Battle Ketchup: Heinz Vs. Whataburger

Categories: Grocery Guide

HeinzWhataburgerKetchup.jpg
Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Which processed tomato paste product will emerge victorious?
Some readers were understandably miffed that I ragged on HEB's Whataburger "Fries" without actually conducting a taste test. (The product description provided more than enough material for extended sarcasm.) And while I'm very willing to ridicule H-E-B for selling Whataburger mustard and ketchup, curiosity about the supposedly unique taste of these condiments got the better of me, especially after reader Shanna Bonana-Butler called the ketchup "wonderful" and reader Cheryl Harris claimed Whataburger has "the best ketchup ever."

I've only visited Whataburger a handful of times and had no recollection of its ketchup being particularly remarkable. Because, however, I am the type of person who puts ketchup on everything (including hot dogs, a practice that would definitely get me kicked out of Chicago), I was alarmed at the thought that my loyalty to Heinz had closed my eyes to other satisfying or even superior varieties. Upon further reflection, I also realized that the majority of those infrequent trips to Whataburger were prompted by excess alcohol consumption and therefore my memories might have been muddled.

Growing up four hours from Pittsburgh, Heinz's longtime global headquarters, meant there wasn't much diversity in the condiment aisle of our grocery stores. I remember looking at the few lone bottles of Hunt's and wondering who bought it, especially since it was never on sale and was a few cents more expensive than Heinz. Ketchup was also one of the very few products that never appeared in our household in generic form (Cheerios and Oreos also held this distinction) despite the fact that my parents instilled in me from a young age that being a whore to brands was a waste of money.

Perhaps it was time to question my values. I conducted a side-by-side comparison of Heinz and Whataburger Spicy Ketchup (Note: The "Fancy" kind was not at my H-E-B) using a homemade burger and some McCain's Smiles fries (which are so awesome, I may need to write a whole love letter post about them sometime). These are foods I would typically douse in ketchup and therefore fitting material for the test.
Whataburger Spicy Ketchup, as the name suggests, has more of an acidic zing than milder, sweet Heinz. I enjoyed it more on my burger than on my potatoes, perhaps because it complemented the melted slice of jack cheese I had on the former. Likewise, I think the simple starch of the Smiles called for a more straitlaced tomato condiment, which is why I found myself practically bathing the fries in Heinz so they sort of looked like they were grinning in a pool of blood.

So, which is better, Whataburger Spicy Ketchup or Heinz? Neither, really. Both are essential components of a well-rounded condiment larder. Non-Texan visitors to your home may more readily gravitate toward the Heinz due to tradition, but urge them to try the Whataburger. They may forget, as I did, to poke fun, as they add a second and third to their burger.

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50 comments
rgwalt
rgwalt

Whataburger needs to develop and sell a jalapeno mustard.  I LOVE the Woeber's jalapeno mustard, and I think it would be great on a Whataburger.  I skip the mustard packets when eating kolaches, and instead race home to eat them with my jalapeno mustard.

Also, the Whataburger fries at HEB really aren't all that bad...

MadMac
MadMac

Fun stuff, Ms. O'Leary.

Eric Dellafave
Eric Dellafave

Heinz... is for liberals... Whataburger is a Texas Institution in a dominate red state.

melusine1979
melusine1979

I don't really like Ketchup at all but I love Whatburgers

Clint Kirchhoff
Clint Kirchhoff

Somehow I don't feel like bottled Whataburger ketchup lives up to the standards of what you get in the little boxes at your local establishment, but it still beats Heinz.

Amy Ninetto
Amy Ninetto

I grew up in Pennsylvania so I've always had a kind of loyalty to Heinz. Until they started selling the Whataburger ketchup, that is.

Jay V Shaw
Jay V Shaw

Spicy Whataburger is so much better.

Amanda Musquiz
Amanda Musquiz

Whataburger. Never bought Heinz...it's not that great. But when Whataburger came out I had the date marked on my calendar.

Shanna Bonana-Butler
Shanna Bonana-Butler

Those whataburger products at HEB are excellent!! The spicy ketchup and mustard are my favorite.

karenp2
karenp2

Neither only organic.

Jason French
Jason French

Whataburger. I stopped buying Heinz products years ago because of their political views.

Matt Burns
Matt Burns

Whataburger, and the regular Whataburger ketchup is superior to the spicy one.

Greg Gerald Sosa
Greg Gerald Sosa

heinz.....i can add the Worcestershire sauce myself. and thats cause im from corpus where they are originally from.i still dont see why people get all wet over it

Joshua Aplnr
Joshua Aplnr

I have to question your "Texan" credentials by your question alone! Lol

Keene38
Keene38

Heinz was trying to engineer a sweeter tomato to mitigate its use of sweeteners. Also interesting that they flavor their ketchups differently around the world to appeal to tastes. The American version is actually a bit spicier than some other versions.

tiltingwindmills
tiltingwindmills

I only occasionally eat ketchup with fries (a bottle is not allowed to come any closer than 10' to one of my burgers or hot dogs). Always found most brand-name ketchups to be too damned sweet. I just want tomato-ey and some zest and tang. I either make my own, or look for the stuff with no HFCS and a minimal amount of sweetener. Or: curry ketchup, with no HFCS but sugar.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

For what they charge for that, they could have used real sugar instead of HFCS..

MadMac
MadMac

Replied the man at 08:00 in the morning.

MadMac
MadMac

Good point. Especially since Heinz is like 26% sugar--or corn sweetner.

jimbo1126
jimbo1126

@gossamersixteen I agree. NO ketchup with HCFS is in my house. Sorry Whataburger. And sorry Heinz Regular. 

metatronarchetype
metatronarchetype

Are you also going to stop eating Whataburger's ketchup when you go to Whataburger?   I mean, if HFCS has no place in your house, surely it has no place in your body, right?

electriceel12
electriceel12

@metatronarchetype Only the bottled version has HFCS in it; this had to be done for reasons pertaining to how it is packaged and stored on the shelves. 


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