Your Ketchup Packets Could Be Collector's Items

Heinz is making those packets in your junk drawer worth something.

There are few universal truths in this world: The sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Pineapple on pizza will always divide the masses. And if you're in the habit of ordering takeout food, there's a pile of sauce packets in your home somewhere whose origins and expiration dates are unknown. This year, Heinz is working to turn that drawer of shame into a point of pride—the brand has announced a new line of condiment packets designed to be collectibles.

The limited-edition Saucemerica Packet Collection, as Heinz calls it, includes 50 United States–inspired condiment wrappers. There's a unique design for each state featuring its most well-known food. For example, Idaho's design includes French fries, and Wisconsin's packet includes—what else?—cheese curds.

You'll find the designs on packets of ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, ranch, BBQ sauce, and tartar sauce. The packets will be available wherever single-serve Heinz products are carried, including restaurants, drive-thrus, theme parks, movie theaters, and stadiums nationwide. To ensure collectors really can get one from every state, the company is making sure to deliver a variety of the packets to each operation throughout June, July, and August.

"From art to coins, stamps, and more, collecting culture has become a popular practice with devoted fan bases," Devaang Sibal, brand manager for Heinz Away from Home, said in the press release. "HEINZ fans everywhere collect packets in their homes, bags, and cars, to ensure they are always on hand in case of a condiment conundrum. With the Saucemerica Collection, we are excited to pay homage to this fan behavior with the unique, hometown pride-evoking designs and multiple chances for fans to win prizes."

Yep, there are prizes. To promote the Saucemerica packets, Heinz is running a contest in which contestants take a photo of each packet they collect and upload it to www.saucemerica.com. Heinz will verify the entries, and based on how many unique packets each person collects, they could win prizes ranging from $500 to a $100,000 grand prize.

When do sauce packets expire?

As for just how long those collectible packets will also be safe to eat, that's another story. Generally, collector's items aren't meant to be opened because they'll lose their value, but in this case a sauce packet must serve its purpose eventually, right? (Maybe not if you're this curator.)

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The general rule of thumb is that if anything smells off or has a color or texture not typically associated with that condiment, you're better off not consuming it. Otherwise, Lifehacker suggests the following:

  • Ketchup, Mayonnaise: 1 year
  • Mustard, Taco Sauce, Parmesan Cheese: 1-2 years
  • Tabasco Sauce: 3-4 years
  • Honey, Salt, Sugar: Indefinite 
  • So, don't be ashamed of your sauce packet vault. It's not that you eat too much takeout food, it's that you're actually a budding collector aspiring to claim a $100,000 grand prize.

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