Heinz Pickle Ketchup Pulls Its Punches

The new pickled-flavored Heinz is already predicted to see big sales. But how does it taste?

The rising pickle trend evident on fast food menus and grocery store shelves appears to be way more than a flash in the pan, with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Case in point: Heinz has just introduced its first innovation to roll out not just nationwide, but globally. It's Heinz Pickle Ketchup, a condiment that "combines the tangy and savory flavor of pickles with the unmistakable taste of HEINZ Ketchup."

"The current pickle craze in America mirrors the irrational love HEINZ fans have for the brand, so it only made sense for our newest ketchup to blend these two beloved tastes together," Katie Peterson, Director of Heinz Innovation at The Kraft Heinz Company, said in the press release. The announcement notes that 73% of Americans say they enjoy the taste of pickles.

The new Pickle Ketchup won't be available in the United States until early 2024, it has already started rolling out in the UK will continue to spread to other markets before the end of the year.

As one of America's top producers of relish, Heinz notes that it has a lot of history with pickles. The earliest keystone-shaped labels for the Heinz company, as far back as the 1800s, had a tiny gherkin on them. Founder Henry J. Heinz allegedly earned the nickname "Pickle King" for owning the largest pickle company in the country in the early 1900s.

The announcement further notes that this new ketchup, which combines two of Heinz's heritage products, is in a position "to win with HEINZ fans and pickle lovers around the world." But that all depends on whether the product can truly nail the flavor combination. Does it?

How does Heinz Pickle Ketchup taste?

As both an advocate for all applications of ketchup and an ardent pickle lover, I have a lot riding on this new condiment. I've chosen to try the ketchup innovation on the perfect blank canvas: a fresh batch of French fries, hot out of the fryer. Two of my favorite items have finally come together as one, but are they truly a match?

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Well, as with any real relationship, the pairing isn't perfect.

One dip of the fries into the new ketchup and the answer is immediately clear. The ketchup tastes like classic Heinz ketchup, full of sweet tang, blended with a dill scent and such a light dill note at the end that you might miss it if you don't get enough ketchup on your fry.

This isn't to say that Heinz is pulling a fast one on consumers by not delivering on what the product says it contains (as some brands have lately). Heinz Pickle Ketchup is clearly labeled as containing "pickle seasoning," which is exactly what it tastes like—a sprinkle of dill flavor mixed into a whole lot of ketchup.

Unfortunately, since this is meant to do justice to pickle fans, the ketchup falls just a bit short of that goal. For a brand that touts its pickle prowess profusely (say that five times fast) in the announcement of this new release, it seems to have fallen victim to the same mistake many other brands make when it comes to pickle products. There's not enough pickle flavor in this Pickle Ketchup for my taste.

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Since Heinz has so much experience in the business of pickles and sells its own relish and vinegar—and since Heinz ketchup already contains vinegar of its own—I would have hoped to taste more of that distinctive briny flavor that any pickle fan craves. But alas, 73% of Americans is far from 100%, and this is still a business that has to cater to the masses as much as possible. Perhaps a real mouth-puckering amount of pickle flavor would be too much for the average ketchup consumer.

Let me put it this way: Will I buy Heinz Pickle Ketchup when it hits U.S. shelves in 2024? Yes. Would I put Heinz Pickle Ketchup on a burger, or even (gasp) a hot dog? Yes. Would I still need to add actual pickles on that same hamburger or with that hot dog to get the full measure of pickle flavor I desire? Absolutely. My advice to Heinz and other companies looking to cash in on the pickle community's loyalty is to be bold and give us the pickle punch we're begging for. Trust me, we can take it.

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