Two odd food questions: Heinz ketchup tomatoes and pasta vs noodles

Okay, so conversing with my mom, it becomes apparent that she prefers Heinz ketchup. Which is fine, I do myself. But her reason is, she believes that the tomatoes they use all come from the Michigan/Ohio area, because there’s a Heinz plant near where she grew up, and believes it tastes better because the tomatoes from that area are superior. Now, tomatoes there may be wonderful, I can’t possibly argue with a matter of taste like that. But it seems odd to me that Heinz would only use tomatoes from a particular area–wouldn’t they use whatever tomatoes they could get their hands on? I tried emailing Heinz, but shockingly they seem to have better things to do than answer this earth-shattering question–where do the tomatoes come from that Heinz uses for their ketchup? Are they all from one particular area?

The second question is another of my mother’s food beliefs. She won’t buy soup with “pasta” in it because she believes pasta is less substantial than “noodles” because noodles have eggs and pasta doesn’t. Now, I’ve heard this before, but I’ve also seen recipes for both noodles and pasta that did and didn’t have eggs, and I know that some people call everything noodle-like “pasta” because they think it sounds nicer. So, my question is, is there in fact any difference at all between noodles and pasta, or are they in fact words for the same thing, which may or may not contain eggs?

Your mom is weird. Someone else will have to tackle the first question, but I doubt there is a true difference between noodles and pasta in your average canned soup. Unregulated nomenclature, in my opinion.

Noodles are a type of pasta. Either may or may not have eggs. EGG noodles definitely have eggs, which is why your mom is confused. Personally, I think the best pasta is made without eggs.

Heinz may very well have a plant in the midwest, but they also have one in California (near Tracy) and they truck in millions of tomatoes from the Central Valley. Where the hell does your mom think Hunt’s gets their tomatoes, Mars?

The reason your mom likes Heinz better is because she grew up with it, and associates that flavor with ketchup. All ketchup contains the same ingredients, and tomatoes are a commodity, so the only difference is a miniscule adjustment in spices and flavorings.

I’m personally convinced you’re right about the reason my mom prefers Heinz. I have been for some time. But whenever she pipes up with the Ohio tomatoes BS it just bugs me, and I’ve often wished I could prove to her conclusively that it is BS. My mom thinks Hunts (and other companies) get their tomatoes from other parts of the country where tomatoes are not as delicious as the ones that grow in Ohio, because there is something special about the soil there. I’m not kidding you. (And yes, chriszarate, my mom is indeed weird. I’ve known it for some time. She’s actually decently educated and pretty smart, which makes these sorts of things even more infuriating.)

Anyway, convincing her that the tomatoes taste the same anyway after the seasonings are added will not convince her, because she’ll still insist the tomatoes make the difference. On the other hand, proving to her that she actually hasn’t been eating the tomatoes she thinks she has might do the trick. If I could prove to her that our ketchup (in MO) is from the plant in CA, or that the OH plant buys tomatoes from South America during the winter…anything like that would help, it seems to me.

I just read an article on this in the Chicago Tribune. Yes, there is a big processing-tomato-growing center in the Toledo area,

The World’s Largest Ketchup Plant, Heinz USA, is in Sandusky, Ohio.

And yes, the soil is special.

However, the tomato growers of Ohio can’t possibly be supplying Heinz with all the tomatoes they need. The statistics are just against it. Ohio is only the fourth largest tomato grower–what are California, Florida, and Indiana doing with all those tomatoes, then? And according to the USDA, California alone accounts for 94% of all processing tomatoes grown in the U.S.

I don’t see any way of proving where the tomatoes in a particular batch of ketchup came from, other than to say that two basic principles apply:

  1. Heinz will get tomatoes from wherever it’s cheapest.
  2. See Principle #1.

This means that it’s very unlikely that they order tomatoes from South America, as the transportation costs alone would be too high. People grow tomatoes for processing all over the U.S., and if Heinz can’t get Ohio tomatoes at the right price, then they’ll get them from Indiana or California or Florida. Or North Carolina, or New Jersey, which also have processing tomato industries (sort of).

Your mom needs to understand a concept called “quality control”. This means that Heinz has samples of their “official” ketchup frozen in the main food laboratory and in the factories, and they use it to make sure that all batches of Heinz ketchup come out tasting exactly the same as all other batches of Heinz ketchup, forever and ever, amen. They test it, periodically, at the factory, to make sure it’s the same. That’s the idea behind “factory production” and “mass marketing”.

So ultimately it doesn’t matter where the tomatoes come from. The ketchup will still always taste the same. The bottle of Heinz ketchup you buy in California has to taste the same as the bottle of Heinz ketchup you buy in Maine. That’s the way it works. And the day that batches of Heinz ketchup start coming out tasting different because of a difference in tomatoes–the day that a bottle of Heinz ketchup bought in Toledo, Oho tastes different from a bottle of Heinz ketchup bought in San Diego–that’s the day heads will start to roll, beginning with the factory manager whose ketchup is coming out tasting different.

Conformity means survival, if you’re running a ketchup factory. :smiley:

This is from the website of a software company that made Heinz’s tracking software:

Now, Heinz’s website says that 75% of their ketchup is made at their new plant in Ohio; if that’s so, they’re making it from tomato concentrate (look at the Heinz label!) from California. Also note that California sends 8 million tons of tomatoes to Heinz; Ohio’s entire production is 2% of that.

It should come as no surprise that Heinz also breeds tomatoes. You, too, can buy seed for the very same tomatoes that Heinz uses for their ketchup. Just go to the Heinzseed website (57 Varieties of Tomato Seed), click on “Heinz Processor” and click on H8892, right next to the ketchup bottle. You’ll find that this variety is adapted for California.

My father is a horticulturist who breeds tomatoes. When I used to travel with him, I met other scientists and breeders who worked for Heinz from Florida.

I think we are all missing the point here. bren, if your mother perceives that the catsup tastes better made with tomatoes from where ever you care for, that is going to be the place you will probably purchase from.

She thinks the tomatoes taste better and so does the catsup from that processor. Why would you want to burst her bubble?

Instead of putting all this effort into proving her wrong, why not make her day and agree?

::you whippersnappers, think you’re so smart and have so much yet to learn::