Why salt, and no ketchup.

I’ve lived in NY, NC, So CA, No CA, MA, NH and have traveled through most of the states in between. In my travels I’ve been to a lot of fast food restaurants.

Often french fries are part of my order, a side dish traditionally served with ketchup. So why when going through the many hundreds of drive throughs I’ve been through do they almost invariably never put ketchup packets in the bag unless you ask (and you never remember to ask until you’ve driven away.)

What makes it worse, is they seem to always put salt packets in the bag, so it’s obvious that some attention has gone towards my seasoning and condiment needs. It just doesn’t make sense, most places will salt the fries when they come out of the oil, so there’s no need to salt them with the packets in the bag. But fries don’t come pre-ketchuped so the lack of that addition to my sack-o-goodness really seems rather spiteful.

It’s as if they go out of their way to see that my enjoyment of those greasy crunchy sticks of gold are less than optimum.

To be fair, the primary offenders seem to be the largest of the fast food places. McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy’s. Smaller places seem to believe in proper condimentary White Castle never forgets.

So does anyone know why this is?

In a drive-through, it’s probably assumed that you will eat while driving. It seems to me that most drivers are not going to want to mess with catsup while driving because it’s messy; so the take-out can save money by not giving out catsup that will not be used. As for salt, I can’t remember the last time I received salt packets. The fries are invariably already salted. Note that salt isn’t as messy as catsup.

Salt & Vinegar, surely?

(Slight hijack…maybe it’s the ultimate fate of Pulp Fiction’s, but mayonaisse on chips/fries is increasing its popularity in Britain…Hellman’s is using it in their advertising)

Well, catsup is salt & vinegar… plus tomatoes. :wink:

I’ve been in the Pacific Northwest for almost two years, and I’ve only recently learned something: Around here, it’s normal to eat fries with tartar sauce as an alternative to catsup.

I have never once had salt put into a bag with french fries.

As for ketchup, believe it or not, there are even Americans who don’t like ketchup on french fries. And ketchup packages do cost money, so management insists on not handing them out to anyone who doesn’t ask.

There’s also “fry sauce”, which seems to be ketchup mixed with mayonnaise, and sometimes something else (maybe tartar). Zip’s and A&W are the only places that have it consistently. (Do you have Zip’s over by Bellingham?)

The only place I’ve seen that gives out salt with fries is Wendy’s, where it’s necessary because their fries aren’t salty at all. I used to always get ketchup packets at BK, but they stopped doing it on their own a few years ago, and now I usually forget to ask. I assume they stopped because management figured out that many people just throw them away, so they can save a few pennies by only giving them out to those who ask.

No Zips in B’ham, but pard Jerry lived in Spokane for a while and he said we should stop at Zips when we went out to do that FOX shoot. We were rushing to get there, so we didn’t stop on the way. We forgot on the way out.

Mayonaisse on fries? MMMMMMmmmmmmmm

Not enough Americans know of this.

I don’t like ketchup (catsup) on my fries. Hell, most of the time I would prefer a bigger drink instead of having fries at all.

Try Wendy’s Frosty with fries. The fries have to be fresh, mind you. Use them as tho the Frosty were a dip and the fries chips. Pure savory delight!

It’s an expense issue. The boxes of ketchup packets cost money and they don’t charge for them. The fewer they give away, the lower their costs. I used to work for a company that sold that kind of stuff. A box of 200 ketchup packets cost about $9. The smallest amount of salt packets we sold contained 1000 packets and cost about $3.

I don’t know what the profit margin is in a fast food place, but I would imagine it to be fairly low. You cut corners where you can.

Back in the early 90’s, the price of a single catsup packet a McD’s in West Germany was 15 pfennigs, the same as for packets of mayonaise. I’d paid for both, as mayo on fries (even pre-Pulp Fiction) is simply delicious.

Typically, I’m sick and tired of American fries anywhere in general. But man, those independant places in Germany that deep fried their fries in tallow – I could go for some of those right now! And instead of mayo or catsup, a little bit of the curry sauce that they used…

Yup. I have a mundane anecdote to share in line with this – not with the fast food industry, but with the mid-scale restaurant industry.

I was a waiter back in the day. One day, before the dinner shift, the manager did a little demonstration of just how much money was wasted by unused condiments and sweeteners. He was fishing unopened packets of artificial sweeteners, sugar, salad dressing, salt and pepper, etc. out of the side station garbage can. The manager went into a whole spiel into how much each item cost individually, and of how much “wasted money” he was able to fish out of the garbage just from that one smallish can.

Around this same time, many local fast food places quit giving away unrequested condiments – though they were still available on request. So the whole “save on condiments” thing just kind of struck me as something the food service industry woke up to 10-15 years ago. What were once throw-ins became areas in which losses could me minimized – in turn, padding the bottom line.

ABout thirty years ago, I was waiting for a train in Brussels and went to the French fry stand in the square outside for a quick lunch. They had over two dozen different flavours of mayonaisse (plus ketchup) to put on them.

I’ve only occassionally received salt with my order unless I go to In and Out Burger, which I think is a California only restaurant. (If you ever get one of their bumper stickers, cut off the B and the R in “burger” and… oh never mind)

I guess we should be grateful, as Balthisar mentioned, they charge for Ketchup in some countries.

But French fries exist solely as a vehicle for ketchup or other sauce! Your date will probably accept you eating ketchup with your fries but would walk out if you started sucking ketchup directly from the packet.

I thought French fries were nothing more than matrices for holding grease. :stuck_out_tongue:

And Nevada and Arizona.

Another wasted catsup scenario is where you take the food home and use catsup from a bottle.

When I was a kid, we would be throwing away at least half a dozen packets anytime we got fast food.

It really annoys me when I wanted catsup and forget to ask for it. They need to be better about asking whether you want it.

I hate it when they put salt packets in with the drive through fries. Reaching blindly in the bag, the salt packet always seem to land in the fry box. I seem to end up eating the packet much of the time.

I do not eat fried potatoes often. But true fry connossieurs know:

  1. Ketchup is an abomination.
  2. Vinegar is a good fry topping.
  3. Tartar sauce and light italian salad dressing are really good.
  4. Mayonnaise is okay, but better if flavoured with other things.
  5. The best fries ever (double fried in peanut oil, lots of tasty sauces) are sold in Montreal at Tintin-tableclothed “Frites Alors!”.
  6. The British also eat fries with curry sauce. This can be purchased as a just-add-water powder in England, but can be found in Canada if you look hard enough. This is probably the same sauce used in Germany. I find it okay – my Dad loves this stuff. He also mixes all the food on the plate together and adds HP sauce. True fry connossieurs understand this about my Dad.

But these catsups and salsas and so on then become great for brown-bagging your lunch!