Monday, February 16, 2009

Heinz sours on famous pickle logo

Pickle news!

The H.J. Heinz Co., famous for its 57 varieties and various picnic condiments, decided last month to yank the famous gherkin logo from its bottles of ketchup.

What do you mean, "What famous gherkin logo?"

For the last 110 years, Heinz products have featured a tiny image of a pickle on its labels, hearkening back to the second — and arguably, most famous — condiment the company made (horseradish was the first, but who wants to look at a bowl of horseradish?). But now, Heinz is replacing the gherkin on its ketchup bottles with a tomato and the phrase, "Grown, not made."

I have no problems with tomatoes in general, but there's something to be said for tradition. And what bugs me most is the idea that a tomato is supposed to somehow translate to "organic" AND that marketers think we need a picture to remind us of what's actually in a bottle of ketchup.


I'm not going to become suddenly confused when, while squirting the red stuff on my hot dog (not a euphemism), I see a pickle on the bottle. "Oh, no!" I'll cry, "Somehow this condiment that even two year old children recognize has transformed into a bottle of pickle sauce. How could this be? Oh, why didn't I see that pickle warning label sooner?!"

Bah. Do you realize the gherkin was synonymous with Heinz at one time? Some folks know this and have launched a no doubt doomed-to-failure Facebook push to save the pickle. It's a nice thought (and at least they're doing something about it), but I doubt Heinz will backtrack. Pickle-haters.

I'm not really upset that the logo is changing — it'll still be on other products — but what bothers me is just the dumbness behind it. Once upon a time, the company used to hand out little "pickle pins" to people so that when they saw a pickle, they'd think of Heinz. Now when I see a tomato on their ketchup labels, I'll be thinking of who to throw one at.

(And yes, I also wanted to use the phrase, "yank the famous gherkin.")

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