Why Does McDonald's Ketchup Taste Better Than Others?
You may think it sounds crazy, but McDonald's food tastes different than most other fast food restaurants. Sure, most of them all have the same basic menu: burgers, chicken, and French fries. But there's something about the way McDonald's makes its food that makes it top tier.
That's right, McDonald's ketchup tastes different — and some may say, better — than what you get at the store. And, no, it's not just Heinz ketchup masquerading in a McDonald's packet. McDonald's actually makes its own ketchup.
The Sticky History of McDonald's Ketchup
The first McDonald's opened in 1955 and in the 1970s, Mickey D's struck up a partnership with the ketchup giant Heinz. Heinz supplied McDonald's customers with its fan-favorite ketchup packets for more than 40 years. However, in 2013 Heinz was acquired by a new company with a new CEO, Bernado Hees.
Hees was the former CEO of Burger King, McDonald's fast food rival. Because of Hees' history with Burger King, McDonald's decided to end its 40-year partnership with Heinz and produce its own ketchup instead. Thus, this new tomato gold was made.
How Is McDonald's Ketchup Different?
After the McDonald's-Heinz partnership ended in 2013, McDonald's began handing out its own "Fancy" ketchup. Fancy is a qualification from the USDA that certifies it as high-quality ketchup (Heinz is also considered Fancy ketchup).
Fancy ketchup is a U.S. grade A ketchup that has good color, good consistency, good flavor, and is free from defects, according to the USDA. Grade A ketchup must also have at least 33% tomato solids — making it thick enough to stay in place on your food.
Admittedly, there are only three differing ingredients between McDonald's ketchup and Heinz ketchup, but it makes a difference. McDonald's ketchup consists of tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, salt, and natural flavors. Heinz doesn't have the water, like McDonald's does, and Heinz contains onion powder and "spice," while McDonald's does not.
McDonald's Ketchup vs. Heinz Ketchup
To put the ketchups to the test, we performed a taste test between McDonald's ketchup and Heinz ketchup. We dipped McDonald's French fries in room-temperature McDonald's ketchup, then room-temperature Heinz ketchup (we wanted to keep the temperatures the same in case it changed the consistency or flavors). Here are the results:
Heinz: The Heinz ketchup was thick and coated the fries well. It tasted tomato-y but had a big punch of spice.
McDonald's: The McDonald's ketchup was a little thinner, so it didn't coat the fry as much. It tasted mostly like sweet tomatoes without much spice. Almost like a tomato soup.
Even though there are only minor differences in the ingredient list, these two ketchups taste noticeably different. And if you like a sweeter, more tomato-heavy flavor, then the McDonald's ketchup is the one for you.
OK, so, maybe you've never thought about this ketchup question before. But next time you order your Big Mac, you'll definitely notice it.