It seems the number of ketchup-related mysteries is ever-growing. One detail that has long haunted condiment connoisseurs is the difference between fancy ketchup and regular old ketchup. Why do Hunts and Jack in the Box both get to label their ketchup as “fancy” while others do not?
At last, it seems this mystery has been solved.
What makes fancy ketchup so much better?
— Leah Howell (@leahlistic11) April 25, 2017
What makes fancy ketchup so fancy anyway? #deepthoughts
— Profound Thoughts (@PrfndThoughts) March 5, 2018
It turns out the label “fancy” is associated with a letter grade. Every ketchup in the U.S. is given a letter grade by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):
“A (which is the highest grade and it’s called ‘fancy’), B (or ‘extra standard’), and C (‘standard’).”
A ketchup’s grade is determined by four factors: “color, consistency, presence of defects, and flavor.” Those factors are all run through this 21-page grading manual, issued by the USDA, that determines how any particular ketchup stacks up against the competition.
Whataburger Fancy Ketchup and Spicy Ketchup make fries just taste better.
— Texas Humor (@TexasHumor) March 6, 2015
A grade-A ketchup is allowed to label itself “fancy” but must first be relatively free of defects, have a nice color, and (MOST IMPORTANTLY) contain at least “33 percent total solids.” This gives the ketchup the nice thickness that everyone appreciates in their condiments. Grade B or C ketchup can legally contain more additives and fluids, making them runnier.
If that’s the fancy stuff, what’s the regular stuff like??
— Charlie B Paige (@whosonfirst6) September 12, 2018
Just because a ketchup isn’t labeled fancy doesn’t mean it hasn’t received an A grade! Heinz, for instance, doesn’t label itself as fancy but meets all the requirements. McDonald’s (which used Heinz ketchup until a former Burger King executive took over the sauce company), now makes its own ketchup, which also received an A classification.
Heinz ketchup is the best
— JoAnn Ashton Jackson (@vieragirl89) November 29, 2018
Idk why but McDonald's fancy ketchup tastes way better than normal ketchup
— whocayers (@_cayers) November 5, 2016
While grade B and C ketchups are no less healthy than A-graded ketchups, they often lack the same devoted following the thicker, smoother ketchups seem to attract.
Existential question: Can the regular catch up to the fancy?
— thismightbefunny.com (@becometheturtle) November 29, 2018
Now we know: The fanciest thing about a ketchup is its test-taking abilities. Enjoy your fancy burgers, everybody!
Does whataburger fancy ketchup taste like regular ketchup???
Help a girl out🤷🏼♀️😅
— Kayt🌵 (@Kayt_franz) December 1, 2018