First they came for the smokers. Then they came for the drinkers. They're coming for the fatty foods.
And now they're ruining ketchup.
For the first time in 40 years, Heinz ketchup is changing its famous recipe - by lowering the salt content in an effort to appeal to more health-conscious consumers, the company said yesterday.Heinz's recipe for ketchup was one of the world's perfect things: it couldn't be improved upon. Wrote Gladwell a few years ago:
Jackson said the company had been planning the change for about two years. But it is coming just as Mayor Bloomberg and other politicians are leaning on big food companies to kick the salt. Heinz was one of 16 major food manufacturers that last month signed onto the National Salt Reduction Initiative, a plan led by Bloomberg to get companies to cut back on the salt in their products.
Today there are thirty-six varieties of Ragú spaghetti sauce, under six rubrics—Old World Style, Chunky Garden Style, Robusto, Light, Cheese Creations, and Rich & Meaty—which means that there is very nearly an optimal spaghetti sauce for every man, woman, and child in America. Measured against the monotony that confronted Howard Moskowitz twenty years ago, this is progress. Happiness, in one sense, is a function of how closely our world conforms to the infinite variety of human preference. But that makes it easy to forget that sometimes happiness can be found in having what we've always had and everyone else is having. "Back in the seventies, someone else—I think it was Ragú—tried to do an 'Italian'-style ketchup," Moskowitz said. "They failed miserably." It was a conundrum: what was true about a yellow condiment that went on hot dogs was not true about a tomato condiment that went on hamburgers, and what was true about tomato sauce when you added visible solids and put it in a jar was somehow not true about tomato sauce when you added vinegar and sugar and put it in a bottle. Moskowitz shrugged. "I guess ketchup is ketchup."You simply couldn't improve on Heinz ketchup. And now it's being ruined for the healthists.
And, as Puddlecote points out, Heinz already had a low salt low sugar version out on the market. The health conscious consumers already had that option available. Read his whole post, of course.
Somebody please tell me that Watties here in New Zealand won't be implementing the new formula. Otherwise, I'll have to stock up. Any backlash in NZ would be very limited relative to what might be expected in the States as most folks here prefer a horrible tomato sauce (sickly sweet with minimal vinegar or salt) to proper ketchup.
Come the revolution, Doug Sellman, Michael Bloomberg and all the rest will be locked in a beige room and fed nothing but strained peas to a soundtrack of Enya. Come the revolution.