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The Ketchup Battle: Heinz vs Hunt's

Chris Amirault

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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.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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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).

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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. :-(

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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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.

Same thing happened with me when I bought a bottle of Muir Glen. That stuff is awful.

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  • 2 months later...

My wife has always been a Hunt's ketchup person but during their change away from corn syrup sugar it seems like it's gotten sweeter, something neither of us like. We tried some Heinz and it's not quite as sweet but it's still not what we're looking for. We've also tried some of the Whole Foods organic based on a friend's recommendation but we also don't like it. What other on the counter ketchups do you folks like? We really don't want to get into making our own, it just seems like more trouble than it's worth!

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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In the Spring 2011 issue of Entertaining/Cook's Illustrated (p.17), they have a sidebar where they discuss the results of a ketchup tasting. Of 8 brands tested, they recommended Heinz Organic and Hunt's, but declared Hunt's the winner...

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What other on the counter ketchups do you folks like? We really don't want to get into making our own, it just seems like more trouble than it's worth!

Have you tried Heinz's "Simply Heinz" Ketchup? It's a recipe that is made with sugar...no HFCS. The nutrition label says the measurement of sugar is the same (4 gr.) but you may find a taste difference.

I'd also suggest trying generic or store brand ketchup. My local Von's brand of ketchup is quite different than the name brand ketchups...you can really taste the spices in the ketchup. It's a refreshing change.


“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”


Tim Oliver

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  • 3 weeks later...

The other day I decided to go through my fridge and get rid of expired/unused condiments and whatever else might've been in there that was well past its "use by" date. There, sitting all nice and pretty, was literally 3/4 of a bottle of Heinz ketchup - with a "use by" date of 12/9/2009. Meaning I'd probably bought it sometime in 2008; 3 years ago!

So, obviously, I don't use the stuff much. Anyway. I replaced it with a bottle of Hunt's, and if I open it before it expires, I'll be interested to see how I like it.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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  • 2 months later...

We have continued experimenting with different ketchups to find the one we prefer. We tried one made by Tabasco which we thought would be quite good but instead found it to be quite vinegary and not at all appetizing. We've also tried Red Gold and really like it. It's got a very nice flavor with a good level of spice but not too much sweetness. I'm not sure how large the distribution area is for Red Gold, I know was produced in Indiana and we get a lot of their tomato products all of which are quite good. If you see it in your area it's certainly worth a try!

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

I dislike the sweetness of most ketchup, but Heinz "Reduced Sugar" tastes great to me. Much more tomato and vinegar flavor, and far less sweetness. It's 1g sugar vs 4g.

No HFCS, no added sugar, but they do use a small amount of sucralose.

They originally sold this as "Onc Carb" and "Low Carb" ketchup.

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