Catsup vs Ketchup: The Difference


Have you ever looked at a menu and seen that a burger is served with mayonnaise, onions, and lashings of catsup? We know what you are thinking, what on earth is it? Well, today we are going to give the answer. The good news when discussing catsup vs ketchup is that there is no difference at all. So why the funky name? Read on to find out!

Catsup vs Ketchup

Is There a Difference Between Ketchup and Catsup?

Alright, we know it has been driving you mad. Us too! But the truth is that there is no difference between catsup and ketchup aside from how it is spelled.

Ketchup… Or catsup is a red condiment made with a tomato base. It is commonly used as a dip for things such as French fries. It can also be used as a cooking ingredient in tomato based dishes or simply used as a sauce in various types of sandwiches. (Especially hamburgers and hot dogs).

Both catsup (or ketchup) are made with identical ingredients. Here’s what goes into each bottle:

1. Ripe Tomatoes

These are what give ketchup its signature taste, texture, and color. Ketchup is a deep red color. It tastes just a little tangy and acidic.

Have you ever bought cheap ketchup and noticed that it doesn’t taste quite the same as what you are used to? This is because cheaper kinds of ketchup use inferior quality tomatoes. The more expensive brands, such as Heinz, tend to be pretty picky about which tomatoes they use!

2. Sugar

You may have noticed a subtle hint of sweetness when you taste ketchup. We’d love to tell you that it is the tomatoey goodness giving that slightly sugary taste… But we’d be lying. The truth is that there is quite a lot of sugar added to ketchup!

3. Vinegar

Again there is another ingredient added to ketchup to bring out certain desired elements. We are talking about vinegar. You’ll notice that ketchup has a slightly tangy taste. This is because there is a fair amount of vinegar added to the recipe.

As an interesting aside, have you ever noticed how long a ketchup bottle tends to keep fresh and how you don’t have to put it in the refrigerator? This is because the high acid content of the vinegar acts as a preservative, keeping your bottle fresher for longer.

4. Salt 

Salt is used traditionally in ketchup and is added as a flavor enhancer. There is actually a surprising amount of salt in tomato ketchup!

5. Cinnamon

This is a little ‘secret’ that people don’t often realize is added. There is just a hint of cinnamon included in ketchup. If you’ve ever tried to make your own at home and thought that it didn’t taste quite right, this could be the missing ingredient!

Where Does Catsup Come From?


Are you ready to be amazed?

If you think its prolific use with French fries, burgers, and hotdogs means it was invented in the USA, you’d be wrong. The origins of ketchup actually have their roots in ancient China!

In fact, when looking at the difference of spelling in catsup vs ketchup, we can gain a little bit of vital knowledge when armed with this fact. 

Catsup or ketchup both have the same root word that comes from the Chinese term “ke-tsiap”. This name was used to describe a tangy fish sauce that has been found in China from about the year 1600 onwards. And it was tasty even then. Often merchants and sailors would try to recreate the taste in their own kitchens, only to be disappointed as they couldn’t readily get the herbs and spices to make this delicious sauce! 

How is Ketchup Made?

Making ketchup is not an easy process, and it is, in fact, quite labor-intensive.

Picking Tomatoes

As we have said, the key to great-tasting ketchup is to select the right tomatoes. The more expensive the ketchup, the more high-quality the tomatoes. Once sorted, the tomatoes are washed in an industrial process that removes all traces of bugs and dirt.

Following this process, they are chopped into rough chunks and quickly cooked in stainless steel vats to remove any last vestiges of bacteria.


Once the tomatoes have been prepared, it is time to start making something that looks vaguely like ketchup. The tomatoes are placed on a production line that pushes them through a pulping machine. This breaks the tomato down into a fine pulp. The seeds and skins are completely removed (think about it, you’ve never found a tomato seed in ketchup, right?)

Once they have been pulped, the mixture is forced through a fine mesh screen before being pulped again!

Additional Extras

It is at this stage that the ketchup mix is cooked. Other ingredients, like sugar, salt, garlic, and onion, are added. The mixture is heated to almost boiling in huge vats that continuously stir the pulp while it bubbles and boils. The vinegar is added later on in the process so that it doesn’t evaporate while cooking. This process usually takes around 50 minutes.


The job isn’t quite complete yet. Catsup companies love to make sure their product is as smooth as it possibly can be. A process, known as finishing, forces the ketchup through fine screens at really high pressures. This removes any stubborn fibers, lumps, and bits.

Air Removal

If the air was trapped inside the bottle, the ketchup would be attacked by bacteria… And nobody wants bacteria in their ketchup. For this reason, the ketchup mixture has all of the air removed before being bottled and labeled.

Related Does ketchup go bad? Find out the answer.

Did Heinz Invent Ketchup?

heinz ketchup

While you might be inclined to think that Heinz invented ketchup, this is not the case. Heinz being associated with ketchup is one of the greatest marketing ploys of the 20th century. In fact, there is a lot of things about Heinz that simply aren’t true.

