I say “po-TAY-to,” you say “po-TAH-to”.
I say “tom-AY-to”, you say “tom-AH-to”.

But I don’t think anybody says "CAT-SUP"…nope, it’s KETCHUP.

So what’s the difference? Is there one?

The word for this bloody-red sauce came from China, “ke-tsiap”, which is/was a pickled fish sauce. Surprisingly, in the 1800s the term ‘ketchup’ was used in England while “catsup” was preferred in the United States. I would’ve thought it was the other way around.

Even so, it was always pronounced as “ketchup” and sometimes “katchup”….but very, very rarely as “kat-supp”.

Probably the tastiest (my own opinion) ketchup on the market is Heinz. Where their label lists it as ‘ketchup’ it started out as ‘Heinz Tomato Catsup’ until it changed to avoid ketchup confusion with other brands. Del Monte was one of the holdouts who used “catsup” until 1988 when they finally caved and switched to “ketchup”. Same with Hunt’s.

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Early ketchups were more like a tomato-y Worcestershire sauce, more watery than the thick ketchup we all know.

Okay, so is there any difference in the taste between catsup and ketchup? The usual ketchup ingredients are allspice, cinnamon, cloves, salt, sugar, tomatoes, and cider vinegar. Catsup can sometimes differ, with the ingredients of cayenne pepper, celery seed, cinnamon, cloves, onions, salt, sugar, tomatoes, and white vinegar.

So there really isn’t a major noticeable difference – taste-wise – between the two, although different companies do try to make their ketchup taste better or different than the others, with the elusive “catsup” sometimes tasting somewhat spicier.

Michigan was no stranger to this stuff, even preferring the term ‘catsup’ over ‘ketchup’. The gallery below shows a few Michigan tomato-red sauces, with most of them using the term ‘catsup’ for their product. Even though I prefer the term ‘ketchup’, I’d kinda like to see ‘catsup’ make a little comeback…

Ketchups and Catsups from Michigan


Michigan's General Foods Memorabilia & Products

Vintage Cereals of The Battle Creek Food Company

Michigan Meat Markets & Butchers, 1900-1920s

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