The Gentle Art of Getting Ketchup Out of a Bottle

While the rest of us go about our lives, scientists have been hard at work answering important questions about ketchup.

We have all experienced the frustration of thick ketchup stuck in a bottle, and also the opposite effect: the ketchup explosion. But there is an elite group of ketchup consumers – Heinz says it’s only 11% of  us – that have been using a secret technique to achieve optimal flow. With the bottle at a 45 degree angle, they tap it on the 57, where the bottle begins to narrow, and through the miracle of physics, the ketchup flows.

Most of us probably haven’t given the how’s and why’s much thought. But Heinz certainly has, and they’ve made humorous ads focusing on the slow flow as a positive. There was a famous series of commercials in the late 1970s and 1980s featuring the Carly Simon song “Anticipation,” and here’s a more recent – and extreme – version.

That’s Dr. Ketchup to you

On the other side of the planet, Dr. Anthony Stickland, of the School of Engineering at the University of Melbourne in Australia, has done some ketchup analysis for us. His expertise is rheology,  the “branch of physics that deals with the deformation and flow of matter, especially the non-Newtonian flow of liquids and the plastic flow of solids.”

Did you know that ketchup is a non-Newtonian fluid? Oh, you better believe it’s a law breaker. There are other condiments in this gang of rebels which also includes things like paint, toothpaste, sewage and some mining products. So you can imagine why Dr. Stickland might want to spend time perfecting his ketchup technique next to the grill.

You can read the more detailed analysis, with the degree of angle and force required to dislodge the right amount of ketchup from the bottle at the University of Melbourne website, but the basic steps are these:




Scientists at Heinz worked on the sauce-and-bottle issue for 107 years. Using rheology, they finally arrived at the flexible squeeze bottle to overcome the problem. Still, many people prefer the familiar, solid feel of the glass bottle.




You want fries with that?

Which style of bottle do you prefer? The old-fashioned glass bottle or the squirt bottle?

Whichever you reach for, we recommend our favorite Duck Fat French Fries to dip in the ketchup. There really are no finer frites than those fried in duck fat.



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