, you fucking prick.

    1. Doesn’t business respond to consumer demand? Think your simplistic ideology, you fucking moron.

      1. Since when does government regulation (or the threat of it) count as “consumer demand”? And Heinz already makes a low sodium ketchup.

        1. True. It’s no salt added. I’ve used a bottle. It’s good. It’s not the same, of course.

      2. Doesn’t business respond to consumer demand? Think your simplistic ideology, you fucking moron.

        No, they respond to government officials sending out saber-rattling missives about regulation.

  10. The best way to have French Fries is with Mayonnaise.

    1. no, you philistine. the best way to have fries is with roast beef gravy and cheese curds

      1. Wrong again. The best way to have french fries is with your mom.

        1. The best way for losertarians to have french fries is to eat them out of Ron Paul’s ass.

          1. Max, it is important to talk about your problems before they overwhelm you. I am deeply concerned for you. Have you considered counseling for your problems?

          2. Holy Shit, Max responded to me once.

      2. No… Malt vinegar.

        1. +1

      3. I beg to differ my Canadian friend. Poutine ruins the point of fry potatoes in fat: the crispy exterior.

        On a side not the Habs are getting raped.

    2. I forgive Belgium there idiocy with mayo on fries as long as they continue to rock the beer.

      Proof that fries and mayo dont belong together? Mayo doesnt go with anything, ergo….

      1. “If it ain’t Duke’s, it ain’t mayonnaise.”

        1. Dukes is better than Helmans. That is far certain.

          1. I feel like I’m the only person who ever likes Miracle Whip. Maybe that’s because most people don’t consider salad dressing to be the same thing as mayonnaise but it’s all toMAYto/toMAHto to me.

      2. Proof that robc doesn’t like mayonnaise is about all I find.

    3. WTF. It’s Freedom Fries, God Damn It!

      1. I thought that meme had died when most Americans turned against the Gulf War?

        1. It’s important to remind Americans of how they lost their minds for a while there. (Occasionally, since I have a really long memory, I refer to sauerkraut as “liberty cabbage”.)

    4. Agreed, although ketchup is good to have on the side, too.

    5. Nope, smothered in red chile!

      … Hobbit

    6. What, are you Belgian or something?

  11. How many things in the supermarket run the sensory spectrum like this?

    Uh… like… I can’t, like, count that high. Or, like, I can’t count high at all. *giggle



    Paul up by 21 with 24% of precincts reporting.

    1. +23, 28% reporting.

      1. 2nd district #s are just starting to come in, as they are central time zone. Its only going to get bigger, IMO.

        1. I’ll drink to that! (Of course, I was going to drink anyway… Homebrew club meeting tonight, and we’re doing a Doppelbock and Eisbock tasting.)

    2. AP has called it for Paul.

      1. Yep, 33% of the vote in and a 22 pt lead. I didnt think it was in doubt (although you never know, its been so long since I voted for someone who actually won, I wasnt sure) but Im interested in just how big of a win it is. Anything over 20 pts would be huge.

        Although KY as a bellweather may not be true any more. The special election (2nd district) in spring of ’94 predicted the onslaught that fall. KY had the 2nd longest streak of voting for the winner in presidencies but that ended in 2008 as McCain won in a landslide.

  13. More and more research shows salt is only dangerous for people who already have hypertension or borderline, not the average person since it goes out of your body.

    But you know, why let science get in the way of the chance to control someone else’s life.

  14. Here in Chicago we believe strongly that grown adults should not put ketchup on hot dogs. Personally, I extend that to anything except meatloaf (and in the case of meatloaf, you have to put it on at least twenty minutes before it’s done so the sugar caramelizes). Other than the aforementioned meatloaf, I can’t think of a single application for ketchup where barbecue sauce, steak sauce or hot sauce wouldn’t be better.

    1. Ketchup has one and only one use. French fries. NOTHING is better on them. Other than that, the product doesnt even need to exist.

      1. “Ketchup has one and only one use.”

        It is also good on meatloaf.

        1. Not a big meat loaf fan, so will give you that, although I bet one of the other condiments would work better. Worcestshire sauce seems like it would work well.

          1. My dad used to love fried egg sandwiches with ketchup. I couldn’t get into them.

            1. I love those for breakfast.

          2. I don’t care for it on meatloaf either. I pretty much fry together roasted red peppers and roasted tomatoes and roasted onions in olive oil with minced garlic. I add milk and flour after thing everything turns to a loose and stringy complexion. Add some black pepper and salt, and serve over the individual slices of meatloaf.

            Use Peppridge farm stuffing and ground pork in the meatloaf for best results.
            (two eggs and lean ground beef are the other essential ingredients.)

            If you want to make killer meatballs that will have the guest at the dinner party going down on you as a reward, use the meatloaf part of the recipe above and add a green pepper, a tablespoon of balsimic vinegar, a diced onion, and two tablespoons of brown sugar together in a blender, blend until chunky, add into the bowl and fold into the other ingredents.

            Bake you some balls.

            A jar of salsa, whatever you like, plus a jar of apricot preserves heated on the top of the stove makes for a killer sauce. Simmer the meatballs in the sauce for hours before serving.

            1. actually, the blended ingredients need to be a step finer than chunky. I usually start with blending the onion and green pepper until they are at a chunky consistency and then I blend in the rest of the ingredients.

