Did you know that Ketchup was originally made from cucumbers?

August 24, 2006

I bet you didn’t, and you know why?  Because it’s a total lie, albeit one that I believed was true and repeated as fact for like ten to twelve years before someone called me on it.  I can’t really figure out where I got this stupid idea from, but I think it was from reading an article in the Straight Dope about Heinz & their 57 varieties, and how they have a dill pickle on their label.  I think in my head I got it confused, and made up a story to myself about how one of their original “varieties” back in the day was a cucumber based ketchup, and that it wasn’t until sometime in the 20th century that they realized the tomato based ketchup variety was starting to outsell the cucumber one, so they switched to selling that one, mainly, and that eventually the cucumber one just went away. 

A key detail in this Clavenesque fantasy was the continued presence of a cucumber on the label, which, when combined with my acute case of Male Answer Syndrome really made for a convincing argument whenever someone doubted my nonsense.  I’m not sure how many people I bored at parties with this blatant mistake, but I can only hope that they, themselves, filed the information away, and like a bad mistake on the wikipedia, repeated my lies as gospel every time the subject of Ketchup came up from there on out.

Apologies for two straight ketchup posts, by the way, but that last post made me remember this ridiculous mis-wiring of my brain.

P.S. – Speaking of Male Answer Syndrome, this comprehensive list of Calvin’s dad’s explanations of scientific phenomena made my day.



  1. They originally started selling pickles, and moved into Ketchup, but for brand consistency the kept the pickle? I cucumber based ketchup? Seriously, stay out of the mounting booth.

  2. A friend of mine who took an entomology class said that her professor told her that there are a lot of ground up bug parts in ketchup…but, that really doesn’t make sense now that I’m thinking about it and maybe the guy was just anti-ketchup or something.

  3. I used to miss Calvin & Hobbes, and Seinfeld, but now I have your blog.

  4. How many conversations about ketchup have you had? Unless it’s regarding the ketchup vs. catsup spelling debate, I see no other reason (beyond “Please pass the…”) for it to come up at all.

    Besides, everyone knows that it was originally made from pickles, not cucumbers. Sheesh.

  5. mrkinsley said: How many conversations about ketchup have you had

    Oh my friend… if only you knew.

  6. I used to miss sarcasm, but now I have your blog.

  7. Pickles are cucumbers. Sheesh.

  8. Yes, but cucumbers are not necessarily pickles. Pickling is a complex process involving vinegar and… stuff. Which is why they stopped making ketchup from pickles, since it was more costly to go through that other step. And all the leftover pickle ketchup was fed to cats – hence the spelling of ‘catsup.’

    So there. [insert smiley face here]

  9. I could see the bugs being in there. After all, it is ground up tomatoes. Do you think they get all the bugs out of the tomatoe first?

  10. My mum makes ketchup with apples; good stuff too.

  11. My friend Leanna told me that back in the day people use to demand every ingredient on all food product labels, so and at the end of the ketchup bottle label it said “bugs” but since that was too appealing, they changed it to “natural flavors”. YUM…. lol XD….

  12. If you like anchovies, you would have loved the original recipe for ketchup, or katchop, if you will. The first concoction also had ingredients like shallots, wine, cloves, lemon peel and horseradish.

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