What Is the Difference Between Catsup and Ketchup?

Catsup for some, ketchup for others; is there a difference? No, not at all! Both names refer to our favorite sweet sauce.

There is no distinction between Ketchup and Catsup. Catsup was the first name to emerge, and it is the more prevalent and proper spelling of this condiment. In any case, both phrases have been used in English for about 300 years.

Ketchup was originally spelled catchup, but it was eventually split into the two forms we know today. The tomato component was also included recently. No pun intended, but there was something fishy in the mix for centuries.

Let’s go back in time.

The Tomato Battle: Catsup vs Ketchup

The chemical catchup, catsup, and ketchup are all valid spellings recognized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The term catsup predates the term with a k. It was apparently used in a line by Jonathan Swift as early as 1730: Botago, catsup, and caveer, for our home-bred British gladness.

But, in 1876, the Heinz Corporation of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, started bottling and selling their brand of tomato ketchup with a k.

Earlier tomato condiment makers called their product catsup, but as Heinz established and maintained ketchup market dominance over the preceding 140 years, rivals like Del Monte and Hunts altered their spellings to ketchup.

The Verdict

There is no difference between ketchup and catsup. This is a kind of generalization.

For example, we refer to face tissues as Kleenex regardless of brand. A xerox is a machine that creates paper copies, whether manufactured by the Xerox business or otherwise.

The same is true with ketchup, which is not a trademark but simply the spelling of the product’s prevalent variation. Thus, ketchup rather than catsup, if you ask us.

The “Fishy” History of Ketchup

This tangy-sweet sauce came from an unexpected location and time. The first known ketchup recipe dates back to 300 B.C. China. It wasn’t even made with tomatoes for thousands of years; it was created with fish guts.

It is believed that the Chinese created ke-tsiap, which translates as pickled fish brine, by combining pickled fish with spices. Indeed, the original ketchup was made from fermented fish paste.

So how did the rest of the world get it? British immigrants in Fiji or Indonesia were most likely the first to find ketchup. The sauce was praised for its ability to survive lengthy maritime trips.

But, early British ketchup was nothing like what we today serve with fries. When this sauce first arrived in the United Kingdom, it was known as catchup, and it was any form of sauce for seasoning and preserving. Mushrooms, salmon, and walnuts were among the most popular additions.

Interestingly, the sauce’s confusing formula was introduced to America through colonialism. Nevertheless, since tomatoes were thought harmful (named poison apple) in the nineteenth century because to their likeness to deadly nightshade, they were not included in the catchup recipe right once.

Yet, in 1812, James Mease, a horticulturist and scientist from Philadelphia, included tomatoes into the sauces mix. He published a recipe that signaled the beginning of a new red era. It marked the transition of these fruits from poison apples to love apples.

But it isn’t all. The preservation principle, along with the rise of industrialisation in the late nineteenth century, led in a processed food boom. Total processed food production increased by 1,500% between 1859 and 1899.

These new processed foods were convenient substitutes for previously prepared foods. Moreover, major food manufacturers such as Pillsbury Quaker, Quaker Oats, Campbell Soup, and Heinz started standardizing their goods, recipes, and sauces.

They eventually developed an industry of ready-made sauces, producing and marketing crowd-favorite sauces like Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and others.

Henry Heinz of the Heinz Food Processing Corporation created the ketchup that we all know and love today. The company was among the first to see the sauce’s potential, popularity, and vital need for standardization.

Heinz redesigned ketchup by replacing the possibly dangerous preservation agent benzoate with additional vinegar, ripe tomatoes, and sugar, resulting in the sweet and sour taste we’ve all grown to love.

Ketchup Was Once Used as Medicine

Dr. John Cook Bennett of Ohio authored an essay on the medical potential of tomatoes that was published in newspapers in 1834. The article promoted tomatoes as a panacea for everything from dyspepsia to rheumatism to chlorella.

People enjoyed its advantages so much, whether it came as a sauce or a paste, that it was even offered as tablets, albeit very few of them included any ketchup or tomatoes. Unfortunately, the repute of this treatment quickly deteriorated, and Ketchup’s brief medical empire finally fell.

Fun Facts About Heinz Ketchup

Did you know that tapping the 57 on the neck of a Heinz bottle will speed up the ketchup pour?

The number is entirely fictitious; it is a marketing ploy devised by Heinz to lure more people to the brand. Yet, he adhered to it since he believed the number was auspicious.

Today, ketchup is a $500 million business, with Heinz selling more than 650 million bottles in more than 140 countries globally, generating more than $1.5 billion in yearly sales.


The development of fish sauce became catchup, catsup, and finally ketchup shows how one culinary item may spread and evolve through time and across nations.

There isn’t much difference between catsup and ketchup. The word “ketchup” very recently gained popularity. Whatever the moniker, producers were cautious to stress tomato on their labels in order to distinguish it from the fermented fish sauce of its early days.


Are ketchup and catsup the same thing?

The short explanation is that ketchup and catsup are both tomato-based condiments with vinegar and spices.

Why did they change catsup to ketchup?

According to a Heinz spokeswoman, Henry John Heinz first marketed his product as “Heinz Tomato Catsup,” but altered the spelling to differentiate it from rivals.

When did they stop calling ketchup catsup?

They used to call their product catsup, but in the 1880s, they changed it to ketchup to differentiate themselves. Ketchup eventually became the industrial and consumer standard spelling, however catsup strongholds may still be found across the United States.

Where did the name catsup come from?

It turns out that the roots of ketchup are everything but American. Ketchup is derived from the Hokkien Chinese term kê-tsiap, which is the name of a fermented fish sauce. It is said that merchants from Vietnam carried fish sauce to southern China.

What is ketchup called in Mexico?

While catsup is often used in various southern US states and Mexico, ketchup is the main word in American English and Canadian English.

What do they call ketchup in England?

The Brits also call their ketchup ‘tomato sauce,’ which in Italy may frequently signify fresh passata.

Does anyone say catsup anymore?

To differentiate themselves, the business first dubbed it catsup, but quickly changed it to ketchup. Ketchup is now the norm, however catsup is still used sometimes in the southern United States. Most ketchup — or catsup — today is made using the same basic ingredients: tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon.

Does mustard need refrigeration after opening?

Although Dijon mustard will not degrade at room temperature, you will get more bang for your money by storing it in the fridge once opened.

Why is Heinz ketchup upside down?

The upside-down bottle is designed to make ketchup distribution even simpler by using the plastic bottle design and gravity itself to help in the squeezing process. The ketchup keeps in touch with the closed aperture while sitting on its cap, preventing air from ruining it.

What was the original catsup?

Ultimately, the first recipe for tomato-based ketchup was published in 1812. The formula was created by James Mease, a Philadelphia physicist. He said that the best ketchup came from “love apples,” as tomatoes were known back then. (Some people thought tomatoes had aphrodisiac properties.)

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