Let’s talk about ketchup.
There’s no doubt in the world of condiments that ketchup must be ranked in the top five with mustard, relish, salsa and mayonnaise. If you want to expand the list, we’d accept any of the following sauces – soy, hot and barbeque. Line them up on a buffet table and feel confident your guests will be happy.
But this is about ketchup and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Pat Mahomes. Not only is he a leading candidate for MVP of the NFL, he is now a “brand ambassador” of the product for Hunt’s.
“I’ve been a fan of ketchup for as long as I can remember, and the thick, rich flavor of Hunt’s ketchup delivers every time,” said Mahomes, in a statement released by Hunt’s. “I’m thrilled to be joining the Hunt’s team.”
First thought: Ketchup is red. The Chiefs wear red. The connection is undeniable. If Mahomes gets some on his home jersey or helmet, who would be able to tell, accept the kid who does his laundry.
Here at Tiebreaker.com, our staff of experienced concession stand devotees have traveled the world, sampling the offerings of short-order cooks in hundreds of stadiums and arenas. As a result, we have been able to develop a standardize list of how and when ketchup is to be used. In other words, proper ketchup conduct.
Obviously, it is OK to use it on french fries and we do not mind if its puddled on the dish (for dipping) or smeared on the top to maximize coverage. It’s a free world, have at it. You may even double-dip, if needed.
It may also be used to dunk chicken tenders, cover the surfaces of hot dogs and hamburgers and perhaps, in some locations, dip a knish. We also can tolerate its deployment on certain cuts of steak, but only if A1 sauce (made by Kraft’s – a Hunt competitor) is not available.
And although we have no specifications about how it should be used at home, our panel recommends it be limited to dolling up meatloaf and sloppy joes.
However, we are very clear about where it should not be squeezed. We do not use it on eggs. We will never put in on pizza. And we will track down anyone arrogant enough to put it on spaghetti.
Which brings us back to Mahomes.
A few months ago in an profile about him in ESPN The Magazine, he admitted he put ketchup on macaroni and cheese. To us, this was akin to pulling a fire alarm in a crowded theatre. One never, ever should put ketchup on macaroni and cheese.
“People seem to think that’s a weird thing,” said Mahomes said about pairing ketchup with mac and cheese. “Some people think that’s disgusting, but it’s good to me.”
To our mortification, it was revealed that this undesirous coupling caught the attention of executives at the Hunt’s company. And since Mahomes is now one of the most popular athletes in the United States, it wasn’t long before the kid was signed to an endorsement deal.
In fact, if you look on Twitter, you can see the first example of what advertising representatives refer to as “product placement.”
Mahomes is sitting and doing curls with a weight on his right hand. In his left hand is a bottle of Hunt’s ketchup. With every curl, a stream of ketchup is squeezed from the bottle onto a dish of macaroni and cheese.
This is a major coup for Hunt’s. You do realize that the Pittsburgh Steelers play in Heinz Field? Henry J. Heinz, the German-American impresario who invented ketchup in the 19th century, set up shop in the Steel City. It was Heinz who thought up the company’s slogan “57 Varities” in 1896.
Heinz did offer Mahomes free ketchup for life he is throws 57 touchdown passes this season, which would break the record (55 in 2013) set by popular pitch man, Peyton Manning. That no longer seems possible. Mahomes has only 45 with two games to play. Heinz even tweeted last Thursday that he needed just a dozen more.
But why stop there, Heinz? We don’t think Ben Roethlisberger, who as of yet has not told anyone what his favorite condiment is, would have been insulted if you gave Mahomes some love.
From what we understand, Mahomes’ endorsement career will not be limited to pitching ketchup. His agent, the preeminent Leigh Steinberg, who currently represents 18 NFL players, has set him up with another product pitch, a breakfast cereal which will be named “Patty Flakes.”
We can only hope he doesn’t put ketchup on that.