Ketchup goes greenin search for new image

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The Independent Online

Is nothing sacred? In an age of rapid change and technological miracles, one of the standards of the dinner table is undergo a baffling transition: Heinz is to start making green ketchup.

Is nothing sacred? In an age of rapid change and technological miracles, one of the standards of the dinner table is undergo a baffling transition: Heinz is to start making green ketchup.

It will taste the same as the old red stuff (tomatoes can, after all, be green). But the new stuff will be in special squeezy bottles with a thin nozzle so you can, if the mood takes you, write your name on your fish fingers. The aim is apparently to give ketchup a new, hip image.

Heinz is a venerable old company, founded in 1869. The chairman of the Board is Anthony J.F. O'Reilly, who is also chairman of Independent News and Media, which owns The Independent. The company had seen its market share slip, but nifty marketing and the green colour should maintain its condiment hegemony.

For those of us who see the colour change as cultural vandalism, Heinz has some advice: get hip. "Green is going to be a shocker for a lot of adults," said Casey Keller of Heinz. "But kids don't have those hangups. The core idea is to give kids more control and fun over their food." And just to make sure parents are happy, the green ketchup will also have added Vitamin C.

Traditionalists should note that the red colour - and the addition of tomatoes - are recent ideas. Ketchup is Chinese, deriving from the words koechiap which means "brine of fish". It was made of pickled fish and spices. From there it became catsup, often made with walnuts or mushrooms. Tomatoes were a latecomer.

Ketchupologists at Heinz had conducted secret tests to try different ideas, including a short-lived blue ketchup. Green, they decided "has a little more kitchen logic". It will also be very useful on St Patrick's Day.

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