Fake News: Ketchup packages recalled (fondly)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Feb. 10) — H.J. Heinz Co. announced a recall yesterday of 807 trillion single-serve ketchup packets being distributed through fast-food outlets around the world. Company officials said the foil containers were not dangerous, but instead represented a minor inconvenience that on-the-go consumers of burgers and fries had endured for over 40 years.  

“In the current climate of corporate responsibility, we are committed to doing the right thing,” said Dave Ciesinski, vice president of Heinz Ketchup. “We are not about to let Toyota and Domino’s Pizza be the only ones out there telling the public what a load of crap their product line has been up till now. Our condiments and sauces have sucked every bit as much.”  

The new ketchup pack is shaped like a shallow cup and will serve as a “breakthrough dual-function container.” The top can be peeled back for dipping, or the end can be torn off for squeezing, and it holds three times as much ketchup as before.  

“The packet has long been the bane of our consumers,” Ciesinski said. “At least that’s what we’re telling them now. Frankly, most people never gave the product a second thought until we brought it up. Then, they were like all ‘we want something that’s easier to use in the car.'”  

A team of designers at Heinz spent the last several years giving focus groups actual road tests of the now grievously old-fashioned packages. The company bought a used minivan to study what each person in the vehicle needed. Passengers wanted the choice of squeezing or dunking. Moms requested a single pack that contained enough ketchup for the meal and didn’t spurt onto clothes so easily. Drivers yearned for something they could sit on the armrest, and for everybody in the back seat to shut the hell up so they could concentrate on driving while simultaneously talking on the phone, checking their hair in the mirror and eating french fries.  

The most important feature for teens — the ability to stomp on the packet and make it squirt ketchup across the sidewalk — remains unchanged.  

The old squeeze-only parcels, first introduced in 1968, were designed for people who preferred to tear the metallic wrapping with their teeth and then, when that failed, stop at the nearest dollar store to buy a pair of cheap scissors to cut it open. Ciesinski said that design was also carefully considered before its release, and may have been right for its time.  

“Where we failed was actually in a slight over-design,” he said. “The ragged perforations on the top and bottom edges always numbered exactly 57, in keeping with our ‘Heinz 57’ branding theme. But the public didn’t seem to appreciate this, especially as life became more and more hectic and people no longer took the time to count the notches.”  

Ciesinski said Heinz was now in the process of trying to “catch up” with the demands of the modern consumer.  

“Ha, ha,” he added.  

A bloodied victim of the now-recalled Heinz ketchup packet


One occupation I’m still waiting to see profiled on Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” series is corporate public relations writer. While I understand the allure of watching episodes about worm dung farmers, avian vomitologists and bologna makers, it’s the wordsmiths who create company press releases that for me hold the most appalling fascination. You imagine they have to stop at least several times during the average workday just to shower.  

I was reminded of this lower life form while researching the ketchup article above. Rather than attempting to satirize the actual story that ran on the business pages last week, I was seriously tempted just to reprint the actual release.  

What the heck; I’ll do it anyway:  

(Business Wire) — Whether you’re a dipper, a squeezer, or a health-minded ketchup lover, Heinz is giving everyone more ways to enjoy America’s Favorite Ketchup.  

Today, Heinz announced three ketchup innovations in response to consumer demand: Heinz Dip & Squeeze™, with a breakthrough dual-function ketchup package for the foodservice industry that promises to make eating on-the-go more fun and convenient; a reduction in sodium across its base ketchup line to support consumers’ desire for lower-sodium products; and the launch of Simply Heinz™ Tomato Ketchup, made with sugar, for the retail market.  

“For more than a century, product and packaging innovation based on a thorough understanding of what consumers want has been a critical part of the great success of Heinz Ketchup,” said William R. Johnson, H.J. Heinz Company Chairman, President and CEO. “Heinz Ketchup’s Dip & Squeeze product is just the latest milestone in our long history of packaging innovation. From the first plastic ketchup bottle to Top-Down™ and Fridge Door Fit™, Heinz continues to lead the industry in ketchup packaging innovation.”  

To Dip or Squeeze?  

A true packaging breakthrough, the Heinz Dip & Squeeze dual-function package gives ketchup lovers two ways to enjoy Heinz Ketchup: either peel back the lid for easy dipping, or tear off the tip to squeeze onto favorite foods. The new package holds three times as much Heinz Ketchup as the traditional packet.  

That means more ketchup when it’s wanted and where it’s wanted with less mess and a better overall dining experience. Now, busy Americans have a portable, clean and versatile package that makes it easier and more fun to dip or squeeze Heinz Ketchup no matter where they are.  

“Americans love Heinz Ketchup, and now the Dip & Squeeze product makes it easier and more fun for them to enjoy it on-the-go,” said Dave Ciesinski, Vice President of Heinz Ketchup. “From dipping nuggets and fries to squeezing ketchup on hamburgers or eggs, the Heinz Dip & Squeeze product gives consumers more flexibility, so they can have fun and enjoy eating Heinz Ketchup on whatever and wherever they want.”  

The new Heinz Dip & Squeeze product marks the first ketchup packet makeover for the foodservice industry in 42 years. In the past, on-the-go eaters have struggled to open multiple ketchup packets while worrying about making a mess.  

More Choices  

Heinz also is extending its range of lifestyle-driven products available in retail to include Simply Heinz Tomato Ketchup, which is made with sugar, instead of high fructose corn sweetener. The product will be available in 32-oz. and 15-oz. ketchup bottles beginning in March. This new addition extends Heinz Ketchup’s range of lifestyle products, which also includes Heinz® Organic Ketchup, Heinz® Hot & Spicy Ketchup, Heinz® No Salt Added Ketchup and Heinz® Reduced Sugar Ketchup. As the leading ketchup producer in the U.S., Heinz is passionate about providing its consumers with choices that fit a diverse array of lifestyles and dietary needs.  

Now with Lower Sodium  

To help in the effort to reduce consumers’ sodium intake, Heinz will reduce sodium by 15 percent in its core line of ketchup beginning this summer.  

“As the largest producer of ketchup in the U.S., Heinz is dedicated to meeting the growing consumer demand for better-for-you products, particularly with lower sodium,” said Idamarie Laquatra, Director of Global Nutrition, Heinz. “Heinz Ketchup is proud to provide consumers with lower sodium ketchup with the great taste that Americans expect.”  

This reduction in sodium will make Heinz Ketchup the lowest-sodium, nationally available ketchup in the U.S. So, whether people are on the go, eating out or at home, they will be enjoying the same great taste of Heinz Ketchup they love, with less sodium.  

Sharing the Love  

To give America’s ketchup lovers a place to express their love of ketchup, Heinz Ketchup is launching a Facebook fan page. The destination is a place for enthusiasts to share stories, videos, photos – anything and everything related to Heinz Ketchup. Fans of the Heinz Ketchup Facebook page also will be the first to receive exclusive news on new products and innovations, including the latest details on the launch of Heinz Dip & Squeeze.

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3 Responses to “Fake News: Ketchup packages recalled (fondly)”

  1. fakename2 Says:

    When I think “easier and more fun” I am usually thinking of certain battery powered devices. Now, with the availability of Dip & Squeeze, I just want to grab a partner and go eat some ketchup.

  2. tom1950 Says:

    Actually, I remember back when they were first introduced that it was great fun to hold a packet in the palm of your hand and slap someone on the back. When you drew back in horror and exclaimed “You’re bleeding!” the look on their face was priceless.


  3. Rocky Humbert Says:

    I hear that dentists are protesting the elimination of foil containers — as oral injuries associated with the packets were a reliable source of revenue.

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