Almost everyone loves ketchup. It goes with lots of things really well, like fries, burgers, and sandwiches. Everyone imagines a red, tomatoey sauce when they think of Heinz ketchup products. However, there was a time when Heinz decided that ketchup that was not red was the way to go. The early 2000s were a strange time for snacking, and Heinz EZ Squirt landed right smack in the middle of the very odd 2000s food categories.
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It’s hard to imagine wanting to slather your fries in purple ketchup or blue or green either. Yet, this was the idea that Heinz decided to try out in the early 2000s. The product was advertised as the colorful ketchup everyone loved, but after six years, Heinz pulled the product from shelves. And really, is it hard to imagine why?
Heinz EZ Squirt History
Heinz got their start in Pittsburgh, beginning its rise to fame with sweet pickles, baked beans, and other sauces alongside their now-famous ketchup product. Many people only think of Heinz Ketchup when the company name comes up, but there were actually 60 products that the company made early in its life. The company stated that they made 57 pure food items because Heinz liked the number seven.
The Heinz company then pioneered a lot of safe processing advances that made the quality of the food they were making better and improved working conditions in their factories. This was actually one of the main focuses of the business for years, and perhaps this also led to a certain added freshness that made their products popular.
The Heinz company was a leader in a variety of different condiment and savory food categories and remained in this enviable position for generations. They still are one of the leading brands for condiments and things that you would like to have at your picnic. That being said, not much has changed about the Heinz product lineup in generations.
Over the years, baked beans and some of the other stable of products that had been part of the 57 original food products lost popularity. Food tastes were changing, and by the 70s, gimmicky and unique products were the rage. The Space Race made for lots of really zany and colorful products gracing the shelves of supermarkets. The 80s and 90s each had their own colorful and strange snack products that were offered to kids and adults alike.
Heinz stood their ground through all of these trends and fads, but in 2000, they decided to join the fray. They decided to do this with a line of weirdly-colored ketchup products. In reality, the taste of the ketchup was the same despite the unicorn-like colors of the products in the bottles. The colors were achieved with food coloring that did not impact the taste of the ketchup itself, or so the company claimed. Many adults felt otherwise, a factor which would hamstring the Heinz EZ Squirt product’s overall popularity.
There is a certain mental bond that some products have with the minds of consumers. Ketchup appears to be one of those products that is strongly associated with being red. There is just something wrong about looking at a plate of fires with purple or bright blue goo all over them. And this seems to have been the way that many consumers felt about this odd product choice.
It is certainly true that many kids across the US begged for the strangely-colored EZ Squirt ketchup, and most young people remember this product being in at least one friend’s house, if not their own. The very first bottles were green and were released as a partnership to help promote the first Shrek movie. This was still the day of product placement in association with movies which predates the era of streaming services. Movie theaters, grocery stores, and even TV ads told you that this green bottle of ketchup had something to do with Shrek, and you probably believed it back then.
The tie-in with Shrek made sure that Heinz sold heaps of the original product, and there was a high point where Heinz captured an all-time high for their ketchup sales. For a brief moment, they captured 60% of the ketchup market. That was before the novelty wore off, of course.
Kids might have loved the idea of green ketchup, but convincing adults that purple, blue and green were good colors for ketchup was not realistic. The Heinz company did seem to be aware that they were advertising to kids alone, but there were apparently not enough small children who cared about the color of their ketchup enough to keep this product alive.
For everyone who was a kid or young adult in the 2000s, the EZ Squirt version of Heinz occupies a strange but fond space in memory. Nearly everyone who heard about these products or saw ads for them thought they were a bit odd. Most of them thought the product was just as strange as they expected if they were asked to try and eat it. Perhaps the only cool part of this product was the really useful squeeze bottle that was much more user-friendly than the traditional ketchup bottle.
If Heinz wants to take anything away from the Heinz EZ Squirt product experiment, it is that the bottle shape was great, even if the product was not. Perhaps instead of petitioning for the return of EZ Squirt itself, everyone who loved the bottles that this product came in should ask for regular ketchup in the EZ Squirt bottle.
Heinz EZ Squirt Logo
Heinz EZ Squirt Varieties
Even the names of the product versions were zany. There is really no way to associate these variety names with a savory item for most people. The names of these ketchup varieties really seem more like candy names than ketchup product names.
- Blastin’ Green
- Funky Purple
- Stellar Blue
- Mystery Color: This might be Passion Pink, Awesome Orange, or Totally Teal
To change the color of the ketchup, the overall recipe had to be adjusted a bit. This meant that the bottles could not proclaim that this was “tomato ketchup”. This means that Heinz EZ Squirt claimed that the product was fortified with vitamin C. They also stated on each bottle that EZ Squirt had the “same great taste” as regular Heinz Ketchup.
Many adults claimed that the product did not taste the same at all, but then again, that might just have been the color. There are a lot of things that we associate with being green, purple, blue, and pink, and none of those things belong on a hamburger. There was also the play-with-your-food aspect of the colorful ketchup that does seem vaguely yucky somehow when you are older and just not that into food that is “fun” anymore.
Heinz EZ Squirt Livery
The bottles of this ketchup product were just as zany as the concept itself. The bottles were striped and were very bright and colorful to match the contents of each bottle. The lettering and the overall appearance of the fonts were changed to attract kids. The shape of the bottles was also favorable for squeezing, but it made the label have to be placed slightly askew to make sure that it fit properly and was legible.
The overall effect is very Dr. Suess and also delightfully early 2000s. Traditional ketchup might be more popular with kids if it was marketed with this much verve. This was certainly one of the only times that Heinz really stepped out of the box, and they did so with commitment.
It could be argued that Heinz knew that the product would be short-lived, which is why they went all in with the crazy styling and kid-friendly focus for this product. Certainly, the makers of Shrek miscalculated and thought that they were making a movie for kids when they really made a movie that was much more beloved by adults than kids. The late 90s and early 2000s were a really experimental time for snacking, and maybe Heinz just thought that they would jump on board this trend while the getting was good.
It could be supposed that Heinz would have been happy to keep making this crazy little product if it had continued to perform as well as it did the first year. However, there are real issues with trying to market novelty items for the long term, and it is likely that the Heinz company never did think that this product line would last for much more than a year or two.
Heinz EZ Squirt Ingredients
From the Purple version of the EZ Squirt product:
- Heinz Tomato Ketchup (tomato concentrate made from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sale, spice, onion powder, natural flavoring)
- Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
- FD&C Red No. 3
- FD&C Blue No.1
Heinz EZ Squirt Nutrition
|Serving Size:||1 tbsp||% Daily Value*|
|Amount Per Serving|
|Calories||20 Kcal (84 kJ)|
|Calories from fat||0 Kcal|
- Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Pictures of Heinz EZ Squirt
Heinz EZ Squirt Commercials:
An early ad for this zany product:
An ad that was tied to the Shrek release:
The story of Heinz EZ Squirt as told by Retail Hell:
My name is Brianna and I love writing on all topics. Candy history fascinates me and I am passionate about sharing my love of this topic with everyone else!
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