So Apparently, We’ve Been Using Ketchup Cups All Wrong

Apparently, we — a collective of food-eating-ketchup-using hooligans — have been consuming ketchup all wrong.

If you’ve ever poured ketchup into those tiny paper cup containers and brought them back to your table for fry dunking and burger smearing, you might be a victim of ketchup ignorance as well.

Did you know that these ketchup containers are built to fan out, and are made to allow for more dunk square-footage?

As it stands, your fries probably fit pretty snugly, but imagine wanting to dip your burger into that tiny cup — not happening.

The conversation came up after a long day at the beach. I was weathered, the sun had beat down on my face, I was nothing more than a walking zombie and my barbaric eating habits must have shown. There we were, a group of my friends sitting on a picnic table outside of a local burger shack in Laguna Beach, and I was trying to dunk my burger into a cup of ketchup that looked like this:

My friend Matt, noticing my struggle of trying to fit a humongous peg into a seemingly unwilling pinhole of ketchup, nonchalantly reached for my ketchup container, tugged the upper crust out, and showed me that I had been using these ketchup containers wrong my entire life.

Now my dunking apparatus looked like this:

Amazing. I will never look at people using ketchup in the pre-fanned containers the same again. Hell, I can barely look at myself in the mirror for doing it incorrectly my entire l  ife.

Thanks mom and dad, for teaching me absolutely nothing about proper ketchup eating. At least now I know.

Elie is a product of Orange County, CA. In early 2012, his dentist diagnosed him with 8 different cavities, three of which on the same tooth, as a result of his 23-year Sour Patch Kid addiction.

In this article:
  • daze

     mind = blown

  • Stephanie Dorman

    ….. I don’t even know how I did not know this my entire life.  

  • John Zaffino

    Well I’ll be a…….. I’ve been using these things for about 55 years, and I didn’t know this??? Crazy!

  • ChrissMari

    I am not being a jerk.  I pull my cups out as flat as possible.  In fact I hate getting hard plastic cups because you can’t pull them out. 

  • Anonymous

    It’s really society that failed us here…Or McDonalds. I blame the teachers. 

  • Louis Melledy

    none of the images are loading for me>

  • Angel Fan
  • John

    Did you make this up yourself or put it together from reddit like you write for gawker?

    • Anonymous

      Matt is a real life person, in fact the true story is it was a combination of my friend Dominic, telling my friend Matt, and both of them explained the “Ketchup Fanning” to me that one day at the beach. We did not pull this from the Gawker sites, they [via] us — nor do we write for them.

  • John
  • Bow Hunter

    wow never knew that

  • Jonathan Franks

    I’ve been doing this since i was like 10!  BK onion rings never fit either, so i would just loosen up the sides of the container and was able to eat my ketchup with my onion rings. ha ha!  

    • Jack Holt

      SOMETHING THAT COULD HAVE BEEN BROUGHT TO OUR ATTENTION YESTERDAY!!!!!!! to Quote Billy Madison. But seriously, you’ve known for all these years and didn’t spill the beans…er… ketchup?

      • oops

        That was Robbie in The Wedding Singer

  • Dan McCallum

    I never knew that.

  • Alec Rippberger

    I’ve never seen anyone fan out their ketchup cup. That makes me wonder, is it your fault or just bad product design?

  • Brent

    “We”? You (and most of these commenters, apparently). Most of us aren’t dumb. 

  • Jennifer Navarrete

    Wow. that is some serious genius happening there. I agree with you about the parenting fail on this one. Now need to go rectify this with my own 22 & 17 year old sons. They will not lead a life of improper ketchup cup use on my watch!

  • Anonymous

    I suspect that the ability of the ketchup cup (aka condiment cup, aka souffle cup) to be “fanned out” is simply a by-product of its design, and not the intent of the design.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you!

    • Scott Buscemi

      Why wouldn’t they just make it a perfect circle then?

      • Elroy Jetson

        Dispensing mechanisms don’t like perfect circles. (sometimes you need a little wiggle to get it out of a dispenser if one is used.) Leave it to the MIT guys to figure that one out.

