Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Today in Food: Ketchup as a Vegetable; Blue M&Ms

September 15th, 2008 · 2 Comments

(Click here for a soundtrack to today’s Today in Food. . . .
It’s Bob Dylan and my favorite recent song of his…
Things Have Changed.)

In 1981 The USDA announced that ketchup could be counted as a vegetable in the school lunch program.

Boy, howdy. Those folks in Pittsburgh were sure excited. Heinz is their native son. Maybe all the steel workers who were out of work at the time got jobs making ketchup bottle caps (rewind button: back in the day when glass bottles ruled). This was under President Reagan’s USDA appointee.  Today, schools are throwing out their fryers, so no French fries and that particular “vegetable” has fallen on harder times — at least in the school lunch program.

1995 Tan M&Ms are replaced by the new blue M&Ms. The tan ones originally replaced violet M&Ms in 1949.

I don’t like blue as an M&M color. Bring back tan! If you type M&Ms into Wikipedia, you’ll learn that the candies actually are linked to the Spanish Civil War; that the Mars company started making them in 1941; that they were made only for our soldiers in WWII, because the hard shell kept the chocolate from melting in their kit bags. Red M&Ms were killed out in 1976 due to the Red Dye No. 2-cancer link — though M&Ms weren’t made with it. The public doesn’t remember this stuff for long, and red came back to the pack in 1987.  You can order them online now in 17 colors and get custom messages printed on them. And Mars continues to deny the urban legend that green M&Ms have aphrodesiac properties — but they play along. Bags of green-only M&Ms were released in 2008 for Valentine’s Day sales.



Tags: Today in the World of Food

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ben // Sep 15, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Oh my gosh, I had completely forgotten about President Reagan’s declaration of ketchup being a veggie.

    My high school drama teacher laughed about this for weeks. It actually became the subject for debate in our American Government class in about 10th grade.

  • 2 bevsnow // Sep 17, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    …a comment on the white ketchup bottle caps. Years ago I worked for a large conglomerate, and one of our packaging companies was called WhiteCap. Yep, they made all the bottle caps for Heinz, and other companies too. Talk about a niche industry. They were in a surburb of Chicago. See, the things you never thought you didn’t know. They’re still around, owned by someone else.

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