Did You Know That Tomato Ketchup Was Once Used As Medicine?

In the past, tomato pills were said to have the ability to cure ailments like diarrhea, indigestion, and jaundice. Was there any truth to it? This remains a bone of contention among historians. Keep reading to find out how this began and how it led to the creation of the modern tomato ketchup.

By Cookist

The tomato ketchup is one of the most used ingredients in the world. It has a well known versatility however little else is known about this condiment. In fact, only a few people know that in the beginning it was actually invented as medication and not a condiment.

The Evolution of Ketchup 


It is a little difficult to trace the origin and history of ketchup. However, food experts and scholars think that it came from China where it was known as Ge-thcup or Koe-cheup i.e fish sauce.

It was made from fish innards and soybeans and was salty with a pungent smell. As years passed, people added more twists in the recipe with some making it by boiling stale beer and some anchovies, then fermenting them.

Later on, that recipe underwent more changes after sailors took it to England where it went through several other experiments.

By 1812, the first known published tomato ketchup recipe appeared, written by scientist and horticulturist, James Mease. He is also known to have invented tomato-based ketchup.

Ketchup Was Medicine At Some Point


In the 1830s, tomato ketchup was sold as a medicine that could cure ailments like diarrhea, indigestion, and jaundice.

The idea was initially proposed by Dr. John Cook Bennett, an American physician, in 1834, who later decided to sell the recipe in the form of ‘tomato pills'.

After sales began, copycats flooded the market with their own pills, leading to a war of tomato pills. These copy cats claimed their pills could solve all types of ailments but in truth most just sold laxatives.

In the end, it all led to the fall of the tomato ketchup empire in 1850.

Then Heinz Came Along 


Decades later, in 1876, Henry Heinz, an American entrepreneur created today’s version of tomato ketchup. He used ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and a variety of spices.

This recipe later gained popularity as a non-medicinal condiment and remains well known even today.

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