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The History of Ketchup

Ketchup is an iconic condiment that’s usually served alongside classic American foods like hotdogs and burgers. But did you know that it has a surprisingly ancient history? Ketchup’s direct ancestor is a fermented fish sauce from Southern China that dates back to around 300 B.C. The sauce was called “ge-thcup” or “koe-cheup” and made from fish entrails, meat byproducts, and soybeans. In the early 1700s, the sauce spread along trade routes and British traders developed a taste for it. They took samples home with them and changed the recipe. In 18th century Britain, ketchup recipes calling for all kinds of ingredients developed. But it wasn’t until 1812 that the first tomato-based ketchup recipe debuted – it is credited to James Mease, a Philadelphia scientist. However, preservation remained a problem until Heinz introduced their famous tomato ketchup recipe in 1876, which contained tomatoes, distilled vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and various spices. Over time, tomato ketchup became the main form of the condiment in the United States and Europe. Today, it remains hugely popular; Heinz sells more than 650 million bottles of ketchup each year!

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