All the ducklings in a row.

Taste Test Thursday: Ketchup

French fries. Tomato sauce. Win.

Ketchup makes the world go ’round.

I like to squeeze bright red Heinz on my French fries, one by one. Little by little. That’s the only way to eat a guilty stash of McDonald’s, according to anyone who matters.

This week, I bought a bag of Tyson’s chicken nuggets and five bottles of organic ketchup for the sauciest taste test we’ve ever had. Tim Rogers had more to say about the chicken nuggets than the ketchup, actually. His words, not mine:

Before we begin, let’s talk a little about these nuggets. I am very impressed, especially knowing that they must have been microwaved (since management STILL refuses to install a convection oven in the office kitchen). The nuggets are moist and addictive. I could eat a dozen of them easily. (Confession: I ate a dozen of them.)

Good times, good times.

(Aside: My co-workers are enraged. I just told them the winner. “This is bull***t”! This is crap!” they say.)

A. Muir Glen’s organic tomato ketchup (via Sprouts)

B. Cucina Antica’s table fresh! organic ketchup  (via Sprouts)

C. Heinz’s organic tomato ketchup  (via Sprouts)

D. Sprouts’ organic ketchup  (via Sprouts)

E. Annie’s organic ketchup  (via Sprouts)

Ingredients: tomato puree, naturally milled sugar, vinegar, sea salt, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, natural flavor (whatever that means)

  • “I don’t know what’s in here. But it’s something other than tomatoes. I think it’s brown sugar. “
  • “Sweet, thick. It’s like dessert, honestly.”
  • “Super vinegary. Yuck.”
  • “A little bit thicker than the others; look like adobo sauce. Way too sweet.”
  • “Thick and vinegary.”


Ingredients:organic tomato puree, organic sugar, organic white vinegar, salt, organic onion powder, organic spices

  • “There’s a smoky, tangy base note to this stuff. And its almost chunky. I like.”
  • “Very acidic, metal taste.”
  • “Thin. No flavor. If this was the only ketchup on earth, what’s the point of existing?”
  • “This has a tartness to it. Almost citrus-y”
  • “Looks really thin.”

Ingredients: organic tomato concentrate from red ripe organic tomatoes, organic distilled vinegar, organic sugar, salt, organic onion powder, organic spice, natural flavoring

  • “That’s some thick catsup/ketchup. You can get peaks when you dip. Uniformly smooth. I believe this is Heinz.”
  • “Too sour.”
  • “Heinz. The best. Stop trying to make other ketchups happen, Gretchen.”
  • “I love you, Heinz.”
  • “Flat, tangy, too machined. Lacking texture. Heinz.”


Ingredients: organic tomato concentrate (water, organic tomato paste), organic sugar, organic vinegar, salt, organic onion powder, organic spice

    • “LOTS of pooling fluid around edges. And too sweet.”
    • “BBQ taste.”
    • “Watery and bland.”
    • “Has almost a malty taste to it. I like it.”
    • “Fun, slight spunk. Busty, decent.”

[Not sure if this dude is describing a girl or ketchup]

Ingredients: tomato paste, distilled white vinegar, water, cane sugar, sea salt, onion, allspice, clove (organic ingredients)

  • “Might be real catsup. Or ketchup. How are we spelling this? Slight watery pooling around edge of plate. “
  • “Very dark, sour taste. Acidic.”
  • “Whoa. Tastes like it hah some sort of ethnic spice.
  • “Not loving the water pooling on the plate. Good ketchup taste, though.”
  • “Balanced between sweet and vinegary.”



5 votes for (B) Cucina Antica
4 votes for (C) Heinz
1 votes for (A) Muir Glen


Okay, this is surprising. Heinz did not win, which is why Liz (sitting next to me) is pretty pissed right now.

People are passionate about their ketchup.

This week, I asked everyone to indicate their favorite ketchup and tell me which one they think was Heinz. 7 people out of 10 got it right. Not bad. I think this says a lot about America: We eat a dang lot of ketchup. Apparently, Heinz sells 650 million bottles around the world every year. That’s 2 packets per person.

Annie’s and Sprouts had pretty thin sauces, while Muir Glen was too sweet and a little too tomato-y. Besides, Annie’s tastes like trash. I don’t know. That’s not ketchup. It’s the Devil’s version of it.

So those got ruled out.

The competition was always between Cucina Antica and Heinz, and Cucina Antica took the lead for its blend of spices, tomato, and vinegar. It’s darker and has a more bitter taste than Heinz. A little more depth. A little more… somethin’ somethin’.

Heinz, well, is Heinz. We all know how it tastes. And it will, according to Liz, forever rule.


  • Mike

    Who the hell buys organic ketchup?

    • BradfordPearson


    • Carol Shih

      People who don’t like high fructose corn syrup, obviously.

    • Avid Reader

      Seriously. Flawed taste test from the get-go.

  • kindallas

    I’m with Liz.

    • Elizabeth Johnstone

      I appreciate the support.

  • Elizabeth Johnstone

    Well, hang on. It doesn’t have to be organic to lack high fructose corn syrup.

  • Kristen Taylor

    Huge love to whomever made the Mean Girls reference.

  • JtB

    While technically not Cats/Ketch up, one should consider Jufran when selecting:

  • Carol Shih

    Whoa whoa whoa, I worked hard to get that ketchup.

  • Avid Reader

    I have no doubt it was hard work and applaud your efforts as I don’t even think I’ve ever seen any of those used in this test. Did you have to order them online? Maybe you can have a second taste test with the good stuff that is probably less work to find. Then maybe have a third taste test of the top two from each.

  • Michael

    Where is the Cucina Antica sold?

    • Carol Shih


  • SDM

    why didn’t you include Whataburger’s flavors?

    • Carol Shih

      I decided to stick with organic ketchup.

  • Mike

    Seriously? You went to Sprouts and got them all.

  • Nancy Nichols

    I vote we let Avid Reader come to the office and do a ketchup taste test. we’ll pay, but he brings, organizes, and counts. Let the people speak, Carol.

  • Avid Reader