      • Irene3

        takes up space, have you ever noticed in stores containers that change the shape of the bottle to save what ever space they can 

      • Ohai Dere

        Because when they make it, they just stamp it out and it’s the cleanest way.

    • Elroy Jetson

      There’s probably a machine that cuts the shape from flat stock, folds, counts, stacks and packages all within about 1/2 second time per each cup. Design.

    • Biology


  • SideEffectsAdderall


  • JulietJeske

    White people problems  :-)

    • Michelle

      I can’t be the only person to find the term “white people problems” offensive, can I? I believe the term “first world problems” is more applicable than what you’re saying and is at least not racist.

      • Henry Wolf

        Because there is no McDonald’s in developing nations? Great. Now you aren’t racist – you’re nationalist. Which is just as bad.

        • William Walker

          That’s not nationalism…but they are both words that endin -ism…

        • mBass

          stfu, honkeys

          • Mark Rose

            black people problems

          • Darrell

            black racist problem

        • Mark Rose

          stupid people problems

      • Henry Wolf

        Not to mention that it was a White person making the comment.

      • Jeff

        It offends me because it’s not clever or insightful at all. You could say “first world problems” or “white people problems” to 99.9% of the things in life. What’s the point?

        • Anonymous

          Well yeah in 99.9% of things in white people lives.

          • Jeff

            Do you really believe that? That whites and non-whites are really that different? That they only have 0.1% in common? It’s not like we’re different species, we all do basically the same things. Black people drive cars, they ride trains, they use internet services, and they eat hamburgers. They have all these same problems that you dismiss as so trivial by labeling them “white people problems.”

          • Guest

            @yahoo-QKC5C6JWYCWORIDKK73T5ZYBQM:disqus I agree, and I know White people like Corn Bread and Catfish. :)

          • James Alexander Rodriguez

            i worked a catering event recently to help out a family friend and i was taking orders and passing out the appropriate bun to go with their order as well as taking payment for said food. 100% of the black people that ordered a hamburger walked away from the grill with chicken on their bun. so no, blacks dont eat hamburgers so you are wrong.

        • Cj Mango

          its a white person problem. Not a first world problem, there are other races living in first world countries, including the USA having issue with such small mandane things are called white people problems.

        • Mark Rose

          internet people problems

      • Anonymous

         Being offended by that counts as a white people problem.

        • BrassyCassy

          False. It’s not offensive to white people, because by calling this a “white people problem” rather than a “first world problem,” you’re suggesting that all non-white people in the first-world are too poor or something to afford to eat at places that serve ketchup cups.

          That’s raaacist!!

          • Cj Mango

            white person problem !

          • Cj Mango

            white people problem refer to complains white people make in life that are so trivial they are almost offensive. Such as jeez my job does not offer free gym memberships as a benefit. Or my gosh I didnt know ketchup cups can be unfolded geez wow

          • Mark Rose

            white people internet problems

        • Erynn Schwellinger

          BrasyCassy is almost correct, but actually it’s offensive to white people living in poverty, too.

      • Irene3

        so who ever got to decide white people are first world, who’s second and who’s third? 

        • Makeup Muse

           This is a ‘white people’ debate.

        • Mark Rose

          surburban troglodyte problems

      • Irene3

        if your white why be offended? your white! why is there a sense of offense , do you think you complain a lot? or what… i do not see how that can offend a white person, do not all white people “first world people” feel happy proud even that they are white?

        • Cj Mango

          if they do thats white people problem

        • Mark Rose

          Soccer mom problems

        • Anonymous

          Offensive are yelling white people that don’t even know the correct use of the word YOUR and have the most racist undertone going for them of anyone here.

          How is it that I expect those two traits to fit perfectly together?

          • Mark Rose

            grammar nazi problems

      • Cj Mango

        sounds like a white people problem Michelle

      • Aarnie Aardvark

        Ketchup cup = white people problems. Unable to use food stamps to buy fast food = black people problems.

        • Mark Rose

          Idiot problems

      • Mark Rose

        Caucasian people problems?

