“How did they make old-timey ketchup?”: A Caterpickles Investigative Report, Part Three

If you’re just joining us, recently The Five-Year-Old asked me how Americans used to make ketchup in those bleak days before Henry Heinz brought his ketchup to market in 1876. Monday we found and translated an old-timey recipe. Yesterday we cooked it. And today we’re putting it to the test.

First, we had to establish our test parameters.

Mommyo: “What foods do we want to test the catsup on?”

The Five-Year-Old: “Hot dogs, chicken nuggets, bread, and french fries. And I want some new-timey ketchup too.”

(That’s right. It’s another health food night at Caterpickles Central.)

Mommyo: “Do you want to do a blind taste test?”

The Five-Year-Old: “What’s that, Mommyo?”

Mommyo: “It’s where I put a blindfold on you so you don’t know which ketchup you’re eating.”

The Five-Year-Old, decisively: “No.”

Parameters set, I prepared The Five-Year-Old’s test plate.

Taste test prep complete. The watermelon is there to alleviate my guilt over the rest of the plate.

The Five-Year-Old: “Mommyo, you forgot the Heinz.”

Oh right.

Mommyo: “So, The Five-Year-Old, what did you think?”

The Five-Year-Old: “I don’t like it on chicken.”

The Five-Year-Old tries an oven fry and a hot dog.

Mommyo: “Well?”

The Five-Year-Old: “Delicious on nothing. Which means not delicious. Too spicy.”

(My take, in case you’re curious: Tastes like A1. I actually like it, although I’m not surprised that The Five-Year-Old doesn’t. There is a strong mustard flavor to it. While I didn’t like our catsup on the chicken or the oven fries, it was reasonably good on the hot dog. But what I really want to do is try this with steak, on a hamburger, or as a replacement for store-bought ketchup in my Mom’s meatloaf. Fortunately I have lots left.)

Mommyo: “So The Five-Year-Old, do you want me to find another ketchup recipe that’s more like Heinz?”

The Five-Year-Old, enthusiastically: “Find the recipe for Heinz, Mommyo!”

Mommyo: “Hmm, it would be a lot easier just to buy Heinz.”

The Five-Year-Old: “Mommyo, do you have a recipe for Victorian-times ice cream?”

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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