You Call That Cooking?
…or How to make not quite a meal, from stuff that is not quite food.
Ketchup-Flavored Potato Chips
Feeling a bit peckish, while shopping for groceries, I stuck my hand into a sample bowl of, what I thought were, BBQ potato chips. I thought they were BBQ potato chips, because they were red, and looked like potato chips. They looked like BBQ potato chips, but the taste that registered on my tongue was something else all together.
They tasted like the chips that you get at a place that can’t be bothered to make fries, so they serve you a few potato chips instead. These chips taste a special way, because some of the ketchup invariably leaks off of the sandwich, and onto the chips. “That’s it”, I thought, “ketchup?”
That’s when I looked at the package of the product I had just sampled. Sure enough, I had ingested, for the first time, intentionally ketchup-flavored potato chips. Specifically, Heinz 57 brand ketchup. While the brand of potato chip seemed quite generic, at least the flavoring had a famous, if not exactly prestigious, pedigree.
Who thought this was a good idea? Like everybody doesn’t already have a bottle of Heinz ketchup in their fridge. If anyone ever wanted to put ketchup on potato chips, they’ve had ample opportunity. And it’s not like we don’t all already know what ketchup on a potato chip tastes like, because of all of the, accidentally ketchup tainted, chips we’ve consumed, with sloppy sandwiches, in greasy-spoon restaurants.
Most of us, having tasted these carelessly condiment contaminated chips, have spent more time thinking of ways to prevent ketchup from polluting our pristine Pringles, than dreaming of whole bags of chips infused with the very essence of… ketchup?
I remember trying some of Kettle Chips gourmet flavors a while back, “Cheddar-Beer” “Vidalia Onion” “Vinegar and Sea Salt”. I paid money to try these flavors. None of them disappointed me. Even as a free snack, these ketchup-flavored chips left me feeling ripped-off. Somehow, ketchup just doesn’t make my mouth water the way those other flavors did. Now that I have tried them, I can’t imagine eating them, on purpose, again.
Since that initial experience, I have seen at least three different brands of Heinz ketchup-flavored, generic potato chips. This makes me think that Heinz itself may be behind this new proliferation of potato pollution. Have they developed a new dry ketchup powder that adheres to the grease on chips? Is this the same Heinz 57 brand dehydrated ketchup powder that comes with Easy Bake Ovens? Will we soon see other ketchup-flavored junk foods?
How long till we see ketchup-flavored cheese curls,
even ketchup flavored popcorn?
What about ketchup flavored Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner, ketchup-flavored corn dogs, and ketchup-flavored Spam? Perhaps this is the beginning of a new ketchup-flavored future for Heinz.
For years Heinz endured complaints about just how long it takes to get ketchup out of the bottle. Heinz even highlighted this apparent drawback, with the “Anticipation” ad campaign, but as our entire culture continues to accelerate, Heinz 57 ketchup has become the dial-up connection of the fast food world.
McDonald’s solved this problem, decades ago by putting ketchup in tiny tear and squeeze envelopes. These envelopes greatly sped up ketchup application, but the non-biodegradable envelopes quickly became, and remain, an environmental disaster.
Heinz eventually addressed this problem by marketing ketchup, especially for restaurants, in upside-down plastic squeeze bottles. These bottles can deliver ketchup with lightning speed, but they invariably produce rude and disgusting noises in the process, noises no restauranteur wants to hear in his establishment, and that no one should have to endure at the dinner table.
So, apparently, Heinz has opted for a strategy that won’t slow down fast food industry, minimizes waste, and eliminates the diarrhea noise. By adding ketchup to your food at the factory, Heinz will help the environment, and silence the slurp, without slowing down your hectic day.
Rather that adding ketchup, in the future, we’ll just look for the Heinz 57 logo. It will tell us, like the little “Intel Inside” sticker, tells us about our computer, that the food product is “ketchup equipped”. Ketchup will cease to be a bottle in your fridge, and increasingly become available as a preloaded application.
In much the same way that cell-phones evolved into smart-phones, new high-tech junk food will evolve into…. I don’t want to call them “smart junk foods”…lets call them, “Mwahahahaha junk foods”, with preloaded apps that let you tailor your junk food experience to your lifestyle.
Several developers are currently working on various hands-free devices, compatible with these new snacks, that will actually propel the snacks from the package, directly into your mouth. Some prototype systems wirelessly communicate with your cell phone, automatically shoving snacks into your mouth whenever you shut up for more than three seconds.
These systems remain in the development phase, but I have tasted the future of junk food, and it has ketchup on it already.