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For decades, Heinz Ketchup has proven to be a condiment that knows no rival. But damned if others aren’t going to try to compete—including locals Kori Hill Wallace and Matt Wallace. The married couple—he’s an analyst in the energy industry, she works in tech and studies graphic design—has spent the past year developing a line of fruit ketchups called ‘Chups.
The Wallaces recently launched a Kickstarter campaign and exceeded their $12,000 goal within 10 days. (There are still 29 days to go.) The funds will allow them to start producing their sauce at food incubator Union Kitchen, ideally by the end of this month or early March. Their signature flavors include cherry, blueberry, peach, mango, and plum. The sauces don’t have tomatoes and are made with a blend of vinegar, spices, and other natural ingredients (no high-fructose corn syrup).
The whole idea started a year and a half ago when Matt, an avid home cook, was preparing turkey burgers. He has some leftover cherries and decided to make cherry ketchup. Pleased with the result, Matt started doing some research into fruit ketchups and felt like there was a place in the condiments market for them. He and Kori began giving their ketchups out to friends and taking them to tailgate parties. They eventually started an online store as a way for friends and family who were far away to try it. The online store is currently down but will ramp up after they begin production at Union Kitchen. Kori says they also hope to also sell to local restaurants, caterers, and markets.
Despite what most people think of as ketchup, the sauce wasn’t always tomato-based. It’s evolved over the centuries from a fermented fish sauce originating in Asia to a condiment written up in 19th century American cookbooks with flavors like mushroom and walnut.
In an homage to those early American recipes, José Andrés experimented with flavors like gooseberry, grape, and blueberry in his year-long pop-up restaurant America Eats Tavern(which will be revived in Tysons Corner this year). But the $3 servings of ketchups—ahem, catsups—didn’t go down so well with former Y&H columnist Chris Shott: “Lined up in a row, the thin syrups look like watercolor paints, and don’t taste much better.”
Nonetheless, Kori says she and Matt met with Andrés, who’s given their venture the thumbs-up. They’re hoping to expand people’s mental image of ketchup beyond tomatoes.
“We recognize that’s going to be our biggest challenge. Because the mindset of the public is that ketchup is tomato and ketchup is Heinz,” Kori says. “But the market has changed so drastically… We really do believe this ketchup revolution is just waiting to happen.”
Photo by Pepper Watkins courtesy ‘Chups