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The Ketchup Battle: Heinz vs Hunt's

Condiments

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#1 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 12:31 PM

Let the Ketchup Battle begin.

In this corner: Heinz.

In the other corner: Hunt's.

Crouton dared us to try them side by side. And so we shall.
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#2 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 12:37 PM

Ingredients & Calories:

Heinz (from website linked above): "TOMATO CONCENTRATE FROM RED RIPE TOMATOES, DISTILLED VINEGAR, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CORN SYRUP, SALT, SPICE, ONION POWDER, NATURAL FLAVORING." It's in ALLCAPS, so it must be better, right? And only 15 calories per tablespoon.

Hunt's: "tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, salt and other seasonings." Note that HFCS has recently been removed. 20 calories per tablespoon. Yes, 33% more than Heinz.
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#3 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 12:48 PM

Herewith, the rules.

You agree to buy fresh bottles of the brand's basic ketchup (both are named, simply, "Tomato Ketchup") with relatively similar expiration dates.

You agree to buy or make ketchup-worthy foods for the sake of comparison.

You agree to blind, side-by-side taste tests, recording your impressions before revealing your preference.

Obsessively detailed tasting notes and close-up snapshots preferred.

Off to the store for two bottles of ketchup and a sack of Ore-Ida Crispy Crowns.
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#4 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 01:01 PM

Thanks to blogger/twitterer Winterpool, who shared This Malcolm Gladwell article on the popularity of Heinz. I've chosen not to read it carefully, as I prefer my own careful study this evening.
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#5 ElsieD

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 01:06 PM

I'm embarrased to admit this as I had previously stated that I am a Hunt's fan but I thought, I'll look and see if the ingredients in HUNTs is different in Canada than it is in the USA. So, what do I find? A bottle of Heinz tucked away in the pantry. All I can say is that it was not I who purchased this and a bottle of Hunts will find it's way into my shopping basket tomorrow.

Meantime, here is what the Canadian version of Heinz contains: TOMATO PASTE (MADE FROM FRESH, RIPE TOMATOES), LIQUID SUGAR, WHITE VINEGAR, SALT, ONION POWDER, SPICES. The ingredient list is in caps. Interesting to see the ingredients are a bit different. Oh, and there are 20 calories per 1 tbsp.

#6 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 03:21 PM

Excellent. Looking forward to your report. I wonder why they think you North of the Border types want extra calories.

What're you gonna test 'em with?
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#7 DanM

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 04:11 PM

I find Heinz Organic Ketchup to be superior to their standard ketchup. It just tastes fresher and more like tomatoes.

INGREDIENTS: ORGANIC TOMATO CONCENTRATE FROM RED RIPE ORGANIC TOMATOES, ORGANIC DISTILLED VINEGAR, ORGANIC SUGAR, SALT, ORGANIC ONION POWDER, ORGANIC SPICE, NATURAL FLAVORING. 20 cal per tbsp.

I will pick some up tomorrow night and participate.

Dan
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#8 ElsieD

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 05:59 PM

We need the extra calories because it's colder up here. :laugh:

I plan on doing my test with fries at a place where they make really good ones - made from REAL potatoes, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and a beautiful golden colour. (We spell funny, too.) Will report back when the assignment is complete.

Edited by ElsieD, 14 January 2011 - 06:01 PM.


#9 VibeGuy

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 02:08 AM

I suspect the difference in calories is smaller; the US standard is to round to the nearest five calories/serving, so it could be something like 17 for one formula vs. 18 for another.

#10 Chris Amirault

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 09:48 AM

ElsieD, we're living strangely mirrored existences: I got home with my bottle of Hunt's and the Crispy Crowns and discovered that we have no straight-up Heinz! Gotta get that for a comparison.

I will say that I preferred, much to my surprise, the Hunt's to the Heinz organic we had. Not a blind comparison, mind you, but still....
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#11 haresfur

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 04:43 PM

Ingredients & Calories:

Heinz ... And only 15 calories per tablespoon.

Hunt's: ... 20 calories per tablespoon. Yes, 33% more than Heinz.

Probably insignificant when you slather them on your chips/fries.
It's almost never bad to feed someone.

#12 ElsieD

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 03:39 PM

So on my way to the deli for my smoked meat platter I stopped at a large grocery store, one of the major chains. No Hunt's. Went to the deli anyway but it was closed. Went to the other end of town for a burg & fries and stopped at another grocery store, part of a different chain, no Hunts. So, I have to put this project on hold til next weekend as I can't get back to the deli until then. Meanwhile, I have the week to hunt down some Hunt's. I also like ketchup with mac & cheese so if I find Hunt's before then, I may try it with that instead.

#13 toolprincess

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 04:16 PM

McDonald's use a ketchup produced by Golden state foods.

