Ketchup. Hamburgers seem naked without it. Nearly every American
household has a bottle of it in the fridge. How did ketchup
attain this status as Americas most popular condiment?
The humble roots of ketchup are closely linked toyou guessed
itpickles. Hundreds of years ago, the Chinese and Malaysians
used the brine from pickled fish as dipping sauces. Known as
kachiap, the sauce had a savory taste, flavored by the
brine spices and fish.
In the 1600s, after traders brought the idea to Britain, the
affluent classes there commonly served dishes with the rich
brines from pickled walnuts and mushrooms. Eventually, the Brits
began bottling these succulent condiments, calling them catsup.
Colonial Americans borrowed and tinkered with British catsup
recipes, trying different vegetables and spices. At first, these
catsups were usually tart, and also made with mushrooms and
walnutsin contrast to the sweetened tomato varieties available
today at your local supermarket. But around the mid-nineteenth
century, entrepreneurs exploited the American taste for sweet
foods and sold catsup made with tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon,
cayenne, and salt. The growing popularity and availability of
tomato catsup took off in the 1870s when the young Heinz company
added a sweet tomato ketchup to its condiment line.