Okay, I get it: Heinz is listening to consumers and thinking about its bottom line, blah blah blah. But news today of the condiment giant’s spiffy new fast-food ketchup container has me shaking my head. Why? Because it’ll make super-size combo meals at the drive-through that much easier to order—and to eat.
According to a Heinz exec in this article in the Wall Street Journal, the annoying-ness of dealing with ketchup packets while behind the wheel actually drove many consumers to exclude fries from their fast-food orders. In an effort to eliminate the mess and annoyance, the company’s new pouch features options for dipping fries or squeezing ketchup directly onto a sandwich. And the pouch includes a heck of a lot more ketchup, too: The new “Dip and Squeeze” packet holds three times the ketchup as the old ones.
If the containers are bigger, will you grab fewer packets than you would have before, or will you just end up consuming more ketchup than you probably should? I’m thinking the latter. In case you’re wondering, there are 20 calories in a tablespoon of the stuff, and 160 milligrams of sodium, according to Heinz.com.
Also? I’m not particularly fond anything that makes eating oversize servings of French fries easier. That’s the opposite of portion control, people. And then there’s the argument that eating in the car is dangerous not only to your safety—ever see those ads where people drive off the road while searching around for a straw?—but also to your health. For years, nutritionists have been warning against “mindless eating,” the robotic kind of eating where you’re not paying attention and, before you know it, you’re looking around in astonishment asking, “Where in the world did that entire pint of ice cream go?” By definition, eating in the car is exactly that—mindless. So making it easier to eat a few French fries also makes it easier to devour the entire container without realizing it.
For the record, I love a good French fry. The skin-on ones with the sea salt that they’re doing at Wendy’s these days are delish. I’d just like to see us apply good eating habits—portion control, mindfulness—to fast food as well as seated meals.
A calorie’s a calorie, after all—no matter how many packets of ketchup you squeeze on top.