Ketchup packets have been mysteriously replaced, at least as far as I can tell in England, by little paper cups that hold sauce. This is an alarming development that I hadn’t even seen coming. Although looking back, it has been in the pipe line for quite some time. I have always been a devout believer in ketchup packets in fast food restaurants and greasy spoon cafes. Perhaps in a greasy spoon an actual bottle of ketchup would also be ok. Luckily, of course, the rash of paper cups of sauce hasn’t found its way into the greasy spoon café, merely the fast food restaurant and many chain mid level restaurants. Having not been to many an upper tier restaurant I have no idea if they provide bottles of sauce, packets of sauce or indeed the dreaded paper cup or sauce. I would presume that they have a much classier way of giving you sauce. Perhaps they just don’t do sauce, maybe that’s the point of the jus, I digress.

Ketchup packets always make you feel like you have earned the right to the condiment. It doesn’t even have to be limited to ketchup, it could be brown sauce or any sauce of your imagining. That they have already had the foresight to put into packets, obviously. The most difficult packet to overcome, in my opinion, has always been vinegar. The consistency is all wrong to be trying to escape from a stubborn plastic packet. One wrongly timed rip, as will always happen, and you have vinegar everywhere. Except for on your plate, or anywhere even close to your food. For this reason it’s always best to hope that they have vinegar in a bottle and not in a little packet. This is a case of it being that little bit too much effort to season your food.

The easiest to open condiments that come in packets are salt and pepper. Much like vinegar, there isn’t any reason for them to be in anything other than a bottle. But I guess that people like to steal salt and pepper pots. So blame your fellow humans for making salt and pepper packets a necessity. Because of the ease of use of the salt and pepper packets, I feel that expanding on the topic is a bit dull. They do what they need to do and you get your food seasoned easily and nicely. Plus you don’t have to worry about the top suddenly falling off the top of the pot. So in many ways salt and pepper packets are actually a marked improvement on the floundering pots.

The problem that I have with the paper cups of sauce stems from the ease of use and the lack of trust. I don’t like to be double whammied when I’m eating out. The distrust that I’m going to steal the sauce, I can deal with in a fast food restaurant, I expect nothing less. I’m surprised they give me a cup for my drink in case I knock it over. But in anywhere above a fast food restaurant the hurt from not being trusted enough to even have a packet of sauce is distressing.

Also not being able to show my packet opening skills to anyone around me hurts. At least give me this one moment of the day to truly show my worth as a man. A man who has mastered the frankly awkward skill of ripping open a packet of sauce without spraying it all down his own shirt. Am I not owed this? My one small victory a day? This is the equivalent of the restaurant saying that I’m not mature enough to take my podium place that day. And I, for one, will not stand for this blatant mockery at the hands of a corporation that doesn’t know me but is more than happy to trample on my feelings.

If the current decline into little paper cups of ketchup continue I shall either have to take my custom elsewhere (unlikely) or start bulk buying ketchup packets and take them everywhere with me. I can see no other alternative to this travesty that is befalling modern civilisation. How can we call ourselves advanced when we can’t even trust each other not to steal bottles of sauce?

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