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Apr 3, 2001 05:42 PM

Catsup And French Fries

  • d


Maybe this thread should be titled: "Foods you hate that everybody else likes."

I have one. Catsup and french fries. I hate the very sight of this combination. Yuck!

Catsup ruins french fries. To me, french fries must be crisp, crunchy, and salty. Catsup makes them all gooey and soggy.

On the other hand, I love catsup on other foods. Espcially on hamburgers.

Is there anybody else here who hates catsup with french fries like I do?


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  1. j
    Jason Perlow

    I dont disklike the combination per se but I hate it when it is served with the catsup already on it.

    Catsup and virtually every other wet condiment used for french fries should be in a sidecar for dipping. This includes gravy and cheese and mayo.

    The only other exceptions to this are chili (chili fries are a dish in and of itself, but it transmogrifies fries into something else) and possibly vinegar for eating fish and chips. Vinegar has to be applied onto the chips just right before eating. Same goes for lemon juice if you are eating it in greek fashion.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Jason Perlow
      Caitlin Wheeler

      I think it depends on the creature with which you are dealing. I agree with Dennis -- perfect french fries should be only with salt. However, often French fries are soggy on their own, and benefit immensely from ketchup. Vinegar fries are different. I would agree with your usual mandate on dippable sides, except the Barrow St. Ale House makes these wonderful disgusting artery-clogging gravy cheese fries which are fabulous fork food.

      1. re: Caitlin Wheeler

        Speaking of vinegar on fries, I was told that Canadians routinely put vinegar on their fries as opposed to ketchup. Go to any fast food place in Canada and you have the option of getting vinegar packets with your fries. So I was told. Never tried it, but it makes me want to go get some fries in Canada and see if they indeed offer vinegar. Would also like to see what kind of vinegar they use.

        1. re: Stevens

          And speaking of catsup...we were surprised on a trip to Windsor (Ontario) to see what was very popular--catsup/ketchup flavored potato chips. Of course we had to try. They're ubiquitous at snaek places, fast food, gas stations, etc. Dried, very red ketchup powder flocked the Lay's chips. Weird, salty but vaguely tomatoey taste. Once was enough. Is this a Canadian thing?

          1. re: Stevens

            You will usually see shaker bottles of malt vinegar next to the ketchup. Sometimes found in Maine, as well, since we're almost in Canada anyway.

            We also have ketchup chips.

        2. re: Jason Perlow
          Michele Cindy

          Wow - I couldn't have said it better! MY tastes exactly. BUT - I must have my fries super well done and very crispy. How about you?

          1. re: Michele Cindy
            Jason Perlow

            I like them thoroughly cooked but not burned. Theres a very fine transition point between the two.

          2. re: Jason Perlow

            **Catsup and virtually every other wet condiment used for french fries should be in a sidecar for dipping**

            While I also eschew Catsup on my fries I have to say I respectfully disagree with the above statement vis-a-vis Hot Sauce

            Hot Sauce and fries are an ideal pairing, the more of it, for me the better. And it makes such a difference to have the sauce put on the fries as soon as possible after they are made, to let the potatoes soak in the flavor of the sauce and become one.

            In fact this has been a recent bone of contention for me with my favorite takeout fried chicken shack - depending on the person who is taking the order, they sometimes refuse to put Hot Sauce on the fries/chicken when they come out of the fryer--Necessitating an unwrapping, and pouring of side car at the shack, so that some can soak in on the way home.

            1. re: zim

              "Hot Sauce and fries are an ideal pairing, the more of it, for me the better. And it makes such a difference to have the sauce put on the fries as soon as possible after they are made, to let the potatoes soak in the flavor of the sauce and become one."

              I'm having flashbacks!! When I was a college freshman, having taken my first set of exams, I went to a party and got completely blitzed. A group of us were ravenous and stormed the local fast food place - the name of which escapes, me - possibly Arby's...which was just about to close but we begged and pleaded and refused to leave until they served us. Ordered a large fries and grabbed the red squeezy bottle, emptied it onto my fries...wolfed down a couple and TSSST! discovered I had squirted hot sauce all over my fries, thinking it was ketchup.

              With eyes and nose watering prodigiously, and stomach still growling...I had to mooch off my friends because the kitchen was closed.

