Don’t Get Rid Of That Tiny Ketchup Packet
Updated: May 19
The other night at supper, we ran out of hot sauce.
My husband said, “That’s okay. We have the leftover packets from Taco Bell.”
After supper, I raced to the drawer to see if I had discarded the tiny hot sauce packets from earlier in the week. I wouldn’t want to be accused of throwing out something valuable.
For years, we saved all the leftover condiments. They filled an entire kitchen drawer. A few were at least ten-years-old. Something had leaked and dried up in the middle of the collection. No telling which one.
When I Googled condiment packets for this blog, the autofill gave me,
Do Fast Food Sauce Packets Expire?
Apparently, they are only good for several months. But who knows when the clock started on the expiration? It isn’t printed on each individual packet. They could be expired before I even get them. Eeeew.
In college, I knew someone who didn’t even bother with regular size ketchup and mustard. At meals, she pulled out a gallon sized condiment bag stuffed with tiny packets. Why buy big ketchup when restaurants gave it out for free? College student logic.
And, by the way, is it Catsup or Ketchup?
As a child, I learned to spell it Catsup. What a cool word. Not at all like it sounded. A cool version of “Cat what’s up?”
Turns out both words have a long history, dating into the 1700s, although tomato ketchup didn’t come around until the 1800s. “Catsup” was popular in North America for a time—the time when I learned to spell. Then, the big manufacturers changed it to Ketchup, leaving my kids wondering why I don’t know how to spell such a common word.
Interestingly, the standard package design for tiny condiments is older than me! An antique, patented in 1955. Every time you squeeze out the trickle of catsup, you are living history.
You can actually buy these packets online (Amazon has everything). For a time, I purchased small salad dressing packets to put in my lunch. I thought I was fancy. Alas, even those grew old after a while, and when one leaked, I couldn’t find the culprit. So they all had to go.
You can even make your own little condiments. There is a YouTube video describing how to make them with freezer pop packets. Click on the picture to see the video.
This guy lets the kids eat the freezer pops and then uses the plastic. He refers to it as “food grade.” Once they’re full, he uses his wife’s hair straightener to seal the end (when she isn’t looking). Hilarious . . . And ingenious. I would totally do this.
I’m not sure what I’ll do about my husband’s expectation that I keep these in case we run out of something. Maybe write dates on them with a Sharpie?
Nah. I’ll just toss them and make sure the big bottle in the fridge never runs out.