Opinion Brief

Heinz's new 'high-tech' ketchup packet

A new condiment container debuts at fast food restaurants across the country. But do we really need to make it easier to dunk French fries?

After years of customer dissatisfaction over tiny, tough-to-tear ketchup packets — and a decline in sales of French fries at fast food drive-throughs — H. J. Heinz Co. has finally developed an alternative. New "Dip and Squeeze" packets are shaped like miniature ketchup bottles and, as the name suggests, allow eaters to more easily adorn their French fries by either dipping or squeezing. Are these "high-tech" ketchup containers a welcome change?

This is a big improvement: The new packaging is much easier to open, says Ben Popken at Consumerist. "I could squeeze and dip with adroitness." The new package also holds a lot more ketchup, so I didn't need to grab a whole handful of those annoying little packets. With just one of the new packets, "my ketchup needs were taken care of."
"Heinz rolling out 'Dip And Squeeze' ketchup packets"

But this is just going to make us fatter: With the new design, "will you grab fewer packets than you would have before, or will you just end up consuming more ketchup than you probably should?" asks Emily Leaman at Philadelphia Magazine. I fear it will be the latter, and with the extra ketchup, customers will also wolf down more fries, calories, and sodium than they should. It's also troubling that these packets are designed for use in the car: That doesn't encourage healthy, mindful eating — or safe driving, for that matter. 
"Heinz makes it easier to eat fast food"

Don't forget — cost is an issue for restaurants: "Cost is king," and these new packets could get pricey for fast food restaurants, says Amy Coltrin with Golden State Foods Corp, a rival ketchup company that supplies the red stuff to most McDonald's in the U.S., as quoted inThe Wall Street Journal. The new packets contain more ketchup, but they also cost three times as much. If every customer grabs a handful, that's going to get very expensive, very quickly.
"Old ketchup packet heads for trash" 

But customers will only grab one: The design of the new packets clearly signals to customers that they just need one, says Stuart Leslie, president of the design firm, 4sight Inc., that worked on the new packaging, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal. It's shaped like a ketchup bottle, telling customers that "this is a serving, this is a bottle of ketchup." With this innovation, "you actually don't need 16 bags of ketchup."
"Old ketchup packet heads for trash"

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