      • BeObjective

        People in general tend to complain more when they are given (granted) things instead of earning it; hence, the phrase taking things for granted. The phrase “white people problems” isn’t derivative of racism, or any sort of “caste system”, if you would call it so. Historically, we can all agree, white supremacy existed and still somewhat exists. Not to say it other races don’t have a sense of supremacy, but white people take the reigns for lengthiest declaration. As a result, the sense of entitlement trickles down the lineage for so long, that people’s sense of value depletes to iphones, accessories, and apps instead of food, health, and homes. The biggest problem they face in their life is not having wifi service in the restaurant they decided to eat at. You could say it’s a first world problem; however, it’s not a first world problem it’s an over-privileged, under-worked, entitlement problem. BLACK PEOPLE CAN HAVE WHITE PEOPLE PROBLEMS TOO. The term is just a term used because these types of problems are more heavily associated as being projected, and verbally accentuated by white people. TYPICALLY, in a white household, everyone is complaining about not getting wifi at Carrabba’s, while in a black household it’s probably just the kids complaining. The percentage of complainer’s is just increased amongst white people. And if you’re offended by this, learn to not be so sensitive, and actually understand where, how, and why things happen. We are all the same, yet SO different. We as people have history, you can’t forget that, but you also can’t let that history be a crutch. If you don’t rise above it, you live under it forever.

    • Elroy Jetson

      sooo… other races don’t eat ketchup? Perhaps your misplaced intolerance is with the color ‘red’.

    • Lorretta Wakefield

      This is racist if you said black peoples problem you would be called racist racism works both ways it’s about time people realised that

    • Mavadotar

      You’re all wrong, those are AMERICAN problems, lol

  • William Walker

    I find that the little cup isn’t enough.  So I fill the top of my burger box with ketchup.

    • HERGiE

      Now this Willy Walker, he has the right idea!

  • Anonymous

    Did you know that boxes of aluminum foil have tabs on each end?  You can push them in to prevent the roll from popping out of the box!

    • Danny

      the more you know!

      • bryan silva

        this gets 1 like and the black white crap gets about 70….

        • Mark Rose

          aluminum foil post problems

    • Ronnie

      Your a genius. Thank you.

    • Matt D

      Knowledge is power!

    • Mohawk

      Using this next time I use that busted up ass box of aluminum foil!

    • Valheru Wolf

      hm atleast this one was actually designed to be used that way, not a by product like the ketchup which was just a design to be leak proof (other other design involving glue to attach the sides around would leak at the seam)

    • Elly

      No way, I just had to go check and youre right! Why are these things no common knowledge?!!

  • Batistick13

    If you did not know this your retarded…

    • Homer Sexual

      If you don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re,” then you’re retarded.

  • Dex

    I can’t be the only person in the world that squeezes the cup on to a tray/food wrapper instead of keeping it in the cup?

    • Mike Lindenberger

      I use a cup lid turned upside down. Hands down the greatest. So much can fit on the XL.

    • Mark DeGraffenreid

      I skip the cup altogether…just dispense the ketchup onto the tray liner…why waste the cup for :28 of use?

  • Soap in the Bathroom

    This changes EVERYTHING!

  • Anonymous

    You can also blow the cups up to twice the size they are before you put ketchup in them. Just make a nice tight seal by pressing the tiny cup up against your lips and palm, then blow. Instant giant ketchup holder.

    Work well when you get the same style cup at the water cooler.

    • Anonymous

      Haha I grew up watching my dad do this :)

  • Tommi

    jjees jees kezuppia cansalle

  • Berant

    so this is the way you make money out of blogging!

  • Abi FullerGardener

    We use pots similar to this at work for medication, and this is not the proper use for them. Yes, they CAN be fanned out, but SHOULD they? I doubt it.

  • Melissa Limasse

    Mind. Blown.

  • Catherina

    We don’t have ketchup cups in Australia. We have those little plastic thingies that squirt out tomato sauce, which usually misses the target and ends up on your shirt.

