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Apr. 13 2009 - 9:23 pm | 109 views | 1 recommendation | 14 comments

Ronald Reagan Is Why We’re Fat


I’ve had an aversion to ketchup for as long as I began to care about what my food tasted like. Nobody understands it. Everyone I know likes or loves ketchup. Am I a freak? I was the lone ketchup-hater …  until I saw this quote in a New York Times feature discussing not really ketchup, but the design of the Heinz ketchup bottle:

I should come clean here by admitting that I like the glass bottle too, though not the taste of tomato ketchup — Heinz’s or anyone else’s.

via An Icon, Despite Itself – NYTimes.com.

YES! All this time, I thought I was the only anti-ketchup American in existence. I blame this sappy, gloopy, strangely acidic substance for America’s current fatassedness. The brilliant people at This Is Why You’re Fat need to consider this: Ketchup is why we’re fat.

The downfall began, in my opinion, at the hand — and glorious hair — of Ronald Reagan and his administration. Yes, it was the Gipper himself who got us into this fat mess by declaring that ketchup — a product loaded with high fructose corn syrup — is a vegetable, and counts as a serving of such. And this was in lucid, 1981 Ronnie!

This ketchup-as-veg logic tells the children and lesser-concerned eaters of the world this: Something made out of a concentrate, corn syrup and “natural flavors” is healthy for you. Screw broccoli and spinach, I ate ketchup today! Eating four potatoes worth of french fries … not so unhealthy because I dipped it in liquified, processed, sweetened vegetable concentrate!

Think of everything you put ketchup on. Hamburgers, french fries, hot dogs (which, if you use ketchup instead of mustard on and you’re older than 13 years old, you are truly misguided). My point here is that none of these things are healthy, yet ketchup is used upon them. Would you put ketchup on a nice roasted eggplant? Steamed broccoli? A salad? Bzzz.

This all went down while the Cold War raged. If anything, Reagan should have banned ketchup because it was red like the Commies. USA! USA!

Reagan isn’t the only president to try such gimmickry. Bill Clinton later recommended that salsa should be a vegetable, which I suppose is a bit more plausible since it contains chunks of actual vegetables, but still. What does one eat with salsa? Fried tortilla chips. Should we cut Clinton slack because he was busy focusing on other vegetables — mainly, his carrot (Hey-o!). And, to be fair, Reagan’s KetchupGate isn’t as simple as “Reagan did it,” but I’m having fun so deal with it.

Consider the reverse logic: Cheez Whiz is now a vegetable because people put it on broccoli. Cream of mushroom soup is a vegetable. No, wait: Vitamins are vegetables, because they contain the same nutrients. Idiotic, right? Why is it legitimate the other way around?

Yes, there is hyperbole and unrepentant sarcasm in this post. And sure, one can probably blame high fructose corn syrup — a product in ketchup — and countless other factors other than the tomato sludge for making Americans a bunch of live fat, die young heavy-breathers. But when processed, sugar-added products are considered by our government to be akin to some nutritious-and-natural food that our fine Earth sprouts with a little bit of care, then we’re not only fat — we’re freaking stupid.


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  1. collapse expand

    Ketchup has lycopene: check and mate

  2. collapse expand

    I am fiercely anti-ketchup. Tastes like too-sweet tomato sauce and it often includes high-fructose corn syrup.
    Here is a great mystery of New York: Why do waiters here assume that you want ketchup, but you have to ASK for mustard?

  3. collapse expand

    Haters. Mustard AND Ketchup on a hot dog. Malt vinegar AND ketchup on french fries. The combined powers of two or more condiments are multiplicative, not additive.

    Even better on fries — and only available in about 1 out of 20 Irish Pubs: curry sauce!

  4. collapse expand

    Only it’s not the Heinz kind with the lycopene and other phytochemicals. It’s the less processed, organic kind that can count as a veggie.

  5. collapse expand

    According to Gladwell in the New Yorker, ketchup, specifically Heinz ketchup, is also the only truly perfect food, in regards to taste.

    There is more than Ronnie involved in our cultural addiction to this condiment.

  6. collapse expand

    And whats with people in Chile putting mayonaise on hot dogs? does anyone else do that?
    check this Completo from Serious Eats
    I had one like it in Queens once. totally demented.

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    About Me

    Oysters. Bone Marrow. Spanish hams. Fish tacos. Shanghai soup dumplings. Sea urchin. Summer tomatoes still warm from the sun. There, my favorite foods are out of the way. To cut to the chase, food is in my genes. My father, grandfather and great grandfather were butchers. I've cooked for fun and pay since I can remember, helping out at my dad's catering company/butcher shop and eventually the catering wing of Zagat's highest-rated restaurant in the country (you've never heard of it). Why am I not a chef or caterer? I'm just too much of a pansy. I didn't want the hours/heat/instability to ruin my love for cooking, so now it's pure recreation. Since ditching the chef idea, I've written for many major news networks and magazines, spanning everything from a blood-soaked Marine invasion into Fallujah to Britney Spears' underwear (lack of, actually) to properly sourcing pork. I hope to share the deliciousness of life with you. Also, pancakes suck.

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