Thursday, June 15, 2006

Heinz vs. Hunt's, with Hamburgers

Tonight we used hamburgers as an excuse to hold our Hunt's-versus-Heinz ketchup test.

To recap, I am growing increasingly disenchanted with that fussy, nonfun, faux-ignorant-but-really-with-an-unmistakable-air-of-superiority Cook's Illustrated, which recently crowned Hunt's the clear winner after holding a ketchup panel that included many other brands as well.

So on one hand, I wanted to prefer Heinz. I admit that. But on the other hand, I am always ready to discover a better food product, so I was prepared to accept the Cook's findings, if in fact Hunt's really was that much better.

It wasn't.

I mean, look -- no one is right here. That's why they call it a "taste" test. But Margy and I agreed with our friend Stevesie's assessment that Hunt's is just too sweet. It might have proceeded more slowly than Heinz down Cook's little "viscosity meter" (which I think is the same device that in the late '70s was called a Sea Monkeys Racetrack), but I'm not sure more viscous versus less viscous is really something I'm monitoring in a ketchup. As long as I can dip a french fry in it and it sticks, I'm cool. We simply preferred the flavor of Heinz. Margy did point out that this could be due to familiarity -- after all, it was the only ketchup we'd ever had in our house until I brought home a bottle of Hunt's for the test. But I think Heinz won because it strikes a more appropriate balance between sweet and tangy -- and it really is a lovely color. The Hunt's red isn't nearly as vibrant.

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