I don’t normally do reviews of products that don’t come from Trader Joe’s but this is an important comparison and Ketchup is one of the most important food groups in America! The gold standard for ketchup in this country is Heinz. I grew up eating Heinz. We always had a couple of bottles in the fridge.
When I was growing up it was Heinz or Hunts and I hated Hunts ketchup! I had a couple of friends whose parents had Hunts and I would rather go without ketchup! We always bought Heinz until… well… until I found Trader Joe’s! I was hesitant at first to make the switch, but their ketchup was Organic and cheap! So I started buying it and I have never looked back…
For this review I just used Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup, they only have one type to keep it simple. I went to a regular grocery store in my area and was going to buy regular Heinz but right next to it I saw something called Simply Heniz Ketchup. While it’s not organic, it does mirror the ingredient list a little more closely than regular Heinz. Regular Heinz contains High Fructose Corn Syrup and Simply Heinz has just regular old sugar. Basically, they both have tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, onion powder and “spices”. Couldn’t be simpler than that!
I kept the comparison very simple. I put the ketchup on a plate and tasted it with a spoon. I chewed a piece of bread in between
tastings to clear my palate. Ketchup is a pretty strong taste if you just take it on it’s own without food, but I figured that was the best way to taste it without the influence of food. When I squirted it onto the plates I did notice that the Trader Joe’s seemed a tad thicker and darker than the Heinz.
First I tasted the Heinz. Ketchup is really smooth in texture. Nice vinegar and spice bite. Good tomato flavors. Just like I remember it. A classic Ketchup! Chew a piece of bread and then I tasted the Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup.
Texture is a little rougher, grainy compared to the Simply Heinz Ketchup. When I first put it in my mouth I definitely got a stronger vinegar and spice “bite” from this ketchup. On all levels the Trader Joe’s Ketchup just seems a notch stronger than the Heinz. I didn’t find the flavor profile to be all that different than the Heinz. It is a tad less sweet than the Heinz, probably because there is less sugar added, but that’s just speculation on my part.
I did the classic Hunt’s vs. Heinz test where I tilted up the plate and see which one is runnier than the other. I would say my test is inconclusive, but the Heinz did run down the plate in a blob much faster than the Trader Joe’s Ketchup. Not that that means anything but one more data point.
OK, you are wondering which one would I buy? I have to say that they are pretty close and there wasn’t anything really sticking out flavor wise that made me want to buy one over the other. In terms of packaging, I love the upside-down squirt bottle that Heinz comes in. The Trader Joe’s bottle is a throwback to the first plastic squeeze bottles and makes it just a little harder to get to the very last bit of ketchup at the bottom of the bottle. If Organics is your thing then I would go with Trader Joe’s.
OK as far as ratings go, I’ll give Trader Joe’s the edge because it has just a little more flavor than the Heinz Ketchup. I’ll give the Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup 9 bells and the Simply Heinz Ketchup 8 Bells!