Why do restaurants and pubs persist with placing glass ketchup bottles on the table? Heinz describes them as ‘iconic’ – I think they’re just ‘awkward’.
Maybe it’s a first-world problem, but it’s one that always gets me in a twist nonetheless. Whenever I’m out for lunch, I come across the glass ketchup bottle and awkwardness always ensues.
According to the timeline on the Heinz website, the glass bottle started to take shape as far back as 1890. ‘The same style bottle can be found today in restaurants across the country’, states the accompanying text. And that’s definitely true.
A fun ketchup fact for you: did you know that ketchup exits the glass bottle at .028 miles per hour? Except for when it doesn’t exit the bottle at all – so basically every single time you attempt to use it. This results in a series of embarrassing attempts to coax it out in the most dignified way possible – not an easy task.
Usually this leads to several shakes of the bottle and a few firm taps, before eventually tempting enough sauce towards the top so that it’s possible to make contact with your knife. Congratulations, you can now smear it on your food like butter! And that’s when it goes smoothly… the alternative is much, much worse.
Your taps of the bottle prove so effective that its entire contents rush out (probably somewhat quicker than .028 miles per hour), turning your face as red as your food.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! In 1983 Heinz’s first plastic ketchup bottle hit the shelves – easy to squeeze and with no chance of completely ruining your food.
And if that wasn’t enough, the plastic bottle was given an upgrade in 2002 with the first ever upside-down version. We’d come a long way in 112 years. Another fun ketchup fact for the dinner table: the upside-down innovation reportedly earned its inventor $13m.
End the awkwardness
So why can’t restaurants embrace the plastic bottle and save their customers all the embarrassment and awkwardness? I’ve been told that the glass bottle is classier, more dignified, and of course ‘iconic’. But there’s nothing classy or dignified about the motions it puts you through when you sit down to eat in a public place.
And how upmarket can a restaurant really be where the option to put ketchup on your food (let’s face it – it’s probably chips) exists in the first place? Maybe there’s a darker reason – glass bottles can be washed… might there be some re-filling of the bottles with cheaper alternatives when they’re finished?
Maybe I’m thinking about it too much, but whatever the reason, are you as fed up with the glass bottle as I am?