      2. hushpuppies and onion rings, robc.

    2. Here in Chicago we believe strongly that grown adults should not put ketchup on hot dogs.

      The same goes in Philly with regards to cheesesteaks.

      1. “The same goes in Philly with regards to cheesesteaks.”

        There are people somewhere in the known universe who defile cheesesteaks with ketchup??????

    3. But the best barbecue sauce existing as a commercial product is ketchup/catsup.

    4. i can’t even eat hotdogs outside of chicago. not only do they put ketchup on them, their hotdogs have PORK in them. PORK!! I tasted one once and thought wtf why are they giving me breakfast sausage?

  15. OK I hate gubment regulation and all. But you know what I really hate the low-brow tastes of my fellow man.

    Now that I have 183 channels and a DVR I’m fine with a hundred million idiots tuning in to American Idol and Survivor or whatever. I don’t have to watch. I’ve got Mad Men and Top Chef. Music too. I just shake my fist at the kids outside and tell them to “Turn that crap down!” and pop in a Mozart or Miles CD.

    But finding food that doesn’t have twice as much sugar (or more often HFCS) and three times as much salt, as it should to taste best is damn near impossible unless you cook it yourself or there’s cloths on the tables.

    1. I have hypertension, but was pretty much able to find low sodium products without Big Brother mandating them for me.

      As for finding food with less sodium and sugar / HFCS, this is actually a good use for Whole Foods. Most of their products have low sodium and no HFCS. For example, their bread has 35mg of sodium a slice – about 1/5 the average of regular brands.

  16. How many things in the supermarket run the sensory spectrum like this?

    Worcestershire Sauce. So at least two.

    1. I never noticed it being sweet….

    2. Beer: sweet, sour, bitter, umami.

      Salty? not so much, although maybe a Gose.

    3. I am sure there are many commercially available sauces that meet the description.

  17. OH, the thing i don’t get: why not just make a Low-Sodium variant? That’s working for other stuff right? (god i hate trying to shake salt into a can of V8….but I’m not their target-audience, so w/e.)

      1. Well, then i guess Marketing told them they should switch to that product. I hope it works out for them. And hey, there’s always Huntz.

        1. No, Heinz should have told the FDA to buzz off, because they already make a low sodium ketchup that not many people buy. And then they should have made a public stink about how the government was trying to force them to change a traditional recipe loved by millions. Sales would jump by double digits within days.

          1. And then they would have had numerous plant inspections that found numerous “violations” that would have been publicly mentioned by high ranking officials of the administration.

            “Although we did not find any RAT DROPPINGS, we did find some other violations not related to RAT DROPPINGS that we believe should result in a recall of the product.”

  18. PPS: Are condiments where we should really be trying to make dietary cuts?

    Low-Sodium Ketchup for your FRIES!?!?! Thank god they made the ketchup less salty since we eat it with a big pile of salty, fried, starch.

    Mission Accomplished?

  19. Won’t somebody please think of the children?

  20. I, for one, am all over this new development as I sense arbitrage opportunities. Tomorrow, I purchase several cases of “old” heinz.

  21. Ok, so exactly how much salt do I need to add to the ketchup to fix it now?


  22. Max is someone’s thesis project for a Master’s Degree in Performing Arts.

  23. This is good, salt is bad bad bad!


    1. cunt, cunt, cunt!

    2. Salt is the best thing in the world.

  24. The government needs us to live longer, we are its resource.

    1. I wonder if society will ever get to the point where people live to 130 on average and enjoy just about none of it because a majority of the things that would have been enjoyable have either been banned or made so cost-prohibitive that they can’t be considered enjoyable anymore. Soda, video games, Happy Meal toys, salt…

      1. I refuse to give up eating and drinking what I enjoy so that I can live an extra twenty years NOT eating and drinking what I enjoy. That seems like a miserable way to go through life.

  25. Since when is salt bad for you? It does NOT cause high blood pressure, lots of studies now that indicate that. Sheesh. I wish the government would just stay out of my food.

  26. Enjoy my salty leavings.

    1. Oh great, a problem light.

      It’s on!
      It’s off!
      It’s on!
      It’s off!

      That’s blinking, boys!

  27. I just sent a complaint e-mail off to the FDA. Not that it will do any good, but I feel better now. More on the dubious salt/hypertension connection:…..pertension

  28. It’s not like we’re going after junk food… this is tobacco!

  29. Any idea if they could replace some of the sodium salt with potassium(or other) salt without affecting the flavor too much?

  30. More bad news for Steelers fans I guess. Pretty soon the team will have to change the name of their field from “Heinz Field” to “Low Sodium Heinz Alternative Field”

  31. I put the salt on the ketchup. It bounces off of the fries.

    1. Salt should be applied to fries (or any fried food) when it’s hot and right out of the oil.

  32. I’m sure the Food and Drug act specifically authorizes the FDA to write the recipe for every processed food in America, including cindiments and what is served at your local restaurant.

    Our benevolent overlords in D.C., pure in heart and infallible in judgement, surely know what’s best for us.

  33. Once people figure out what’s happened there’s bound to be a market for the “real” Heinz. Time to buy a bunch of cases now and then sell the bottles at a premium on e-bay later.

  34. Let Heinz spin this as choice for the consumer? If you want salt, add it yourself?

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