How did ketchup get its name?

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Ketchup, catsup, catsiup, catchup… no matter what you call it or how you spell it, the name sounds pretty silly! 

The origin of the name “ketchup” is usually traced to Malaysia and, before that, to China, where people used a sauce known as “kichap” or “ke-tsiap” or “ketjap.” This sauce was actually not very much like the tomato-y ketchup we eat today. – Its main ingredient was fish brine! 
As the popularity of the fish brine sauce traveled around the world, different ingredients were used according to the availability of certain regions. Ingredients in some of these variations included mushrooms, walnuts, oysters, and cucumbers.    

At some point, tomatoes were added to the recipes and eventually, they stuck! (Particularly for those making or eating this sauce in the United States.) Unlike the ingredients, the name stayed pretty close to its original, and so today we eat “ketchup”!

by   (whyzz writer)
  • Further information

    For a period of time in the 1700s and 1800s, the name “ketchup” referred broadly to any sauce containing vinegar. 
  • Exploration

    Catch up with your ketchup!

    Do you have a favorite brand or recipe for ketchup? Some people prefer thicker ketchup consistency while others like it thinner. Some recipes are sweeter while others are more tangy. 

    Try holding a taste-test with your friends! Prepare small samples of ketchup and have everyone taste them without knowing which is which. Can you guess the names of each brand? Which one is your favorite, and why?? 

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