10/09/2013 09:24 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

17 Things You Didn't Know About Heinz Ketchup


Unlike the crowded field of hot sauce (which we definitively ranked right here), ketchup is essentially the Highlander of condiments: there can be only one. Heinz totally dominates the ketchup market, so we compiled 17 facts that will help you totally dominate any conversation on the subject.

ketchup packets

1. Heinz sells a whopping 11 billion packets of ketchup a year, which is two packets for every person on the planet, and two billion packets for every person currently in space (six!).

2. Tomatoes didn't make it into ketchup until the late 1800s, since most right-minded people considered it a poisonous cousin to nightshade.

3. Tap the 57 on the bottleneck in order to make the ketchup pour more quickly. Apparently 11 percent of Americans already know this trick while the rest of us silently suffer from snail-like pouring speeds.

4. In 2012, bottles of red gold began exploding in a New Jersey warehouse. Turns out the culprits purchased regular Heinz, then re-bottled it fraudulently as the premium fructose-less Simply Heinz Ketchup for a 12.5 percent profit! Unfortunately, their plan was foiled by the fermentation of the sugars, which, when combined with heat, combusted and left them red-handed.

ketchup cup

5. Malcolm Gladwell's excellent 2004 New Yorker article notes that Heinz effectively dominated the ketchup market by focusing on all five of the condiment's flavor attributes. Previously just a salty and bitter sauce, Heinz increased umami with a thicker consistency of ripe tomatoes, upped the sourness with acidity from concentrated vinegar, and used benzoate preservatives to double the sweetness, thus making consumers powerless to resist the five-flavor assault.

6. You might imagine Heinz buys a ton of tomatoes every year, but that's not accurate. They buy two million tons of tomatoes every year.

7. The main ketchup plant (like factory, not tomato) is in Fremont, Ohio, whose most famous native son is Everton Conger, known for ketching Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth.

There's so many more fascinating things to learn about Heinz (there used to be COAL in it?!), and there're all in the full story on!