The Ketchup Post

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These last few years, I’ve started worrying about McDonald’s.  Back in the day, they used to let you take all the napkins and ketchup packets you could want, which obviously was a sign that their business was booming.  Their current policy of rationing out two ketchup packets, though, seems to signify something else.  Could it be that times are tough for the golden arches; that the meals are, in fact, not as happy as we’ve been led to believe?

I can see the headline now: “4 Million McDonald’s Restaurants to Close Due to Years of Ketchup Mismanagement.”

Sarcasm aside, I don’t mind being handed a couple crappy ketchup packets, seeing that I don’t really like ketchup much.  However, this condiment packet stinginess has spread to Taco Bell, and if I can’t smother my burrito in mild Taco Bell sauce, I’ll be even more disappointed than I was when they stopped using the hilarious talking dog in the commercials.  I don’t understand why more places don’t follow Wendy’s lead, with their brilliant ketchup-dispenser-and-tiny-paper-cups method.  It seems cost efficient, plus I get an inexplicable satisfaction from filling the little cup up to the rim with ketchup.  It’s almost the same thrill I had as a kid when I’d make food out of Play-Doh.  That was probably the apex of my culinary skills; I can’t do much in the kitchen, but when I was four I made a mean Play-Doh hot dog.

Really, I could see this whole ketchup thing coming years ago.  My grandfather used to stuff his pockets with McDonald’s ketchup packets when I was growing up.  That’s my image of going out to eat with him – me looking down in embarrassment as he stuffed huge handfuls of ketchup packets into his Buffalo Bills parka.  He was ridiculously out of control.  You’d open the guy’s refrigerator and McDonald’s ketchup packets would literally come tumbling out of it.  Thinking back, it seemed like ketchup used to get stuck in the neck of the bottle way more than it does now.  I can picture my grandmother banging on the neck of a ketchup bottle with a knife.  No wonder Grandpa kept stealing ketchup packets – it was for his own safety.

He probably feared one day the ketchup wouldn’t come out she would turn the knife on him out of frustration.

But I remember thinking even back then that McDonald’s was being too nice with the ketchup.  I thought that if I ran a McDonald’s, I would only give packets to the drive thru people.  For the people eating in the restaurant, I would have one bottle of ketchup chained to the wall.  And it would be a really short chain too.  Just turning the bottle upside down to pour the ketchup would stretch the chain to its full length, for the sole reason of telling people, psychologically, that this bottle wasn’t going nowhere.

Either that, I thought, or I would rig the ketchup bottle with one of those exploding blue dye packets.  You know, like what they use for robberies.  If anyone took the ketchup bottle, I’d just laugh and think, “Steal my ketchup?  Okay.  Ink to your face, sucker!”

People would see the person out on the street a week later and be like, “Shit!  What happened?  Did you rob a bank?”

“No, man…I took a bottle of ketchup from fuckin’ McDonald’s…”

Of course I used to picture my grandfather all blue like a smurf.  That thief.  Another thing he would do, he would go to Sears and walk to the section where they sold Buffalo Bills sweaters (because that’s all anybody in my family, including myself, wore from 1970-2000).  Then he would, essentially, steal one.  He would rationalize it, though, in his crazy brain, by leaving one of his old sweaters in its place.  I wish he got caught doing that, because I would’ve loved to hear him explain himself to the police:

“Yes, I took it…but wait!  Wait just a second, Mr. Officer!  If you look on the shelf, you will notice that I left a very fine – slightly used – vintage 1976 Buffalo Bills sweater.  Sears can re-sell it…they only have to wash it first…I had an accident with a ketchup packet last Tuesday…”

Can you imagine trying to do that in any situation and thinking that leaving your old junk behind would be a fair exchange?  I can picture myself getting busted walking out of Best Buy with a Wii:  “Oh, did I pay for the Wii?  Um, no, no I didn’t…but if you go check the shelf, you will notice that I left in its place a Sega Genesis…that’s right…And I even left some games…there’s Sonic the Hedgehog…Altered Beast…Madden ’93…and MK…that would be Mortal Kombat my friend…I can go now, right?”

Ridiculous.  But I digress.  These times they are a changin’, and it saddens me.  What would it feel like to grow up in a world that’s so tightfisted, it only allows two ketchup packets?  Sure, it seems slight, but this new generation might never know the feeling of confidence one has when walking to the table with two crunchy tacos and nine sauce packets to dose them in.  That was a feeling of freedom.  Much like the first time I went to Wendy’s and was told I didn’t have to bring the tray to the garbage myself.  I could just leave it on the table.  Hearing that, it was like anything in the world was possible.

You don’t serve 8 billion people with 16 billion ketchup packets.  So open your heart McDonald’s, and let the kids have lots of ketchup.  After all, it’s the only vegetable they’re eating.

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36 thoughts on “The Ketchup Post

  1. Karin Babin

    Ok funny condiment story. Many moons ago, a “friend” decided she was gonna grab her backpack, and go solo road tripping. Except she had very little money and no car. So she decided she would ride the rails, hobo style, and survive off free stuff… Like pre-packaged relish, mayo, ketchup, you know, stuff. She bought several small fries over the course of a couple of days and collected as many free condiment packages as she thought would keep her alive for a week or two. Long story short, about 14 hours into this brilliant survival/money saving scheme, she came to a realization. Basically, it was “Screw this crap, I’m starving!” She hopped off the train at the next mountain town and hit the closest Wendy’s. She survived by exchanging odd chores for meals along the rest of the way. True story.

