User-friendly ketchup packets

September 19, 2011

You know those packets of ketchup that make such a mess if you don’t open them just right? Heinz has developed a new “dip and squeeze” container that holds three times as much ketchup and can be opened by peeling back the lid, just like the jelly containers you get in restaurants. (It can also be squeezed through the other end, for use on burgers.)

Sometimes packaging doesn’t matter a whole lot. I don’t care what kind of cup my yogurt comes in, I just want it to taste good. And some packaging innovations actually lose sales. Last year Frito-Lay had to switch back to the old Sun Chips bags because the new biodegradable bags were too noisy. But once in a while I will pay extra for the right packaging – such as cartons of orange juice with a twist-off lid, so I can shake the carton before pouring without having to worry about juice coming out the open end.

Since I don’t use ketchup on fries in the car, I’ve never had to resort to opening the packet with my teeth, as some drivers apparently do. (And it certainly never occurred to me to squirt the ketchup right into my mouth, then add fries.) I like the idea of the new container, both for its flexibility and its size (I’m not a big ketchup eater but I’d always need at least two or three packets if I used ketchup at all). But does the difficulty of opening the traditional ketchup packet really have much to do with the decline in French fry orders?

According to this article, the economy has a lot more to do with it. People buy the sandwich and beverage but skip the fries to save money. Other people skip the fries for health reasons (especially in the case of children, who are encouraged to an alternative such as apple slices instead). And people who place their orders based on what’s new and interesting don’t find much in the fries category.

This article blames the decline on quality – or rather, the lack thereof. I do remember that fries used to taste better, but I thought it was my taste that had changed. I don’t really mind that they don’t taste as good, because I know they’re not good for me, and it’s easier to forego something that doesn’t really taste all that great.

Of course, lousy fries just make ketchup all that more important. (Unless, of course, you’re one of those people – like my husband – who prefer to dip fries in mayo.)