  • Tulleuchen

    Haha, I kinda remember seeing that one time. But I forgot. Thanks for allowing me to again remember. Lol.

  • Nona Morris

    I just came away from thsi thinking, “You dunk your burgers in ketchup?”  I dip my fries, but have never dipped my burger into anything.  

    • geeemayiel

      I dip my burgers, too. Opening a fast food cheeseburger bun and smearing on ketchup is too much effort. Whoppers aren’t so bad, but a regular cheeseburger just falls apart. Whoppers give me mad gas, though. The kind that makes you feel like your chest and abdomen are collapsing.

    • Michael Nance

      I dunk my burgers in hot mustard sauce from McNuggets. The spicy mustard is awesome on a Quarter Pounder.

    • lori

      I thought the same thing! Who dunks their burgers.

  • Strength N Motion

    Matt is awesome for clueing the rest of us in. How did he know about it? I have never met anyone who knows that.

  • A5J4DX


  • Shadow

    I like mine un-fanned still, thank you.  I just take three or four to get what I need.

  • Robin Du

    Lol! I never knew that was how I was supposed to use the condiment cups! I’ve used those at fast food restaurants and small  mom/pop restaurants my WHOLE life (33 years) and never knew….

    I will correct this :P It makes ALOT of sense and yes….I also suffered from issues trying to dunk something large into the tiny cups.

  • Vicki Brown

    Same goes for the funny little fan-out disposable cups at water dispensers.

  • sump

    Mindblowing indeed. I had no idea! And have never even seen anyone else do it!

  • Butch Naylor

    If you are a real ketchup lover, grab a soft drink cup top.

  • Anonymous

    That works until the ketchup moistens the folds and your now rimless paper condiment cup unfolds into a ketchup topped tostada.

    I am amazed at non-solutions to non-problems.

    Discreetly cut down or tear down a paper cup. Holds a more serious quantity of ketchup as well.

    • Guest

      If you’ve never dipped your burger you’re missing out on a world of fun! :P

  • Elroy Jetson

    Wow, and I’ve been doing it wrong all along. I don’t even grab the paper cups; I use the small cup lids and fill them with ketchup. McD’s hates me.

  • Anonymous

    It makes about 20% difference. Here’s the calculation

  • Johnny Dangerously

    You’re only allowed to consume 1oz of Ketchup per sitting in NYC

  • Kevin Holt

    I figured out this lil trick when I was a kid. I tell everyone to do this! It only makes sense. I just hate it when the lil cup tears…

  • Paul

    I think i realized this at age 6. Listen more often to your children. It’s so clear this is a white problem and why shouldn’t it be. This is the burden of the white man.

  • Sylvia Mzz

    Yeah, but now the ketchup cup is unstable. Who the heck wants to eat ketchup off the dirty food trays or tables? Or maybe ketchup cup fanning can become part of the GOP platform — you’re going to hell if you don’t fan your ketchup cup….

  • Ivan Pope

    ‘Dunking apparatus’ sounds like a euphemism.

  • Mark Anthony Baer

    Thanks for wasting my time on this article and all the ignorant comments.

  • Guest

    I’m not white, and I find that white people get more offended by what they think is ‘racism’ more than anyone else. ‘White people problems’ comment was written by a white girl. Chill everyone. It is neither racist to a non-white nor is it racist to a white. It’s just an observation. Not everything is racist, and y’all obvs have no clue what real racism is.

  • Ronnie

    If you hold a Heinz ketchup glass bottle on the 57 in the middle of the bottle (it’ll be raised so you can feel it), that angle dispenses ketchup with the best air to ketchup ratio so you don’t sit there hitting the top of the bottle till it all falls out.

  • Hilary ‘Fraser’ Fiskeaux

    We’ve always used that feature to make empty cups into flowers…never thought about doing it with ketchup inside! LOL

  • Candace Cook

    i am FREAKING AMAZED! Will never use them the old way again! This is gonna revolutionize the fast food fry dunking experience!

