If tomato is a fruit, is ketchup a smoothie?
This question has popped up across the internet as a bit of a meme. But in all seriousness, let’s consider this question.
A tomato is a fruit, a smoothie is a blend of mostly fruits, and ketchup is a blend of mostly tomatoes. Hence, can we come to the logical conclusion that ketchup is technically a smoothie?
Let’s dive into it…
Is Ketchup a Smoothie?
Ketchup should not necessarily be considered a smoothie, for a few reasons.
First, let’s define what ketchup is and what a smoothie is.
Ketchup = a blend of mostly tomatoes, along with other ingredients, used as a condiment to add flavour to foods like fries.
Smoothie = a blend of mostly raw fruits, along with other ingredients, consumed as a thick beverage. (a blended drink)
For the most part, ketchup seems to fall under the definition of smoothie.
However, there are a few things that set ketchup apart from your typical smoothie. Let’s consider each of them:
5 Key Differences Between Ketchup and Smoothies
1. Preparation method: Ketchup is made by cooking tomatoes, not just blending raw tomatoes.
Smoothies are typically made using raw fruits and vegetables that are blended into a drinkable beverage.
Ketchup, on the other hand, is made from cooked and processed tomatoes, meaning additional steps are involved in its creation. Ketchup is not simply blended tomatoes; it is made from tomato paste, which is manufactured by concentrating and thickening tomatoes though heating and cooking.
But does this means ketchup is not a smoothie?
After all, a smoothie can include frozen foods, dried foods, ground foods, processed foods, etc. A smoothie can most certainly include cooked foods as well. Heck, a smoothie could even potentially include tomato paste as an ingredient (I’m not sure why you would want to do that, but you could).
There still stands a difference here though: A smoothie is a fresh blended drink. Ketchup is a preservable condiment.
They are prepared in different ways because the end result is different in both its appearance and properties.
While we’re here, let’s quickly define what a condiment is.
Condiment = something that is used to add flavour to food.
Now that we have our definitions out of the way, let’s move onto the next difference…
2. Flavour: Ketchup includes different ingredients than smoothies.
Are perhaps the ingredients are what set ketchup apart from smoothies?
Ketchup includes not only tomato paste, but it is blended with vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices. This results in a unique savory blend with an umami flavour, which is then used to complement other flavours in foods.
Smoothies can definitely include similar ingredients such as spices and concentrated foods like protein powders. And smoothies can certainly have all sorts of savory and unconventional flavours.
But here’s the difference:
Smoothies are (usually) made to taste good, meaning they focus on including fruits and other tasty ingredients, and err on the sweet side. If not added for the taste, smoothie ingredients will be added for the nutritional benefits. Specifically, smoothies are meant to taste good on their own.
In ketchup, this simply does not occur.
Ketchup is made to have one specific desirable flavour, but it is a complementary flavour that is generally not enjoyed on its own. Hence, why ketchup is a classic example of a condiment.
Other than its few uniquely flavoured ingredients, ketchup does not include any other blended fruits or vegetables or anything sweet or mild to balance out its flavours into a more palatable drink.
It also does not contain a liquid base which is a key component of smoothies.
And, unless made at home, ketchup also contains a ton of preservatives; I can’t think of a single reason a smoothie would be made with preservatives.
3. Nutrition: Smoothies are nutritious, ketchup is not.
Smoothies are typically meant to be nutritious, and can even be used as meal replacements.
Ketchup certainly cannot.
While some smoothies can tend to resemble more of a milkshake, most smoothies are made with fresh, wholesome, nutrient-dense ingredients like fruits, vegetables, milk, etc.
As mentioned before, if an ingredient is not added for flavour, it is added for nutrition, and vice versa.
With ketchup, yes, it is made with tomatoes and vinegar, but that is about as far as the health benefits go. Especially when store-bought, ketchup offers more sugar and sodium than anything else. Not the most nutrient-dense blend out there! Drinking a glass full of ketchup would be quite unhealthy actually.
4. Consistency: Ketchup is a thick sauce, a smoothie is a drinkable beverage.
Another key difference that distinguishes ketchup from smoothies, is the consistency of the mixture.
Like most condiments, ketchup is more of a dip or spread, with a thicker-than-drinkable (or at least not comfortably drinkable) consistency.
A smoothie, on the other hand, is a thick, creamy beverage with a liquid base, that can usually be drank through a straw. You may be able to drink ketchup through a straw, but I guarantee it will be a difficult and unpleasant experience.
But wait a minute…what about smoothie bowls?!
Smoothie bowls are smoothies that are made to be so thick that they can be eaten in a bowl with a spoon.
The biggest difference here would be that a smoothie bowl is a nutritious blend of whole foods that is meant to be nourishing and tasty, and consumed on its own (in quantities large enough to fill a bowl, I might add!).
Ketchup is, well…not.
Which brings us to our final point…
5. Use: Ketchup is not consumed like a smoothie.
Finally, ketchup is just not made to be a smoothie!
I’d say of the main things that makes a smoothie a smoothie is the reason one decides to make it. You make/buy a smoothie when you want to drink one or more of the following: a fresh beverage, a delicious beverage, a sweet beverage, a fruity beverage, a healthy beverage, a nutritious beverage, a thick beverage, a cold beverage, a meal-replacement, an energy boost, a protein boost, etc.
You certainly do not make/buy ketchup because you want any sort of beverage. (…well, I don’t know, there are all kinds of people out there…but we’re talking in general here!)
While all the previously mentioned factors such as flavour and consistency are variable and somewhat subjective (who knows, some people may genuinely want to drink ketchup), there is a reason condiments and smoothies are entirely different categories.
Smoothies have an entirely different purpose than condiments like ketchup. This is why smoothies are more nutritious, do not contain preservatives, taste good, have the consistency they do, etc.
To wrap this up, my final sophisticated statement is this: a smoothie is a smoothie; a condiment is a condiment.
So what do you think? Is ketchup a smoothie? Not a smoothie? Could it be a smoothie bowl? Or none of the above?
Let me know in the comments below, what your take on this contentious issue is!