Friday, February 05, 2010

Melba Toast and A Wedge of Cheese

I am not going to talk about Melba toast and a wedge of cheese, Company. Someone just said that while I was trying to think of a sweet title for this post. What I want to talk about is ketchup. Or catsup. Or whichever you want to call it. The reason that I want to talk to this awesome concoction of basically vinegar and tomato paste, is because it is delicious, we can eat it on anything, and we can eat it anywhere thanks to the iconic ketchup packet. It's sort of like the Campbell's Soup can or the McDonalds Golden Arches, you see it and you just know. Well, unlike those other icons of American consumerism (at one of which you can get handfulls of delicious ketchup packets), Heinz is in the process of redesigning the ketchup packet.
That's right, they are totally redoing that design that we have all come to know and love. See, apparently a lot of people, and I do mean a LOT of people, took exception to the ketchup packet. In fact, for all of you Facebook slaves there are actually multiple groups that you can join if you take issues with ketchup packets, like if maybe one offended you one time, or if you were scared by one as a small child.
Matt Kurtz doesn't like ketchup packets because one time on a road trip one spilled on his jeans. One would think that as a 22-year-old student who is obviously male, and who was eating ketchup presumably in a moving car, that he most likely would not care about ketchup packets all that much. And one would think that stain goes good with the chili, beer, nacho cheese, and grass stains that probably already inhabited those jeans. But nay. He does care. He cares a lot. Enough so that he started one of those Facebook groups. His is called "Prop 57" and it is to increase awareness about the shortcomings of the ketchup packet. Well, don't worry 22-year-old student and self-described ketchup aficionado Matt Kurtz who apparently has a lot of time on his hands, Heinz has listened and help is on the way.
Heinz has introduced a new packet, which is currently being used in some test markets, that will make your ketchup world so much better. And when I say new packet, I mean totally new packet. It features a sort of tub-like bottom, off which you can peel one corner of the cover so that you may use it for dipping. Sort of like the little tubs of BBQ sauce or honey or whatever. That would work well for scarfing down fries in the back of your buddy's Ford Taurus while on a road trip. On the other end it features a narrow spout that can be ripped off so you can squeeze out the ketchup in a more traditional manner, so you can have it on the wrapper of your Mc-Whatever with Cheese. That is also the preferred method for those ketchup traditionalists who just can't bring themselves to peel back the cellophane from the tub and dip their onion rings like all the crazy young kids are. And, AND, AND, the best part is that this new packet will hold roughly three times the ketchup that the normal styles do. Oh man, it's on like Donkey Kong.
Are you waiting for the catch? Because we both know that there is a catch. I know there is because I am going to tell you about it right now. The catch is that they are going to cost "a little more" than the traditional packets. Now, the thing that scares me and probably scares a lot of the restaurant folks out there is that is a pretty open ended sort of term. Plus, Heinz makes no plans to discontinue with the 11 million case per year habit that Americans have for the old packets. So vaguely more expensive new packets plus the continuation of the old ones; sounds to me like Heinz isn't quite sure that restaurants are going to be willing the pay the extra price for these packets.
The should though, because unlike many companies in this world Heinz seems to have put a lot of thought, effort, and consideration into this redesign. They have known for year that people have hated the ketchup packet because of it's lack of portability, or should I say lack of easy use while on the move, says Heinz Ketchup Vice President Dave Ciesinski (he is only the vice president of Heinz Ketchup because H.J. Heinz Co. makes tons of other stuff too, just in case you didn't know. Actually, the iconic "57" on their bottles and labels comes from the number of varieties of pickles they once made. True fact. Now you can go on Jeopardy! and be successful). So they have designed this packet with that in mind. In fact, they actually went out and bought a used minivan to drive around in and test their ideas for the new packet. And since scientists always wear white lab coats, you know it was like a double hard test to pass.
So look for those packets out there somewhere in some sort of restaurants. I really do think this is a good idea and I had to applaud Heinz for listening to their customers wants and desired, even if it took them years and years and years to do it. I would like to try one if I get the chance; if not, no big deal. But kudos to you anyway Heinz. I hope your packets are a slam dunk, dip, AND squeeze

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