  • Tracey Chen

    Please buy only organic ketchup. Even if you don’t care what the big food companies are doing to this planet, care about your own body: it’s all (HFCS) high-fructose (GMO) corn syrup…

  • Aprildawn Hale

    Eh I had no idea they could do that either. But really, i’d rather see a bottle of ketchup at every table anyway.

  • shitfit

    or you could dip one fry at a time, or just put ketchup on the burger. I don’t know anyone who smothers a burger with ketchup in ketchup. Do you really need to cram 10 fries in your mouth at once? Why don’t you just bring your own shovel and fill it with ketchup? Then you won’t have to taste any of that nasty food. Inject your ketchup in the vein like a ketchup junkie. Just pick up a bottle of ketchup and skip the burger and fries all together. I don’t think you should be giving advice on anything food related if you actually have such bad taste that you needed to find a way to get as much ketchup as possible all over everything. No wonder we’re having an obesity epidemic in America, we’ve eroded our taste-buds down into ketchup-flavor-receptors.

  • shitfit

    ITT fat ass americans shovel condiments down their fat ass gullets while distracting themselves from their own fat asses by making sweeping generalizations about race. OHHH NOM NOM FUCKIN NOM NOM WHITE PEOPLE ARE ALL ALIKE NOM NOM. NOM NOM BLACK PEOPLE ARE NOM NOM NOM ALL ALIKE NOM NOM NOM. Fucking pathetic.

    • lol

      Anyone else see the irony in this comment… He/she is complaining about people making sweeping generalizations while making one himself/herself

    • frumpus

      you are one of the worst people on the planet.

  • shitfit

    Nice creepy stalker/rapist stare at the end of that video. You really have those dead eyes going for you.

  • shitfit

    all you’ve done is turned a cup into a flat piece of paper that can’t contain the ketchup. Congratulations, you just got ketchup all over the place you stupid fat fuck. Next week, how to get mayo all over a table.

  • wordkyle

    Ah, but what you gain in breadth you lose in depth, which is much more important to single-fry dunkers. This characteristic is desirable for widebody potato products such as cottage fries or tater tots (which can cause souffle cup overflow.) Note: I have never, in all my decades of burger eating, “dunked” a burger into ketchup. When ketchup was deemed necessary to complete a bite of burger, I instinctively went for strategic, pinpoint accurate application to the bitten edge. Now I feel like a rube with OCD.

  • Edward Johansen

    I worked at a tavern years ago and we used to serve nuts in those little white containers. If the clients were good tippers they good the exanded cup of nuts. BTW, a lid from from the soda cup holds a lot more ketchup then one of those lil white containers!

  • meg

    can you think of a way that when driving and eating fries etc something that could attach somewhere – maybe cupholder that would hold your ketchup so you good dunk while driving?

  • Ricky fitz

    Paper is cheaper then plastic, that is one reason we don’t stamp these particular cups, although any Outback or Chilis does provide stamped out cups to go when they need to last for a long time, even over night in a fridge

    These cups are made like this because they are not meant to last more then 30 minutes when filled with sauce. Paper is cheap, and the less paper we use to make these, the more profit we have. Now as one commenter said, you unfan the cup and it becomes a wet sloppy mess. The folds are there to give it structure and to absorb some of the sauce without floundering. It’s not meant to be unfanned but if it makes your experience more enjoyable go for it.

  • Yu Dumash

    What I don’t understand are the places that offer this (and not ketchup packets) but nothing to cover it with so of course they squash and soil the entire bag of food. I don’t want soggy fries before I get to them! but now I guess I can take another cup, fan it open and use it as a cover …

    • Anonymous

      Not really meant for to-go orders. The tiny paper ketchup cup is like the Wicked Witch of the West; it melts when it gets wet.

  • Christina Jenness

    also great for Jell-o shots for the same reason!

  • Anonymous

    Certainly explains why we don’t have flying cars yet. With our species still struggling to master the tiny paper ketchup cup, there’s really not much hope for us.

  • Skewed True

    There’s an even easier way to do this AND increase the volume of ketchup to reduce multiple trips to the dispenser or multiple cups.