      • Karin Babin

        No, condiments rot your guts after about 2 hours. I miss the old me sometimes, “she” was pretty awesome. Kind of dumb though. Having family sure cages the free spirit. My kids are all free spirited too… uh oh… dear lord… My 12 year old daughter has been planning our girl’s trip. Guess to where? The steppes of Mongolia and hiking in the Himalayas. Yeah, she’s cool that little one :D I’ll let her figure out the financial part of that trip, and the logistics of attacking the Himalayas. I think it may be a while yet.

  2. I noticed McD’s have taken their “all you can eat” serviette containers away recently too! AND they dish out one at a time .. Recessions are a bitch even at the golden arches, clearly.

    Those lil paper sauce cups are bloody brilliant.

    I once had a party planned and got every friend I knew to go to Wendy’s in the lead up and nick off with as many of them as they could ..

    So every night people would come to my place with their stash – that was one seriously fantastic party. Jello-shots by the thousand. The cups were a bitch to pick up the next morning tho. Actually, everything was a bitch the next morning but you get that ..

  3. Really clever post, says a lot about the future too.. Left me smirking at my screen til I realized that I looked goofier than socially awkward nerd at an all-girl sleepover.

  4. Don’t forget, pizza is now a vegetable, too. according to the FDA. Kids are crazy with the vegetables!

    And you should start a “Help Save McDonalds” charity fund. I can’t imagine how it could not catch on.

  5. At least you’re given 2 ketchups. In my neck of the woods, they won’t even give you one, unless you ask for it. I’m a big ketchup eater… I put ketchup in everything I eat it’s disgusting. I consider myself a ketchup connossiuer. Del Monte is the best ! Believe me.

    Cheers, topiclessbar. Happy holidays !

    • Ew…Are you a ketchup on the eggs person? That’s rough. I love mustard. I put mustard on my fries, and on basically anything I can. It’s sad here because they don’t have real French’s Mustard, but instead some crappy mustard sauce that tastes more like honey mustard or salad dressing or something. I miss mustard!!!

      Happy holidays, Renx!

  6. Once upon a time, on a dare, I went up to this cute girl at Burger King and traded her phone number for two packets of ketchup. It worked too… though I was so caught off-guard that I forgot to ask for her name too – fail!

    Wouldn’t happen these days, because every fast food joint in Singapore has adopted the whole “dispenser and tiny plastic dish” concept. So that’s one pick-up line that has seen the end of days.

  7. I wouln’t worry much over McDo’s measly ketchup pack. I would start to panic though if KFC would start to give gravy by small cups and not have a gravy dispenser we Filipinos love to abuse by putting it over rice. LOL

    I digree though that ketchup’s the only thing that kids eat from Mcdo because even when there are pickles in the cheeseburger, they stilll pick that. Ha ha. Guilty.

  8. I would feel bad if we only got two little pouches of ketchup with a sandwich. We still have these teeny weeny plastic plates and that ketchup dispenser at McDonald so its not as bad. *Phew*

  9. If it makes you feel any better we don’t given ANY ketchup with our Mickey D’s in Australia. Maybe because we have tomato sauce instead of ketchup. But we don’t get any of that either :(

    • Have you considered protesting? There are so many human rights issues today…such as the North Korean people starving and the Australian people being denied their tomato sauce. I can only hope for a better day…

  10. Ketchup? Meh! I wouldn’t take those packets, you are so dismayed over, if the pulled a gun to my head. Well, Okay! I’ll take them. But only to throw them in the first dumpster I come across and rid the world of this abomination!

  11. Exodus

    i don’t dig fast food, and i’m not a ketchup lover. from time to time, however, i go to KFC, Lotteria or Popeyes with my friends. so, if you ever want presents from HCMC, drop me your address. (FYI, they give out Heinz ketchup packets generously at Popeyes) ;D

    • Haha – Oooh, Lotteria. That’s rough! I can’t believe they have Lotteria in Viet Nam – I saw one in Hanoi when I was there and it made me shake my head. What do you get there? Bulgogi burger? Shrimp burger?

      Sadly, I don’t even know my address. Isn’t that ridiculous!

      Good to hear from you, Lan. Hope you’re well. : )

  12. I laugh. I can imagine some old geezer stealing ketchup and sweaters. (?) And, “Ink to your face ketchup!!” Lolz…you said, “Just to symbolize, this ketchup isn’t going anywhere.” O.o……I just realized that your header says, “This is my life. Laugh at it.” I was laughing at your life and musings before I saw that, does that make me a terrible person?

  13. It took me like 15 minutes to read this post because I had to keep stopping to catch my breath and wipe my tears. I didn’t know a post about ketchup could be this funny. LOL! I’m more of a BBQ girl myself. It always felt like fast food chains were extra stingy with other condiments like BBQ sauce and Mayo

    • You’re dead on! They’re super stingy with BBQ sauce. And hot sauce too sometimes. We should record a song called “Fight for your Right to Condiments.” Or not.

      Thanks for the comments, Nogo Blogs! You rock. : )

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