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Do you consider ketchup a vegetable?

In Egypt, people put ketchup on everything. You even get little packages in bags of potato chips. I have separately takes two Egyptians to Pepe's for pizza, and while my back was turned, both asked the waitress for ketchup. One of the waitresses said, "Oh, god, no!" And last week when I made my best spaghetti and meatballs, one of my guests wanted to put ketchup on it. I put my foot down and told him he could walk into town and get dinner there. Last night, we had a quick dinner of hamburgers, hot dogs, left over macaroni and cheese and potato chips. Ketchup went over everything. So, since this particular guest eats almost no vegetables (cucumbers and my husband's squash casserole being the notable exceptions), I asked him if he thinks that ketchup counts as a vegetable. He said yes, ketchup is a vegetable. I think of it as a condiment, but I wonder if anyone else would agree with my guest.

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  1. did they understand your question the way you meant it? or were they thinking it IS made from a vegetable (which we know most people think, even though we know it is a fruit)?

    it is odd though that they put it on everything.... i wonder how recently this trend developed? or is it very old?
    the following is a fascinating glimpse into the growing ketchup industry -- esp. an insight into the evolving export market!

    >>>"""The industry garnered impressive sales not only in the seemingly mature US and Europe but also in the growing regions of Asia-Pacific and Middle East. With globalization of brands and products, consumers in the developing world have caught up with their western counterparts.

    Changes in lifestyle coupled with a lithesome approach towards career have fuelled the consumption of fast food. With the fairer sex becoming extremely nurturing over successful careers, the paucity of time has taken its toll on traditional food eating habits, bringing to fore the advantages of tomato ketchup. The wide palate of ketchup caters to different taste buds with a host of flavors. """<<<


    2 Replies
    1. re: alkapal

      Yes, he absolutely understood my comment and was very serious. They are 100% fluent in English as many young Egyptians seem to be, so there was no misunderstanding.

      I have no idea how this developed, but ketchup is absolutely ubiquitous in Egypt. Thanks for the link -- that is very interesting.

      1. re: alkapal

        This is interesting...
        The way I see it, Ketchup is sort of a mirror image of Mayonnaise in that the way they are used is very similar.

      2. Ketchup is not a vegetable in any way since it is made from fruit, cooked, and processed a whole lot.

        However, it is easily the most popular of The Ten Condiments.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Tripeler

          Ha, ha! Can you name the other 9?

          1. re: roxlet

            i was thinking of that list, too....or -- alternatively -- thinking of "thou shalt not".....

            1. re: alkapal

              Remember during Pres. Reagan's admin. the USDA proposed making Ketchup a fruit/veg. for the Federal assistance in the school lunch program. It never happened; after public review the nutritionists went ballistic over the sugar,(now HFCS) levels. Under Clinton they tried again with Salsa, it also failed. The classification had to do with minimum selection standards in school lunches that determined Fed reimbursement $$$$$.

              1. re: ospreycove

                Ketchup as a vegetable for school lunches was and is a scary thought. The processed salsa that's sure to be used in school cafeterias doesn't pass the test for me either, but I have no problem counting fresh salsa as a vegetable if the serving size is reasonable. Maybe they just need to call it spicy tomato salad...

                1. re: ospreycove

                  Why wouldn't salsa be a vegetable?

                  1. re: chowser

                    It was all a ploy to get around Fed regs. for the school lunch program. Relish was considered for Veg. status as well as pickles and some other condiments.

          2. Maybe my brain is addled, but does anyone remember something about the government considering ketchup as a vegetable with respect to school lunch programs?

            1. I don't consider ketchup a vegetable, then again I cringe at juice commercials touting the number of fruit and vegetable servings in a glass (I'm lookin' at you V8) and they at least have a legal leg to stand on. Vegetable servings aside, ketchup is one of my favorite foods. I wouldn't put it on pizza or spaghetti, but I use it as a dip for potato chips and recently even tried the Kraft dinner/ketchup combo. When I was growing up we use ketchup to top beans (green/string and dried) if fresh tomatoes were unavailable.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mpjmph

                MPJ.....Right, ketchup on homemade baked beans a Friday night staple in our family. I still like it!!!!

                1. re: mpjmph

                  I like ketchup well enough, and I love it on a hamburger. I don't have a lot of other uses for it though I have been known to dip a french fry or two in the stuff. My DH absolutely despises the stuff except for when he transforms it into barbecue sauce.

                2. Sure. French fries are vegetable. Make sure you get your French fries with your burger next time!


                  Combine your French fries with ketchup, you will get a lot of vegetables in your diet.

                    1. Not sure I understand the question why the distinction between a vegetable and a condiment? Do you mean that because you don't eat enough ketchup it can't count as a serving of veg/fruit? Or because there's sugar and other ingredients it doesn't count as a serving of fruit/veg? Or? Clearly ketchup is made from fruit/veg (tomatoes, bananas, etc.) as are other condiments such as salsas, sourkraut, babaganoush, etc. What about things like hummus - is that a vegetable/legume, a condiment, a dip, a spread, or all of the above?

                      I wouldn't count eating ketchup as the same as even eating a tomato sauce on pasta in terms of the veg/fruit content because of the relative volume (don't eat enough ketchup to count as a fruit/veg serving) and there's so much sugar and other stuff in most commercial ketchup I'd guess there is a net negative nutritional benefit from eating larger amounts of the stuff (that is to say, the benefits from the tomato nutrients are outweighed by the detriment of the preservatives, sugar, etc.). It's sort of like how I feel about creamed spinach - love it, but the benefits of the spinach are probably outweighted by the fat in the cream so it's not a dish to aspire to consume more of for health reasons...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: akq

                        Sauerkraut is a vegetable dish that is also used as a condiment - it was one of the few vegetables available year-around in northern Europe, and an important source of vitamin C, though of course they didn't know that at the time. Ketchup, however, is a condiment relish, similar to sauerkraut only in that it was invented as a strategy to preserve some of the tomato crop. What you get in bottles today bears so little resemblance to the original it hardly deserves the name.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          My point was that these categories (veg vs. condiment) aren't mutually exclusive. Not sure why you would categorize ketchup as a "condiment relish" but not sauerkraut as such...??? Isn't sauerkraut a type of relish?

                          What about apple sauce? Fruit or condiment? Does it depend if you eat it by the bowl or as a topping for pork chops? Does it matter if it's homemade or store bought or chunky or smooth?

                          What about pickles? Pickle relish?

                      2. The Supreme Court in Nix v. Hedden, 149 U.S. 304 (1893), has declared the tomato a vegetable.

                        Hence, ketchup being made from tomatoes would have to be considered a "vegetable" by extension.

                        (Yes, yes, I know Nix was about interpretation of the Tariff Act and not directed at botanical classifications ... can't you take a joke?)

                        1 Reply
                        1. I would consider ketchup to be a vegetable if I were taking a multiple choice test and the other 2 choices were "animal" and "mineral".

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Veggo

                            I would consider tomato to be a projectile if I were taking a multiple choice test in Spain and the other options were "fruit" and "vegetable".

                            1. re: steve h.

                              While the men in Spain are busy in the streets slinging tomatoes at each other and running with bulls, it would be a great time to be the only guy in a tapas singles bar...

                          2. There absolutely was an effort from the government to declare ketchup a vegetable in the 80's. It is also why we no longer see much of the term 'catsup' anymore. We wrote about this recently.

                            Ketchup vs. Catsup