Sunday, December 11, 2011

Step Aside, Heinz - Real Ketchup Has Arrived

'm not sure if you've noticed, but we're going through a really amazing period of time where small batch and handcrafted options are becoming available. After years of corporate takeovers where companies swallow companies in order to dominate the market with crappier products, small business owners are rescuing the public by taking a single, simple product (like ketchup) and making it the best it can be. That's the case with Sir Kensington's. They make one product: ketchup, and they put they're all into it. They aren't worried about their cosmetics and pharmaceutical divisions; they're not investing profits back into a new jet engine business.

It makes sense.  You go through the effort of making a decent burger - combining antibiotic-free, free range, grass-fed beef with local pork and lamb along with your secret mixture of spices.  You toasted your bakery-fresh bun perfectly, and kept your burger from a terrible fate of being overdone.  You've got the fixin's right, the perfect beer, and some amazing and hungry friends.  It's about to be the best burger experience ever...until inevitably someone pulls that high fructose corn syrup crap-ketchup out of the fridge and slathers it all over your masterpiece.  Fail.

Before we get into the flavor differences, let's take a hard look at the ingredients list and do some comparing:

Heinz KetchupSir Kensignton's Ketchup
Tomato concentrate from red
ripe tomatoes
Tomatoes
Distilled vinegarCider vinegar
High fructose corn syrupTomato paste
SaltRaw sugar
SpiceOnion
Onion powderHoney
"Natural Flavoring"Jalapeños
Olive oil
Cilantro
Lime juice concentrate
Green bell pepper
Salt
Agave nectar
Spices*
*On Sir Kensington's comparison, other ingredients like allspice and cayenne pepper and dijon mustard are also listed.

Now, as you might be able to tell from the ingredient list, the difference in taste is startling. Heinz still tastes like what we think of when we imagine ketchup - a tradition that sunk in since we grew up on it. Sir Kensington's, on the other hand, is bursting with tomato flavors, not unlike a perfect ragu. It's got a sweetness to it, but it's balanced well with the mouth-watering acidity imbued by the cider vinegar and lime, with a small but noticeable kick from the jalapeño. It's the best damned ketchup I've ever tasted.

You might then ask, "So how many have you tasted?" A great and worthy question from this discerning audience. Not many. I've of course had the no-name version of Heinz which tastes a lot like Heinz. No surprise there, it's engineered to be its cheaper replacement. I've also had Katchie Ketchup from the Katchie Farm here in New York. Flavored with chili powder and coriander and Worcestershire sauce among other things, the flavor was good. But the consistency was a tad on the soupy side, which made it harder to adhere to our favorite foods as a condiment.

So hats off to the Sir Kensington's team for rescuing us from the drudgery of another mass-market, over-engineered product. May your product grace our shelves forever.

--A

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