On Facebook this morning I was invited by my friend Brad to join the "Save the Heinz Pickle" group. So I did. I'd read the story about Heinz' reasoning for dropping the pickle and adding a tomato to the bottles, but fail to see why both couldn't coexist on the label in some fashion.
The image of a single, large, vine-ripened tomato is much larger than the pickle it's replacing and better reflects what's inside the bottle, said Noel Geoffrey, director of ketchup for Pittsburgh-based Heinz.
Playing up ketchup's natural roots also feeds into consumers' growing desire for more wholesome, natural foods, analysts and the company said. The new label includes the tagline "Grown not made.""We really felt that the tomato is the hero of ketchup, and it was the right time to make the switch on our label," Geoffrey said.
Clearly the story was largely based upon spoon-fed consumer research and a press release that Heinz crafted to put a positive spin on a ill-conceived notion. I mean, for God's sake, we know that tomatoes make ketchup and that there are no pickles in the bottle. And, yes, we consumers want more wholesome, natural foods. So, how about you drop the high-fructose corn syrup and really give us the foods we seek?
Do they think we're ignorant?
The pickle has been part of Heinz' brand for decades and the logic for dropping it from their most prolific product is asinine. A USA Today article states "Heinz ketchup director Noel Geoffroy says the company is 'flattered that some people feel a sense of nostalgia about the pickle' — but the tomato stays. But take heart, pickle fans. Geoffroy says the pickle will stay in the Heinz logo on its vinegar, chili sauce and mustard."
Ketchup is made with tomatoes. Duh.
I sent an e-mail from a link to Heinz Investor Relations that I followed from the Facebook page. Here is the dismissive, patronizing response I received:
January 26, 2009
Thank you for taking the time to share with us your comments on Heinz Ketchup 'Grown Not Made' label change.
While this is the first new Heinz Ketchup label in nearly 65 years, Heinz's commitment to high-quality tomatoes and superior ingredients is not new. Since the 1930s, Heinz researchers have been developing proprietary tomato seeds through the HeinzSeed program, from which only the firmest, juiciest, freshest tomatoes are grown for America's Favorite Ketchup.
Heinz tomatoes, which we carefully nurture from seed to vine to bottle, make the perfect ketchup. The addition of the tomato to our labeling is to show Heinz's continuing commitment to quality, and superior ingredients with our iconic ketchup.
The bottles featuring the new labels will begin arriving in stores throughout the first part of 2009. While Heinz is making these changes to the label, you can be sure the product inside is still the same great Heinz Ketchup with the same great taste you've come to know and love!
We truly appreciate and value all consumer opinions and we'd like to thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. Consumer input like yours helps us to continue to make Heinz products leaders in value and quality.
Heinz Consumer Resource Center
When contacting us, please refer to the following reference number: 002959326A
Save it, Heinz. I'm not buying it. I'll buy this instead: