Ketchup, Zippers and Pop Tops…

Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster

The Kraft-Heinz people is out with a new gadget to help you get the most out of your fast-food restaurant condiment package.

This little gizmo is called the “Packet Roller”.

It’s shaped like a little ketchup bottle and tiny enough to fit in your pocket of on your keychain.

This “Packet Roller” also has a cutter on it to slice open the packet and a slot to help squeeze out as much of the condiment as possible.

Not so sure I want this on my key chain since it’s bulky enough already and I can’t imagine cleaning off the ketchup after I’ve opened it with my “Packet Roiller” and dropped my keys into the puddle of red.

There’s about 3 ounces of ketchup on one of those packets, measuring about 1 and 1/2 inches by 3 inches.

We’ve had those packets since the mid 50’s after Harold (or Dale) Ross and Yale Kaplan came up with the idea.

I thought the “upside down” plastic squeeze bottles were a pretty neat idea after spending my really early years trying to encourage ketchup out of the long-necked glass bottles with a butter knife.

I also used to pound on the bottom of a glass ketchup bottle with the heel of my palm and usually wound up with a big, red “splat” of ketchup on something other than what it was intended for.

(Emily Post would have a fit!)

The Heinz people claim if you “firmly tap” where the bottle narrows near the “57” on the neck, that will encourage the red stuff to leave the container.

By the way, Heinz was a little late to the ketchup game.

The company didn’t produce a tomato-based sauce until 1876 and it was called “catsup”.

The term “ketchup” may have started as an advertising ploy when Heinz changed from “catsup” to “ketchup” to help its’ product “stand out”.

The tomato-based condiment is still referred to as “catsup” in parts of the South.

The Hokkien Chinese have a word “ke-tsiap” which is a sauce derived from fermented fish.

Want to “ketchup” with more facts?

Typically, ketchup is made with a tomato concentrate, distilled vinegar, fructose corn syrup, water, salt and natural flavors.

Each packet holds about .3 ounces of the stuff, just enough to be clearly visible on any lighter-colored material.

There’s also 10 calories per packet, 2 net grams of carbs plus 2 grams of sugar, and 95 milligrams of sodium.

The good news is there’s no fat, cholesterol or protein in a ketchup pack.

Most ketchup packs are only good for a year, probably less, if they’re cooked in the glove box of a car frequently parked outdoors on hot, summer days.

The “Packet Roller” seems like a good idea and you can even view a demonstration video at “Heinz-Packet-Roller-dot-com”.

Now, would somebody redesign the foil peel-off caps on coffee creamers?

We folks with hands like “Coco the Gorilla” sometimes have trouble snagging those little tabs that folks with normal digits possess.

It’s sort of like the neck collar button on my short-sleeved white shirt.

It’s the only one I need my wife to button for me even after she moved the button to another location.

The other gadget I really thought was a good idea were “chip clips”.

There’s simply no way to roll, fold or bunch an open bag of chips to prevent them from becoming rubbery.

There’s nothing worse than a chip that flexes or a pretzel rod that bends.

However, we did discover clip clothes pins work pretty good and even a large paperclip can step into the “chip freshness game” when called upon.

Those clothes pins can also prevent your breakfast cereal from getting stale.

The double lock zipper sandwich bags are pretty good, too.

The first plastic zipper bags came out in the early 60’s after Flexigrip bought the rights from a Japanese Company.

Prior to these, remember when you had a little extra top flap that you would tuck in to attempt to keep a sandwich fresh till mealtime?

Was it just me that grabbed the bagged sandwich at the bottom and the forces of gravity would send it to the floor?

The cracker people need to find a way to keep those cylinders of crunchy stuff crunchy after you open them.

I put my opened packets of graham crackers into zip-lock freezer bags to keep them from getting spongy.

The pull-tab lids and tops are another neat idea, along with twist-off caps.

Pull tabs were invented by a Hoosier, Ermal Cleon “Ernie” Fraze of the Dayton Reliable Tool Company. in the early 60’s.

When he sold the idea to Iron City Beer, their sales soared 400% in the first 6 months.

Ernie turned out to be a very rich man.

The twist-off bottle cap also came out in the early 60’s although some of the “big boy bottlers and brewers” shunned them because they didn’t think it sealed tight enough to keep air out.

I’m old enough to remember when you had to have a “church key” to open canned liquids or bottles.

I often wondered about the pointed end of that triangle that would puncture the lid so you could take a sip.

Seems reasonable to me that a little “crud” on the lid would be introduced into the drink.

Perhaps that’s why I’m really fair healthy for my age.

A little “dirt in the diet” probably didn’t hurt all that much.

Just like drinking out of a plastic garden hose.

I figured as long as I let the water run long enough to get cool, I was okay.

It tasted “less plastic” when chilled.

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