"Mr. Hasco works for H.J. Heinz Co., the world's biggest ketchup maker. Heinz produces most of the ketchup served in U.S. restaurants, including those of Burger King Corp. and Wendy's International Inc. But the Pittsburgh giant has been locked out of virtually all of McDonald's Corp.'s 13,700 U.S. restaurants since the company failed to give it enough ketchup during a tomato shortage 33 years ago. Now it's Mr. Hasco's job to win McDonald's back."

that was in 2006 apparently some McDonald's are using Heinz now but they still haven't won them over completely

I have a friend who SWEARS by Del Monte ketchup and only DelMonte which has onion and garlic powders.

#14 jsmeeker

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 08:18 PM

I was in the grocery store today after work. Swung by the ketchup section to see what was the smallest bottle of each that I could buy. Saw all the Heinz. Lots of Heinz. Different varieties. Different sizes. Looked for the Hunts. And looked. Then saw the bottle. Yes. The ONE bottle. No, not one TYPE or SIZE of bottle. But really, one SINGLE bottle. It was very clear that Heinz was FAR more popular at this store. Even the store brand had more shelf space.

If the bottle was actually smaller, I would have bought it. But it was 28 ounces. Twice the size of the smallest Heinz bottle. Really, I don't need much for this test. Heck, a hotel room service sized bottle would be enough.

I did buy a bag of Ore-ida frozen french fries, though. I'll try to find a small bottle of Hunts at a different store.

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#15 Jenni

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 05:35 AM

Word of warning: I'm not a ketchup fan anyway so I may not be qualified to participate in this discussion!

It occurred to me that Heinz do many ketchup products, including organic, and also their UK product does not contain corn syrup. So what product are you actually comparing?

#16 Chris Amirault

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 06:00 AM

Those of us in the united states are comparing the base products that are linked in the first post. I suppose it's quite likely that the products are different in other countries, But learning from that comparison would be helpful too.

My results when I get to my computer.

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#17 Chris Amirault

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 01:01 PM

I squirted about 2 T of each ketchup into small glass bowls that I had labeled "He" or "Hu," while they were more or less blocked from view. Then I shuffled them around and couldn't remember which was which when I opened my eyes.

The color of A was a brighter red than B, which looked more caramelized. The texture of A was slightly thinner; B was more gelatinous.

A smelled more like a freshly cut, ripe tomato to me. B smelled like ketchup -- the first clue I had to my guess as to which was the iconic Heinz.

The flavors of A and B mirrored these impressions. I ate a bit of each alone and a bit of each with a few Kettle Salt & Pepper Krinkle Cut chips.

A was tarter and cleaner; there were few spice (clove, allspice, ...?) notes, just bright tomato. B was less tart and more spice, more tomato paste, and a definite, lingering trail of umami.

B tasted like Ur-ketchup. And so it was: Heinz. A was Hunt's.

Just to confirm that I wasn't loving all ketchup equally, I squeezed out a bit of Muir Glen organic ketchup, which was mealy, unbalanced, and lousy. Ended up in the trash.

So I can't say which one won. Both were great, but quite different. There's no question that the Heinz touched some nostalgic taste center in my brain. Not quite Proust's madeleines, but close enough for our little experiment.

Anyone else finally procure the duo?

Edited by Chris Amirault, 18 January 2011 - 01:57 PM.
ETA chip reference -- CA

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#18 Crouton

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 02:04 PM

Then saw the bottle. Yes. The ONE bottle. No, not one TYPE or SIZE of bottle.



Interesting... Here in Alabama there's roughly equal space for both Heinz and Hunts. I grew up in an exclusively Heinz household so it definitely has that nostalgia thing going for it... and to me it tastes like, well, ballpark ketchup. When I've got a nice batch of home fries cooked with nothing more than beef fat and kosher salt, I much prefer the clean bright flavors of Hunts... it's ketchup... for adults.

#19 jsmeeker

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 04:17 PM


Then saw the bottle. Yes. The ONE bottle. No, not one TYPE or SIZE of bottle.



Interesting... Here in Alabama there's roughly equal space for both Heinz and Hunts. I grew up in an exclusively Heinz household so it definitely has that nostalgia thing going for it... and to me it tastes like, well, ballpark ketchup. When I've got a nice batch of home fries cooked with nothing more than beef fat and kosher salt, I much prefer the clean bright flavors of Hunts... it's ketchup... for adults.



I'm just wondering if this is a regional thing or if it is just something about the particular store I went to. I was really surprised by what I saw. Obviously, the lone bottle was just a stocking issue. But even if it was fully stocked, it appeared they only carried one variety and size of Hunts.

Several versions of Heinz. Regular. ORganic. Salt Free. Some sort of "spicy" one. And there were different sizes, too.

I don't really want to hunt around for the Hunts. It's nice to go straight from the office to the apartment without stopping anyplace. But I really want to do this test. And I don't want to wait to long before I cook up some of the fries I bought last night.

