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Heinz outsauced

May 26th, 2011 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 3 Comments · Life

The latest bit of churnalism in the Guardian is about Heinz coming almost last in a blind taste test of tomato ketchups.  Interesting because it undermines two brands simultaneously: Heinz and Malcolm Gladwell.In his book What the Dog Saw, Gladwell has a chapter about Heinz tomato ketchup.  If I remember rightly, I expected it to be about how the stuff is no better than other ketchups but thrives purely on brand loyalty, but it confounded expectations by actually coming up with a technical reason why it is actually better – because its recipe means that the product contains all the different taste elements: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami while most ketchups only contain four or fewer.

I think that was backed up by blind taste tests too, but this new test has rather different results, leading to a conclusion that maybe people don’t prefer Heinz, they just think they do, and original suspicions that Heinz’s success owes more to the bottle and label than to the contents are looking likely again.

I’m not really a fan of the ketchup myself.  I use it to smother the taste of things I’m even less keen on like the whites of fried eggs or sausages.  I certainly wouldn’t put it on a roast dinner like somebody at my table in the canteen at work did yesterday.  It also works well to liven up a re-heated bolognese.

Back to the taste test though.  The winner was Sainsbury’s own brand, which only slightly surprises me.  Quite a few years ago I found a ketchup that I did really, really like.  It was less vinegary and more tomato-y than most and I used to sometimes use it in cooking – it was Sainsbury’s own brand Italian ketchup.  Bloody brilliant, so of course they stopped making it.

I still look on the shelves in case it magically re-appears.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Peter

    For a moment I thought I was still on the Bad Science blog.

  • rpcutts

    Sainsbury’s do that to me all the damn time.

    I’ll find something I like. Start to purchase it consistently then, all off a sudden, it’s gone. Never to be seen again.

    Damn and blast.