Tomato ketchup has been a great condiment for meals over the years. Can you imagine eating a burger without ketchup or a French fry without your favorite tomato ketchup? I am sure the answer is no. Did you know that your favorite sweet and sour tomato sauce was once sold as a medicine? I bet you didn’t.
In the 1830s, tomato ketchup was sold as a medicine, which was used to cure ailments like diarrhea, indigestion, and jaundice. This idea of ketchup as a medicine was first suggested by in 1834, Dr. John Cook Bennett, an American physician.
Some of us consider tomatoes to be vegetables while some consider them to be fruits. Botanically, they are fruits but in the world of cooking, it is considered a vegetable.
Back in the days, tomatoes were found in a flower pot instead of a dinner table, as nobody thought to actually eat them. They were grown by gardeners as mere ornaments because they thought they looked interesting. However, once Dr. Bennet’s tomato pills hit the market claiming medicinal properties, tons of imitators began selling their own tomato-based pills instigating a tomato pill war.
These imitators began making wide claims that the pills could cure everything from scurvy, a condition caused by vitamin C deficiency to brittle bones. As we all know tomatoes carry antioxidants and vitamin C, but that is not enough to cure these ailments. Some of them went as far as selling laxatives with no tomato. Due to these false declarations, the tomato ketchup medicine cartel collapsed in 1850.
Although the tomato pill madness came to an end, that didn’t mean the whole product was put away too. In 1876, decades after the incident, Henry Heinz an American entrepreneur came up with the popular tomato ketchup we all serve and ear with our meals, by creating it with ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and a variety of spices. This recipe gained recognition as a non-medicinal condiment and was first made known as “catsup” in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.