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Three Things to Know About Ketchup
At most American restaurants, your right to slather ketchup on whatever you want is guaranteed. Explore the condiment’s surprisingly distant origins with Groupon’s look at ketchup.
1. Ketchup was once a great way to boost your fermented-fish intake. The fish sauce popular in China’s Fujian province for hundreds of years went by a name that has been transliterated as ke-tchup, kôechiap, and kê-tsiap. Around the 1600s, sailors brought it home to places like England and the Netherlands; it traveled well, since the fermentation preserved it for long periods of time without need for refrigeration. From there, the recipe mutated as people started making it at home from ingredients including walnuts, mushrooms, and anchovies. The two constants were fermentation and vinegar, which remains a key ingredient in ketchup today.
2. Tomatoes didn’t even make it into ketchup until the early 1800s. Tomatoes had spread from the Americas to Europe by the late 1600s, but since they were a member of the same family as the deadly nightshade, they were viewed with suspicion for some time. By 1850, however, the easy-to-can fruits had become one of North America’s favorite kinds of produce, and ketchup soon graced tables everywhere—designed, in the pre-fast-food era, for use on everything from eggs to oysters to steak.
3. Heinz has never made 57 varieties of ketchup. After seeing a shoe ad that boasted 21 varieties of shoes, Henry J. Heinz decided to advertise similarly on his ketchup bottles using his favorite number, five, and his wife’s favorite number, seven.