What is a Ketchup?

2021 September 15
by mockers

Generally speaking, my first effort to solve any and all of my problems is to whine about it on Facebook. As such, I was recently whining on Facebook about how the phrase “tomato ketchup” is redundant. If I am at the store, and I see a bottle of ketchup, and I am in the United States of America, I am going to assume that it is tomato ketchup. There is no need for clarification. Save your ink; it isn’t necessary.

Instead of agreeing with me and perhaps chuckling softly to themselves at my weak attempt at observational humor, the pedantic fuckers that are my Facebook friends jumped on this like a hobo on a sammich:

“Nu-uh!! I’ve seen all sorts of ketchup! Here’s a link to a company that sells banana ketchup! I’ve also seen mango ketchup! Not all ketchup is tomato ketchup, you ignoramus! Besides, who are you to point out redundancy? Your name on Facebook is metten metten. Your name is redundant, you hypocrite!”

First of all, I love my Facebook friends. Their tendency towards pedantry is part of why they are my friends. I very much appreciate the attention paid to fine details. I don’t like being wrong, but I am used to it. I would always rather be called out as incorrect than to live my life dispensing false information. So thank you.

Second, go fuck yourselves. There may be other types of ketchup on the planet, but tomato ketchup is so prevalent in contemporary American society that I would be willing to wager all the money in my wallet (currently $2) that if one went to 1000 random grocery stores in the United States and blindly grabbed a bottle of ketchup from each store, at least 999 of the randomly-selected bottles of ketchup would be tomato ketchup. Even if I am correct, my Facebook friends are smart people…and they need the world to know that they are smart people. They need to right the wrongs. They need to make the correct argument. Just one single, “Oh yes…I guess you’re correct.” Will sustain my Facebook friends for a week. So yes, my asshole Facebook friends, I concede that there are many different kinds of ketchup in the world. I continue to maintain that writing, “tomato ketchup” pn the label is redundant.

Third, on the subjects of redundancy: there is nothing redundant about using the same sequence of letters for one’s first and last name. In linguistics, redundancy refers to information that is expressed more than once(https://g.co/kgs/3MjFbc). I will grant you repetitive. I will even give you unoriginal. I will not admit to redundancy in this instance. While they are the same spelling and pronunciation, the first series of letters is my first name. The second, entirely different piece of information is my last name. None of this begins to meet the definition of redundant.

Fourth, on the subject of hypocrisy: it is not the automatic, argument-winning smoking gun that you believe it is. I do my best to avoid hypocrisy. I do not find joy in being a hypocrite. Yet I can be proven to be a hypocrite at any given time with regard to a myriad of different subjects. Still, my hypocrisy does not make you right by default. I honestly believe that this is part of the problem that the United States is currently facing. For example, consider the current leadership of the entire state of Texas. They believe that government entities mandating the wearing of masks in response to a public health crisis is a violation of civil liberties, and therefore wrong. They simultaneously believe that government entities mandating what a person should do with their personal reproductive systems is a violation of civil liberties, and therefore right. I cannot think of a clearer example of hypocrisy. Many people are calling the state of Texas out at the top of their lungs. Maybe one day screaming, “Hypocrisy!” will be enough to sway voters and elect different leadership. Until that day, the status quo remains status quo and the people pointing out the hypocrisy are out of breath with a face as red as tomato ketchup.

This got me wondering, what specific qualities causes a condiment to meet the definition of “ketchup”? So, I looked it up: Merriam-Webster says, “: a seasoned pureed condiment usually made from tomatoes”. Oxford Languages defines ketchup as, “a smooth sauce made chiefly from tomatoes and vinegar, used as a condiment.” I suppose then, in order for a condiment to qualify as a ketchup, it has to be smooth and sauce-like in consistency rather than chunky, and it has to be used as a compliment to enhance the flavor of a dish rather than becoming the dish itself. Now that we know that, guess what the definition of “relish” is…” a condiment eaten with plain food to add flavor,” and “: something adding a zestful flavor”.

After that ketchup journey, I know three things to be true: 1) I both love and hate my Facebook Friends; 2) learning the English language is ridiculously and unnecessarily difficult because of things like this, and 3) you will likely be forced to read 1000 words about the redundancy of the phrase “pickle relish” in the very near future.

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