              Needless to say I'm more careful nowadays...and I can't abide hotsauce on my fries.

              1. re: zim

                I'm suprised that nobody has mentioned fries and Old Bay spice. The perfect combo of spicy and crisp.

                1. re: Steve T

                  How would you fix that? I think of Old Bay seasoning as whole spices for boiling. Do you grind them? Do they come pre-ground? Do you dip the fries in them, or what?

            2. p
              Pat Goldberg


              1. Catsup looks like something a feline would eat. Ketchup is the preferred spelling and goes back to the original Chinese.

                20 Replies
                1. re: e.d.
                  Jason Perlow

                  Its spelled interchangeably Catsup and Ketchup.

                  And the original Chinese is pronounced more like Kay-Tsiap. Which never was anything like what we put on fries.

                  1. re: e.d.

                    I think you may have failed to notice that we have a world language, with many dialects. Where I live the dish under discussion is known as "chips and sauce". Your way is not the only way.

                    1. re: jastity

                      I have indeed noticed, Jastity, that this is a world language with many dialects. I have also noticed that there are two ways to spell ketchup: the original English form which is closer to the etymological and historical roots of the word and the spelling, catsup, which does not reflect the word's origins. I think it is legitimate to prefer the more historical spelling and to encourage others to use it. This is not, as I see it, a matter of dialects. I mean no negative reflections on anybody's way of speaking and encourage you to continue to call french fries with ketchup whatever you wish.

                      1. re: e.d.
                        Brandon Nelson


                        Mr. Webster seems to think the 2 words are variants, and neither "preffered". That says a lot, don't it?

                        The original word is Malaysian in origin. It was likely adopted into English phonetically, as it sounds. I have vast experience with this situatuion with martial arts terms. It isn't uncommon to see the same word spelled a dozen different ways. Sometimes in the effort of capturing a sound that doesn't exist in the English language. None of them have ever been considerred "correct".

                        Spell it how you like, but don't lecture on what is or isn't correct.


                        1. re: Brandon Nelson

                          Gosh, Brandon, I don't believe I ever said one form was "correct." I simply said that there are two common ways of spelling ketchup in English and that the older, original spelling, ketchup, preserves more of the etymology and history of the word than catsup. Why someone would choose to use a spelling which is not only further from the word's history but also further from contemporary pronunciation is beyond me. I am just trying to encourage the usage that I find more interesting and preferable.

                          As far as Mr. Webster goes, he has been dead for nearly 200 years--but my American Heritage Dictionary lists ketchup as the main spelling and catsup as a variation. And I am certain that none of Mr. Webster's followers would say that catsup was "preffered."


                          1. re: e.d.
                            Brandon Nelson


                            Funny that this discussion occurs on Passover. I spent the evening following the English translations for the Hebrew Seder. I don't read Hebrew. I have heard enough to know that there are some sounds that are difficult to capture with our (English) alphabet. I'm sure both spellings were some English speaking attempt to capture what may have been a somewhat awkward word for the English tongue.

                            As for never saying one spelling was correct. Read the title of your original post. What do you get out of that? I see an attempt to correct someone. Don't you?

                            I think it's silly to argue the merits of the dictionaties we have on hand. The most current one I own is a 1993 Websters. Since you made a fuss over "preference" I had a look. None noted.

                            I think we are straying away from the mission of this board, and sight. F.Y.I. I have always preffered to use the "ketchup" spelling myself.

                            Chow to ya!

                            1. re: Brandon Nelson

                              I guess I should apologize for being curmudgeonly. I do not think that the spelling of this word is a matter of right and wrong. But I do think that one spelling is better. Chowhound is read by many people who write about food and who may never have thought which form to use. I was not trying to tell somebody that they were wrong, rather to inform those who write about food that they do have a choice and that (imho) one choice is better. I know (growing up in a Hunt's Catsup family) that I probably wrote it that way myself once upon a time. It wasn't until I researched the word (I was trying to freelance an article called "Ketchup and Cornflakes: American Foods") that I became aware of the etymology of the word. Since we take few words from Malay (and ultimately Chinese)I liked that ketchup preserves the flavor of the roots of the word.

                              Sorry to get us all off of food and onto words, but one thing I dearly love about this site is the range of ideas and opinions I encounter.

