Benton County Pioneer Life

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Pioneer life in the Benton Co. WA area

Catsup Bottle Thing of Past/Chefs live in Troubled Time

Tri-City Pioneer
Tri-City Herald, Sunday, 1 July 1962

There is something pathetic in the passing of the old catsup bottle. When one enters an eating place nowadays, he does not find the waitress busy cleaning the ever-messy catsup bottle. The old catsup bottle is no more. It has joined the brass cuspidors of the Gay-Nineties; shades of Old Doc Willey, the first administrator of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. How he used to preach against the use of catsup. He was very vociferous against the benzoate of soda that colored and embalmed it.

In the olden days, all the catsup-bottle labels bore the content of the ingredients, including the preservatives used. Not so today. There is a new red plastic bottle bearing a simple inscription in white letters, "Ketchup," and on the bottom of this bottle is an impression of a chicken's wishbone, which evidently wishes the user plenty of luck.

The chefs that I have interviewed concerning this new plastic contraption are overwhelmingly against its use. They say it is heartbreaking for them to prepare a juicy steak, place it on a hot platter with tender care, arrange the hashbrowns just so, garnish it with bayleaves, olives and water cress, and then place it as a gourmandic inspiration before their waiting customers, only to have them grab the new plastic Ketchup applicator and spew on a red fresco an inch deep over the entire masterpiece of cuisine art. The chefs say that they have studied the actions of these diners and have arrived at the conclusion that these heavy addicts to ketchup use it not so much to flavor the food as to lubricate their gullets so that the food will slide down faster.

There seems to be a lack of food enjoyment by so many people of today. Something must be wrong with their tastebuds. People today stop their pangs of hunger by the quickest method they can find. Eating is now done, seemingly as a necessity and not as a pleasure. After bolting their food and sluicing it down with several cups of coffee, the diners lean back in their chairs with a faraway gaze in their eyes like a boa constrictor that has just swallowed a pig. They then reach for their cigarette pack, place one between their teeth, light it, and hope it will give them a lift. The chefs state that the average time used today in feeding the "inner man" is from 16 to 17 minutes per meal. Some people can get on the outside of their food in almost half this time. They can do this by using certain prepared concentrated canned foods that are now available.

The chefs of today are somewhat troubled by the turn of events. They wonder if there is any truth left in the Old Mother Goose rhyme, "that we can live without music, we can live without books, but civilized men can't live without cooks."

The chefs tell me that to satisfy the desires of the eating public today is a very hard task. Their wants change as rapidly as the weather. The chefs look with fear and consternation at the future aspect of their chosen profession. They are studying ways and means to slow down the tempo of the times, so that the population will take sufficient time to eat and enjoy it. They hope to concoct some new dishes that will tickle the palates of the eating public to such extent that the diners will flock to the eating emporiums and return dining to its former popularity and means of enjoyment

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