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Whether you spell it ketchup or catsup, the tangy tomato-based condiment is in peak demand during the summer as Americans take aim on hot dogs and hamburgers.
A forerunner to ketchup known as ke-tsiap or kecap originated with Indonesian and Asian cultures hundreds of years ago as a spicy pickled sauce for ﬁsh made of anchovies, walnuts, mushrooms and kidney beans. British seamen brought the condiment home with them in the 17th century and changed its name to catchup. By the 18th century, New Englanders were adding tomatoes to the mixture.
Full-blown commercial production started in 1876 when Henry J. Heinz started bottling ketchup. Although he was not the ﬁrst to produce ketchup, his recipe caught on and remains the same to this day. Competitors soon were bottling their own formulas under the names of catsup, katsup, catsip, cotsup, kutchpuck, cutchpuck and even cornchops, which was brieﬂy produced by Hunt’s for the state of Iowa.
Ketchup does have healthful properties. Its base is cooked tomatoes, which contain lycopene— shown to have cancer-ﬁghting properties. Still, the scientiﬁc world rebelled when ketchup was declared a vegetable on school lunch menus for a brief period in the 1980s. It would be absurd to declare a hot dog smothered in ketchup a health food, but it’s summertime—the time to indulge.