The alienating process of “social distancing” or, “light quarantine” as it has been deemed in my house, has provided interesting challenges culinarily. A trip to the grocery store has shifted from the day-to-day to a moderately horrifying ordeal. In these chaotic times, comfort food is a blessing- and what is more comforting than the vivid, intense childhood all-purpose condiment ketchup?

Etymologically, ketchup, sometimes also transliterated as catsup, orginates from a Chinese fermented fish sauce ke-tsiap. Ke-tisap, dating back to the 300s BCE, likely arrived in China by way of Vietnam or other southeast asian countries. 1700s British merchants grew fond of the sauce, and sought to replicate it at home. The umami-heavy sauce was replicated using mushrooms, and a variety of fish- sometimes oysters.

American attemtpts at ketchup in the 1800s integrated its now defining ingredient: tomatoes.  In 1876, Henry J. Heinz began mass-producing ketchup and now, Heinz defines the ketchup market: while originally marketed as “tomato ketchup”, ketchup in itself is synonymous with tomatoes.

Butler, Stephanie. 2012. "The Surprisingly Ancient History Of Ketchup". HISTORY. Gladwell, Malcolm. 2004. "The Ketchup Conundrum". Newyorker.Com. Trowbridge Filippone, Peggy. 2019. "Learn The History And Origins Of Ketchup (Or Catsup)". The Spruce Eats. Wiggins, Jasmine. 2014. "How Was Ketchup Invented?". National Geographic.