                              Hope Passover went well for you. Hope you all forgive me my digressions.

                              1. re: Brandon Nelson

                                'I think we are straying away from the mission of this board, and sight. F.Y.I. I have always preffered to use the "ketchup" spelling myself.'

                                You can spell ketchup however you want, but this is a site, not a sight! :)

                                1. re: Gotcha Gang

                                  and I think you should spell your first name Gotsa!

                                  1. re: Pat Goldberg

                                    "and I think you should spell your first name Gotsa"


                                    William Safire, the New York Times language columnist (and op ed fixture), calls the people who correct his mistakes the Gotcha Gang.

                                    1. re: Gotcha Gang

                                      Sigh... just a joke

                                      Ketchup Catsup
                                      Gotcha Gotsa

                      2. re: e.d.

                        The only brand of ketchup/catsup that I know of which uses the ketchup spelling is Heinz. I believe they have a trademark on that spelling. Thus, the other companies making a thick, tomato based, semi-sweet sauce needed a new spelling, and the best they could do was catsup.

                        Can anyone confirm this?

                        1. re: Peter

                          The word for the stuff comes from the name of an Indonesian condiment "kechap". I imagine the Dutch appropriated the general term (and it's derivatives)and applied it to what we call "ketchup"/"catsup" etc.

                          I don't think Heinz has a trademark on the word ketchup, it is just another form of the same derivative term and is used by other companies.

                          1. re: Heather

                            i just did a quick search and didn't find any trademark (on the gov web site for tm's) for KETCHUP per se. many for ketchup this, ketchup that, etc...and, w/ many of those, the owners disclaimed rights to the word KETCHUP.

                            the tm office probably regards it as a descriptive word, then. like you couldn't get a registration for 'mustard' or 'milk', at least not for use w/ mustard and milk...maybe if you wanted to sell shoes under the name mustard or something...


                          2. re: Peter

                            Since "ketchup" is a transliteration of the Chinese, the spelling is irrelevant. Ketchup, catsup, catchup or any other way is the same word and the same product, at least in this country.

                            1. re: Peter
                              Dave Feldman

                              I've actually written about this subject. Without getting into the Malay and Chinese variants, the bottom line is that when Heinz introduced the stuff in the U.S. in 1876, it was called "ketchup."

                              Hunts, which at one time, was a little more competitive #2, called it "catsup."

                              One of the Chinese variants has more of a "ca" sound than a "ke" sound, but most lean more toward the Heinz spelling.

                              Heinz seems to have won the war. I know the NY Times, for example, specifically mandates that "catsup" is verboten -- "ketchup" it is.

                              1. re: Dave Feldman
                                Jeremy Osner

                                And of course the obligatory Pynchon mention... in "Mason and Dixon" following the pair's sojourn in Africa, Dixon introduces pizza to England: "half a school of sardines in a sea of his beloved Indonesian 'ketjap,' atop a loaf pounded flat and sprinkled all over with Stilton cheese". (This phrasing is from T. Cortaghessan Boyle's review of the book, in NY Times Book Review; see link below.)


                              2. re: Peter

                                Okay, folks, that's enough. ALL spellings are starting to look funny to me. ;>

                                1. re: C. Fox

                                  Just spell it phonetically, whichever way you pronounce it, and you'll be all set.

                              3. re: e.d.

                                I am told by one of my know-it-all children that Catsup contains some sort of sefood base (like clam juice) while Ketchup does not. Fact or Fantasy?

                              4. c
                                Cliff Abrams

                                I agree. Ketchup ruins them. Crispy is best. Maybe a little homemade mayo.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Cliff Abrams

                                  Allow me to be the skunk at the garden party. I adore, crave, LOVE crinkle cut fries -- the long ones you get at the swim club when you are 10 -- with a thin, persnickety line of vinegary ketchup applied just before the fry is eaten, when the grease is hot and the ketchup is cold and lets you pop it in your mouth chew and swallow without burning your tender palate...The ketchup should come from a squeeze bottle to get the appropriate width. I think if you ate them this way you would abandon forever your inexplicable loathing.
                                  I also like fries with malt vinegar but that has to soak in, and mores the better if you pour Old Bay on top. Please make people stop eating fries with Mayonnaise, homemade or not.