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#20 ElsieD

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 06:12 PM

We have 4 major food chains represented in this city. I went to the third one yesterday looking for the elusive Hunts ketchup. They had none either. I have one more chain store to visit. If I can't find it, I will hit some independents. Seems that we have Heinz in the house because my spouse couldn't find Hunt's. I now know why. I'm not giving up, though, as I want to do this test.

Edited by ElsieD, 18 January 2011 - 06:12 PM.


#21 chappie

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 07:08 PM

It might have been interesting to throw House Recipe -- the ubiquitous Sysco ketchup (that many restaurants use to refill glass Heinz bottles ...) -- into the mix. I always loved it. I found it to be more complex on the spice notes than the Heinz it was frequently masquerading as.

I buy Hunt's at the grocery store, though. I think it's more vinegary. In fact, when the bottle starts getting empty, I often add cider vinegar and give the bottle a shake to loosen up all the stuff clinging to the sides, and I like it even better this way.

#22 jsmeeker

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 08:17 PM

I did this test today..

Posted Image

Hunts and Heinz. The contenders. Marked bowls my taping a piece of paper with He or Hu to the bottom.

Posted Image

The ketchups poured into the bowls. I blindly shuffled them around in an attempt to not know which was which.

Posted Image

I tried to take notes. When I was done, I spooned out the leftover ketchup to reveal which was which.


When I poured the ketchups, it was immediately apparent one was thinner than the other. I knew right off that this would make it hard to NOT know which was which. Ideally, it would have been better to have a helper to prepare the sample, but that wasn't in the cards. When it came to tasting, I was surprised. It was a lot closer than I thought. I found one to be "sweeter" than the other. The me, this was really the main difference. I had a hard time picking out other differences.

For me, there wasn't a winner like I was expecting. Both were pretty good. Does this mean I will switch over to the other brand? Nahhhh... I think I will keep buying Heinz.

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#23 ruthcooks

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 01:47 PM

I don't have to take any tests. After being raised in a family who bought Heinz ketchup by the case, I switched to Hunts about 10 years ago. Now when I taste Heinz I notice an unpleasant aftertaste and know it's not MY ketchup.
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#24 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 02:07 PM

There must be some real ketchup aficionados on my block. There is a tiny grocery on the corner that sells a little of this and a little of that, a few imported Irish products, because there is an Irish immigrant population in this neighborhood, sodas and beer, sandwiches. It's really not that well stocked in general, but there are five brands of ordinary ketchup last I noticed.

#25 heidih

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 03:31 PM

Heinz fans may want to branch out and try the product discussed here. Heinz curry ketchups

#26 Fat Guy

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 08:30 AM

I had Hunt's ketchup last night for the first time in years. During Passover we avoid grain-based foods, including those with high-fructose corn syrup. I remembered that Hunt's is HFCS-free so I grabbed a bottle at the Food Lion.

I have to circle back and do this as a true, comparative, blind tasting. But I'm shocked to report that, preliminarily, I and the other two members of my core family group (wife, son) liked Hunt's a whole lot. I think they must have changed the recipe, because I could swear Hunt's used to suck. But now the family is considering a switch.

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#27 gfweb

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 11:15 AM

We favor Hunt's.

#28 Chris Hennes

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 11:25 AM

I think they must have changed the recipe, because I could swear Hunt's used to suck. But now the family is considering a switch.

They did. Must have been some five odd years ago now? I don't recall exactly.

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#29 IndyRob

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 02:18 PM

For me, there wasn't a winner like I was expecting. Both were pretty good. Does this mean I will switch over to the other brand? Nahhhh... I think I will keep buying Heinz.


If the results turn out to be this close overall, I wonder if there is a clear winner on price (I suspect not).

#30 OliverB

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 02:25 PM

I'd be curious to do this test with more than one brand, and maybe even different within brand ones, but if my wife opens the fridge to find 5 or 6 barely used bottles of ketchup in there I won't be safe.... :laugh:

That being said, I recently switched to organic Heinz, since it's mostly my kids eating mass quantities of the stuff (if I let them) and no nasty chemicals seems like a good idea. Tastes quite good too.

But I'm not religious about a brand in most cases. Heinz is usually available and tastes good, so I get that, if there's only hunts, fine, and if I need some and I'm at Trader Joe's I'll get theirs etc. I've never had BAD ketchup, they taste a bit different, but not as much that I'd go and make a special trip for one brand.

I use ketchup as a cooking ingredient too at times, cases where a tomato sauce just isn't quite "there" yet and I can't figure out what else to add, a tbsp or two of ketchup might just do the trick.

I have to try the curry ketchup soon, have a bottle from Germany in the fridge right now, but the people that sold it (and sausages) at the farmers market haven't been back in a while. :-(
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