Such as?

Ever heard about the ’57 varieties’. While you may think this refers to a list of ingredients, it has been discovered that Henry J Heinz came up with the number randomly while being stood in an elevator. 5 was his lucky number, and 7 was his wife’s lucky number. Considering that the US alone consumes $400 million worth of ketchup every year, we reckon it probably was very lucky.

All the above aside, Heinz was the first company to market and sell ketchup commercially, which is probably why people think that they invented it.

Ketchup and Catsup Facts | 12 Fun Things About Ketchup

  • You probably know that lots of people eat ketchup on a daily basis! Want to know how many? It is thought that around 97% of US homes have a bottle of ketchup lurking in their cupboard! If you can’t get your head around 97%, that is around 320 million people! That’s a lot of ketchup!
  • How much ketchup do people consume? Probably much more than you think! The average household in America goes through around 3 bottles of ketchup each year!
  • Ketchup is unique as a sauce. It contains few, if any, artificial preservatives. The elements used in ketchup, such as large amounts of salt and vinegar, help ensure that it stays fresh for a really long time. When combined with the cooking process described above, ketchup keeps for a really long time.
  • If you want to celebrate ketchup (and why wouldn’t you), then there is a national day dedicated to it! Get your pencil sharpened, and make sure to put this into your diary. June the 5th is national ketchup day! We can’t wait until it rolls around again! (jokes).
  • Ketchup has undergone quite a transformation from its origins. While today you associate it with being a smooth and tomatoey treat, it hasn’t always been this way. Want to know what was in the original recipe? It wasn’t tomatoes! The main ingredients used consisted of dried anchovies, mushrooms, and kidney beans. Mmm, delicious! 
  • To get the same nutritional value from ketchup as you would from a normal sized tomato, you are going to have to eat an awful lot of it. IT takes around 4 tablespoons of ketchup to match the nutritional value of a medium tomato. Don’t get us wrong, we love ketchup, but 4 tablespoons might be overdoing it slightly.
  • If you head down to the ketchup factory in winter, you won’t see much going on. Do you know why? Ketchup is only produced using tomatoes that are grown in the summer when they are at their ripest!
  • In years of extreme weather, ketchup production suffers. Just like wine grape harvests, ketchup can have bad years and ‘vintage’ years. If your ketchup tastes slightly different, they may not have changed the recipe. It might just be a bad year for tomato growers! The 2019 ketchup was a true delicacy!
  • If you’ve got some dull metalwork that needs polishing up, ketchup can be really effective as a mild cleaning agent. Because of the acids produced by the tomatoes, and the additional vinegar work really well to restore shine to pots and pans!
  • They have measured the speed of ketchup as it pours, and it is really slow/ How slow? Well, in terms of miles per hour, you are down to decimals. Ketchup travels at around 0.028 miles per hour. To put that in real terms, if you started at the bottom of a hill a mile long and waited for the ketchup to reach you, you’d only get a dollop on your burger around 35 hours later! That’s really slow!
  • Over 400 Americans every year report to the hospital with ketchup-related injuries. This normally comes from smashing the plate as they try and shake the ketchup out of the bottle. Other injuries include eye injuries when they have been too vigorous with their shaking! 
  • Want to know about the world’s largest sachet of ketchup? Sure you do! According to the Guinness book of records, the world’s biggest ketchup packet stands at a whopping 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide. And, get this, it weighs 1,100lbs! If you want to know how much ketchup that is, it is around 127 gallons. That’s more than enough for a few burgers and should last a while! 

Why Did Catsup Change to Ketchup?


Remember we were talking about Heinz? They have been so influential in the journey of ketchup, even to the point of deciding its name. Just before the 1900s, practically everyone was calling it catsup. 

Ever the marketer wanted his product to stand out from the crown, Henry Heinz, and needed a name that would still let people know what it was at the same time. The result? 

Heinz came up with the term ketchup. Let’s face it, it does sound remarkably similar, and bearing in mind that Heinz is probably the first name you think of when ketchup is mentioned, we think that this is a pretty shrewd move. It was so successful that nowadays it is very rare to see anyone call it catsup at all!

Is There Any Difference in Taste Between Catsup Vs Ketchup

In truth, yes, but not for the reason you might think!

Hey, wait, you said they were the same…

Indeed we did. But armed with the above facts, remember that Heinz was the first to market ketchup. You could say, therefore, that this is the original ketchup brand. Anyone calling their sauce catsup won’t be Heinz. Therefore you can expect a slight variation in the flavors and taste.


For all intents and purposes, you can consider the debate between catsup vs. ketchup closed. They are the same thing. The history of ketchup is actually really interesting. It is littered with marketing decisions that have shaped the future of this flavourful sauce. Whether we call it catsup or ketchup, we are delighted to pour it (slowly) onto a burger or onto the side of the plate when we serve French fries. What is your favorite ketchup accompaniment? Let us know in the comments! 


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