10 years ago today: the day ketchup went green

Ketchup is a sweet-and-sour condiment typically made from tomatoes, vinegar, sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, and an assortment of vegetable seasonings and spices such as onions, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, and celery.

July, 2000

“It’s groovy, gooey and green. It’s flying off of store shelves faster than anticipated and has captured media attention around the world. Kids are even asking for it for Christmas.

So what is this newest advertising phenomenon? No, it’s not the latest replacement for Pokemon. It’s ketchup. You know, the red stuff you squirt on your French fries. Except this isn’t your mother’s ketchup. This stuff is green. As in spinach colored.

 Pittsburgh, the world headquarters of the H. J. Heinz company,  is center stage this week as the highly anticipated Heinz EZ Squirt™, the new ‘kid-friendly’ ketchup, makes its debut on store shelves. The product, available in both red and ‘Blastin’ Green,’ has been touted around the globe as one of the year’s most eagerly-awaited items.

There was never a doubt the EZ Squirt bottle would be a hit with kids because ketchup is inherently fun,” says Casey Kelley, managing director of global ketchup, condiments and sauces for Heinz. “But, the overwhelming response has surprised even us. It’s not often you see eight-year-olds demanding their own ketchup the way they would a new toy.”

Why does a simple thing like changing the color of ketchup create such a fuss? “Today’s kids are exposed to lots of vibrant colors and animation, and they expect these same experiences at the dinner table,” said Gene Grabowski, spokesperson for the Grocery Manufacturers Association. “To kids, food is about more than eating. Color, taste and touch are vital elements for differentiation. The innovation behind Heinz EZ Squirt’s package and eye-catching color is a great example of how an item can transcend its food status by first, delighting kids.”

Since July when the company first announced its plans for Heinz EZ Squirt – particularly the Blastin’ Green variety – the world’s largest ketchup maker has been flooded with requests from people trying to get pre-launch samples. Parent’s have offered to pay as much as $10 per bottle so their child could have the coolest birthday party on the block. There have been inquiries from schools, churches, movie studios and Hollywood celebrities. One person even tried to get a bottle by claiming to be related to Heinz CEO, Bill Johnson.

In October 2000, Heinz introduced other colored ketchup products called EZ Squirt, which eventually included purple, pink, orange, teal, and blue. These products were made by adding food coloring to the traditional ketchup. As of January 2006 these products have been discontinued.

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