How ketchup is ‘cutting the mustard’ in Canada


Ketchup’s history is a bit of a mystery

We don’t know precisely when and how ketchup came to be, but scholars and historians agree that the likeliest origin happened during the 1600s. The Chinese created a mélange of pickled fish and spices and called it Ke-tsiap — from the Amoy dialect “koe-chiap” or “ke-chiap,” meaning the brine of pickled fish or shellfish. Then, during the 1700s, the table sauce had arrived in what is present-day Malaysia and Singapore, where English colonists first tasted it. The Malaysian-Malay word for the sauce was “kicap” or “kecap” (pronounced “kay-chap”). That word evolved into the English word “ketchup.” English settlers took ketchup with them to the American colonies.

And then, there were tomatoes…

The tomato-based version of ketchup didn’t come about until into the 1800s. An early recipe for “Tomata Catsup” from 1817 still had the anchovies — a remnant of its fish-sauce origins.

“Gather a gallon of fine, red, and full ripe tomatas; mash them with one pound of salt. Let them rest for three days, press off the juice, and to each quart add a quarter of a pound of anchovies, two ounces of shallots, and an ounce of ground black pepper.

“Boil up together for half an hour, strain through a sieve, and put to it the following spices; a quarter of an ounce of mace, the same of allspice and ginger, half an ounce of nutmeg, a drachm of coriander seed, and half a drachm of cochineal.

“Pound all together; let them simmer gently for twenty minutes, and strain through a bag: when cold, bottle it, adding to each bottle a wineglass of brandy. It will keep for seven years.”

By the mid-1850s, the anchovies had been dropped.” (‘The Cosmopolitan Condiment,’

In the early 1800s, a recipe for tomato ketchup appeared in an influential American cookbook. Cooks also began to sweeten ketchup at this time.

A condiment by any other name…

  • Ketchup is the dominant term in American English and Canadian English.
  • Catsup is commonly used in some southern U.S. states and Mexico.
  • Tomato sauce is more common in English-speaking countries outside North America, including Australia and New Zealand.
  • Red sauce is the term used in Welsh English, Scottish English and some parts of England.

Mais oui! Canadian ketchup is eh! Okay.

French’s — the brand — was created by Robert Timothy French. French’s mustard made its debut at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. By 1921, French’s Mustard had adopted its trademark pennant and began advertising to the general public.

While its sister condiment, French’s Mustard, may have been first squeezed onto a delicious hot dog in 1904, French’s Ketchup didn’t make its Canadian debut until 2015. In 2017, the company took its national pride one step further, announcing that all bottling duties would be moved to North York, Ont., making production of the ketchup 100-per-cent Canadian.

Clean Ingredients, Locally Sourced

If your meats are Canadian, your fruit and veggies are Canadian, why not keep the condiments Canadian, too? Whether it’s a must-have ingredient in your feature dishes, or the perfect addition to your tabletop caddies, your customers are asking about and looking for local stories.

Local sourcing has also been a part of the French’s philosophy. In Canada, French’s works with local farmers to source the best quality ingredients for use in all its products. This has been evident for years in French’s Mustard, where 100 per cent of the mustard seeds are grown by Canadian farmers. This philosophy now extends to French’s Ketchup. Working with local farmers in Ontario, French’s Ketchup is now made with 100-per-cent Canadian tomatoes. It’s these Canadian-grown tomatoes that give French’s Ketchup its fresh, delicious taste.

The French’s Promise is evident in its brands’ ingredients, recipes and the community causes French’s supports. While many companies may take years to reach this achievement, French’s is proud to confirm that its ingredient changes are nearly complete. The company spent 2015 refining its product recipes and, today, more than 90 per cent of the company’s products now include only real ingredients, without artificial flavours, colourants, dyes or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Look for the Promise Seal

Signaling this commitment, a Promise Seal appears on French’s products and across all of its communications, promising great taste, real, local ingredients, and true commitment to our communities. Only products living up to the promise bear the seal.

For more information on French’s Ketchup options, contact your foodservice sales representative or visit

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