Here are some fun facts about ketchup:
Or, is it catsup?
Catsup versus Ketchup
According to some reports, it’s really ketchup (which is disappointing since I’ve spent my entire adult life writing catsup).
You see, “ketchup comes from the Hokkien Chinese word, kê-tsiap, the name of a sauce derived from fermented fish.”
Ketchup is a Westernized version of the name, with catsup being the preferred version for a long time. But, now it’s all ketchup.
History of Ketchup
Oh, hey! Here’s another fun fact about about ketchup: it wasn’t initially made with tomatoes.
(WHAT? My entire life seems like a lie right now . . . )
Before the 1800s, many people thought that tomatoes were poisonous (and they were even nicknamed “poison apple”).
According to SmithsonianMag.org:
A nickname for the fruit was the “poison apple” because it was thought that aristocrats got sick and died after eating them, but the truth of the matter was that wealthy Europeans used pewter plates, which were high in lead content. Because tomatoes are so high in acidity, when placed on this particular tableware, the fruit would leach lead from the plate, resulting in many deaths from lead poisoning. No one made this connection between plate and poison at the time; the tomato was picked as the culprit.
So, instead of tomatoes, ketchup was made with other items like grapes, walnuts, anchovies, oysters, mushrooms and some other things that don’t seem very ketchup-y.
In the early 1800s, a recipe appeared using tomatoes in ketchup and ta-da! Tomatoes became the bell of the Ketchup Ball.
Fun Facts About Ketchup
The first commercially produced ketchup was full of preservatives, including coal tar because it helped achieve the red color.
(TAR FROM COAL, PEOPLE.)
In 1876, Henry J. “HJ” Heinz (yep, that Heinz) decided to produce ketchup with none of those yucky preservatives. (You know, like TAR.)
In 1905, the Heinz company sold 5 million bottles of ketchup, which seems like an extreme amount for a product containing tomatoes that were thought to be poisonous just a few years before.
But, what do I know. My kid eats ketchup on apples, so . . .
KETCHUP LESSONS, ACTIVITIES, AND PROJECTS
OK, so we’ve covered some fun facts about ketchup (and some gross stuff), but maybe you’re not ready to let it go yet? Maybe there just needs to be more . . . learning.
Good on you, man.
Check these out:
• Make healthy homemade ketchup (no coal tar at all in this recipe)
• Try the diving ketchup experiment
• Learn how to clean pennies with ketchup (and other items)
• Read about the Heinz company history (including the famous pickle on the bottle)
TOMATO LESSON PLANS, ACTIVITIES, AND PROJECTS
• Explore tomatoes (preschool)
• Learn about tomatoes (including history, prepping, cooking, nutrition and more)
• Do a lesson plan: The Amazing Tomato – From Roots to Routes A Journey From Field to Table
• Play a Build a Tomato Plant online game