    Simply place the top firmly against your mouth (before filling, obviously), creating a seal around your lips, and gently blow, “puffing up” the container.

    You’ll end up with something more like a “kettle” than a “flower-pot”.

    If you need to widen the mouth after that, continue as described here.

  • Jude I⚡caяiot

    You could simply not even 25 fries in each bite and it’ll be fine.

  • Jason Cirillo

    I have to say, I have never heard my food fart like that before.

  • Betsi Eisman Caprara

    Who dunks their hamburger in the first place? Usually people spread it on the burger or bun before eating.

    • Anonymous

      You’d be surprised.

  • Danny Sauer

    Wouldn’t it be easier to just put an already-flat napkin on your tray and pump the ketchup onto that? If you want a heap of ketchup, make a heap. If you want a cup, use a cup. Don’t rip a cup apart and act like you’ve solved the world’s problems by inventing “something flat”.

  • Anonymous
  • robert christerson

    we were tought in school to do this in 3rd or fourth grade – but back then they were ketchup saucers …. lol …. run

  • Brian Bush

    i just use a soft drink lid… its already flat and its right next to the stupid paper cups


    And Chinese take out boxes become plates!!

  • dizzycat

    Did you know that Chinese Takeout containers become plates.

  • Tanya Reid Mize

    I discovered this many years ago by way of fidgeting. Except I fanned it all the way out. Then the ketchup looks like a sun. Even better if its mustard.

  • Kyle Kleinstuber

    People use this? Facepalm.

  • Tom Cnyc

    just use the top of the box your burger came in and skip using 19 of these dumbass things.

  • animageofmine

    I liked the article until the last line, where I lost respect for you completely. If you don’t know something, blame it on parents ? How stupid…

  • Rick

    Who friggin cares…If its empty refill it.. it ain’t rocket science people! Infact even better…don’t eat that shit!

  • derp

    LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME – o wait, mcdonalds is grimy

  • Morf

    I just put my mouth around the nozzle and pour straight in. Either that or put it on a flat piece of paper and just rub my face in it

  • DjUncle Festa

    “Tiny Paper Cup” ??? – Also known as a Tampoon. Is capable of expansion once full of red liquid…….Tampoon a necessity……Tiny Paper Cup for ketchup ????????? Bin it!

  • Ralph Kennicott

    If it’s ain’t broke, don’t fix it!!

  • Jacob ChootEm Shedivy

    Amateurs…use a fountain drink lid…they are recyclable, require no work to “fan out”, require one less item to be stocked or grabbed, come in multiple sizes so you can choose based on personal ketchup habits, and provide great surface area for dipping burgers…

  • Guest

    I think you can only really say we’ve been using them WRONG if we’ve been turning the cups upside down, thus spilling ketchup everywhere and preventing us from dipping our fries.

    I mean, if we’ve managed to dip our fries into the ketchup, we’re using it right. It’s an interesting story, but really, I don’t give a f*ck how I get the ketchup to the fry, as long as it gets there.

  • James Alexander Rodriguez

    three things: 1) anyone that thinks they can get away with dippin that many fries or the huge of a burger into such a small container is either a fat fuck idiot or just an idiot.

    2) pour the fucking ketchup onto the burger dont dip it ya fucking savage animal.

    3) the designer assumed you werent such a greedy fat pig and needed to douse everything you eat in ketchup. he/she is probably rolling in their fucking grave right now because of your fat greey ass. learn some self control

  • Krissy

    Why are you dunking your burgers in the first place? Wouldn’t you just smear the ketchup on top of it? When it comes to ketchup, the only thing I’d want to dip is fries. I don’t see any reason to dip anything else.

  • Golden Bear

    Just got back from Thailand and their ketchup cups are trays like this and I thought they were totally useless until I used them. Then I found out they were the tits.

  • Reality Check

    Or just pour the ketchup onto your wrapper for the EXACT SAME effect.

  • Michelle Nuñez

    I have been schooled.

  • Anthony


  • Jordan

    Should have left the creepy tongue thing at the end out…