Heinz wins again. Sir Kensington’s, the upstart condiment purveyor beloved by shoppy shops and bodegas alike, has announced that it will cease production of its flagship product: ketchup. Scott Norton and Mark Ramadan launched Sir Kensington’s 13 years ago, billing it as an artisanal product free of high-fructose corn syrup. From the jump, it was a bet that consumers wanted something other than Heinz, a food that Malcolm Gladwell famously reported activated all of the major taste receptors in the human mouth: “The taste of Heinz’s ketchup began at the tip of the tongue, where our receptors for sweet and salty first appear, moved along the sides, where sour notes seem the strongest, then hit the back of the tongue, for umami and bitter, in one long crescendo.” Gladwell, relaying this information for The New Yorker in 2004, added, “How many things in the supermarket run the sensory spectrum like this?”
In a lengthy note posted to both Medium and LinkedIn, Norton takes a grave tone to announce the news: “There’s no easy way to say this,” the missive begins. “We’re saddened to think about how the ketchup will not endure.” He goes on to thank all of the customers who took part in the Ketchup Wars, people “who embraced this crazy idea for choice in condiments from day one.”
Sir Kensington himself, however — a mascot that somehow adopts the most ostentatious attributes of both Mr. Peanut and the Monopoly Man, while also adding an apparent knighthood into the mix — will live on in the form of the company’s other sauce and mayonnaise products. Kensington may be an honorary MBE, or possibly even an OBE, but when it comes to ketchup, Heinz remains the king.