CONDIMENT CONUNDRUM

A few months ago a friend told me that serving anything other than name-brand ketchup to guests is a social faux pas. For example, if I have a BBQ for a group of friends and serve Heinz ketchup or Del Monte ketchup, that is just fine. If, however, I offer Safeway ketchup or Albertsons ketchup at the BBQ, my friend says I may have violated an unsaid rule.

Speaking personally, I can’t conceive of being upset with someone who invited me into their home and served me generic ketchup – or practically anything else they served me, for that matter.  On the other hand, if I had food allergies I might actually be concerned about the issue.

More than anything, I am starting to think that the question is about the value of the perception of your guests. Is there really additional social value in serving a name-brand ketchup to your guests versus a generic one?

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19 Responses to CONDIMENT CONUNDRUM

  1. el smurfo says:

    Really? Talk about a First World problem. We generally don’t buy name brand ketchup just because it is full of corn syrup. I would think the SB snobs should be fine with Trader Joe’s brand …

  2. Chaz says:

    When I entertain I put out a tupperware bowl filled with those little rectangular squeeze packets of ketchup I’ve accumulated from countless visits to fast-food joints. Some of them are even still fresh.

    That way my guests know I’m self-assured and comfortable with my identity in not having to try and impress them. Kind of seems chic in a cheap sort of way. What my guests don’t realize is that I really am cheap.

  3. jdinsb says:

    Ketchup is ghetto. Don’t listen to the punk. Probably enjoys it on his weenies, ghetto spaghetti and ghetto pizza!

  4. sb says:

    I make my own ketchup. With organic and local tomatoes. Best way to go. JD… your use of the word “ghetto” is offensive.

  5. Brendan says:

    This seems like one of those things where if you’re upset by it, you’re the one with no manners (doubly so if you actually mention it). I can’t imagine being bothered by what brand of ketchup someone uses. (I mean, if I don’t like the taste, I might make a mental note not to buy that brand, but fancy brands can taste worse than generic ones.)

    Also, I must add: in the unlikely event that someone did care about ketchup branding, I would have to believe this ketchup conoisseur would consider Heinz the only choice.

  6. Meridith Moore says:

    It is true: When guests are invited over, it is appropriate to offer good quality products, i.e. Good wine vs. Two buck Chuck, quality condiments, etc. But you could get away with store brands or cheaper products by taking them out of the jar and putting them in a bowl with a serving spoon.

  7. Joe says:

    I have a Aunt who collects the small packets of random ketchup brands and every month will squeeze them all into a Heinz bottle.This method takes her a few hours to complete. Her end result is a mixture of many brands. She has the money to buy ketchup but I guess she has way too much time to burn. This topic reminds me of her.

  8. Germaine says:

    OMG. Something else that I should be worrying about but was too out of touch to realize…. When I have a lot of people over, I usually put ketchup in one of those plastic squeeze bottles with a nozzle on it — it makes it easier to put the ketchup where it belongs on the food and avoids and avoids drips on the table. I used to know a guy who was a high-up at Heinz. He told me that a good chunk of their sales were from selling their products to supermarkets who would then put their (the supermarket’s) label on them. So, there’s a good chance that that “inferior” brand may really be one of The Big Ones. FWIW, I can honestly say, I’ve never given a second thought to the label on the ketchup (or anything else) served to me at a friend’s house (or pretty much anywhere else).

  9. Ryan says:

    If you’re that worried about social embarassment… take your old jar of Heinz and fill it up with generic (i’m guessing this is what 80% of the restaurants in SB do)

    Problem Solved!

  10. Robert says:

    ^^^^ THIS!!!

    Mustard over ketchup any day of the week and twice on Sunday! Viva Mustard!

  11. Lesley says:

    I was brought up by my mother to never serve condiments in their original containers at the dinner table (or a BBQ for that matter.) We were always able to bring out our fun serving bowls and dishes for the condiments, and no one knew what brand we were serving. I have continued that tradition, because it always reminds me of what a classy broad my mother is :-)

  12. Charlotte says:

    Your friend is wrong! What would Martha Stewart do? What would Emily Post do? Why they would decant the condiments is stylish ramekins! DUH! ( who cares if they aren’t brand names )

  13. Susan says:

    I guess I’m a little bit more of a food snob. While I don’t really care what my friends serve, I do have my taste preferences. I know of quite a few brands of ketchup, in particular, that I really do not like the taste of. If served one of those, I simply use less ketchup than I normally would. It doesn’t change my opinion of my friends in any way.

  14. MR says:

    If you’re throwing a BBQ and not serving Heinz ketchup or branded condiments, guests begin to wonder if the food quality is inferior as well. This is an opportunity for the host to show his/her guests that they care about quality and would only serve the best. Think of your very favorite restaurants….how many of them use anything other than Heinz.
    As far as ramekins, canters, or serving bowls for your condiments go, that is very unsanitary. Flies, double dippers, knuckles, etc…
    Also, Heinz does not private label. If the label doesn’t say Heinz, it’s not.

    • Charlotte says:

      When I cater BBQs I use plain plastic squeeze bottles and the only condiments I’m a stickler on is mayo, my only choice is Best Foods and as for mustard goes, it’s French’s. I am less picky about Ketchup. I do not like to see labels on the buffet or on the table.

  15. Just Sayin says:

    I admit to being a loyal Heinz-lover, and any other ketchup just doesn’t taste right to me. I wouldn’t go so far as to think less of someone who serves another brand at their home, but when I have my choice, I go for Heinz. It is true that when I see any other ketchup served in a restaurant, my estimation of that establishment does dip a bit. So to speak.

  16. Krista and Tony says:

    Chup is for Chumps and tard is for, well, Tards! If your bbq or meat in general needs to be polluted with these disgusting “condiments” it really probably shouldn’t be eaten in the first place. And, if you put that crap on the bbq that I’ve spent hours smoking to perfection, they may never find your body!!

  17. Jerry says:

    Heinz “organic”Ketchup is the best. I have tried many, from gourmet brands to the cheap T Joes brand. All good but I’m telling you Heinz is still the best. I get the organic at Whole Foods.

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