These are desperate times in America. The pandemic is coming to an end, yes, but now we face yet another grave national emergency: a ketchup packet shortage. And when times get desperate, people resort to desperate measures. These are their stories (as reported by The Wall Street Journal).
The most obvious course of action is to go on eBay. The WSJ canvassed ketchup packet listings and discovered a wide range, from 25 cents to $5 a packet. There was also one outlier of $100, but that turned out to be a joke. (People did not take it in that spirit, however, and sent the seller angry messages.) On the ketchup black market, it is universally agreed that Heinz is the only true ketchup: one poor soul tried to sell 50 McDonald’s packets for $20 and, for his trouble, ended up with 143 views and no sale.
Meanwhile, others are trying to take advantage of the catastrophe. One Montreal-based condiment company has decided to promote its own alternative “gut friendly” ketchup. The hosts of a morning show in Poughkeepsie, New York, found a pile of unused packets in the station’s break room and gave them away to callers. Heinz Canada invited ketchup fans to post photos of their stashes on Twitter.
And then there are the people who are working together to solve the problem, because, as we’ve all been saying for the past year, we are all in this together. Some packet hoarders have donated their precious stashes to restaurants in need. Others who have been successful on eBay are donating profits to charity.
As for making your own, Claire Lower over at Lifehacker says forget about it. “I cannot tell you how many Portland establishments—even so called ‘dive bars’!—insist on serving their fries with fancy, artisanal, too-tomato-y ketchup, but I can tell you how much I hate it,” she wrote. “I hate it a lot.”
So go in peace, friends, through this sad, ketchup-less world. If you do manage to score a few extra packets, be warned: Heinz says they’re only good for nine months. If you are an at-home ketchup user, may I gently suggest buying an entire bottle?