Friday, February 6, 2015

Save the grapes

Every now and again, I like to utilize this powerful soapbox upon which I currently stand to shed light on issues that affect good, hard-working Americans. Today is one of those days. I was involved in what can only be described as a tragic situation. My hope is that by bringing this event into the light of the public eye, someone else won’t have to witness the horrors that keep me up at night.

It all started innocently enough. I was eating lunch at my friend’s house, and his father cooked some hamburgers for us to feast on. I have been a hamburger/cheeseburger aficionado for my entire life, and his beefy patties looked to be top notch. As you’ll soon discover, it’s too bad that I wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy them.

I’m kind of picky about my hamburgers. I like them to be constructed in an organized manner. I don’t like things to be disorderly and askew. I usually put the onions, pickles, tomatoes or whatever else is available, directly on top of the bottom bun and under the meat. If cheese is involved (one of the orange kinds), it usually goes directly on top of this stuff, adjacent to the meat. The top of the burger is utilized strictly for even condiment distribution.

That particular day, I had come to the time for mustard and ketchup application. I like to put the mustard on the hamburger first because, as we all know, it can be the trickiest of the condiments. First of all, you have to deal with the hard, crusty yellow chunk that is usually found at the tip of the squeezy bottle. It’s kind of like scraping that crunchy thing out of the corner of your eye in the morning. It probably tastes the same too. Following that procedure, the user must, and I cannot possibly overstate this, the user must vigorously shake the mustard bottle. This is to ensure the bottle’s contents become properly mixed so your otherwise delicious burger is not swimming in yellowy, watery mustard juice.

I am happy to say that I successfully applied the mustard. It was a thing of beauty, a nice, even yellow ring that laced the perimeter of the burger. All that was left to complete my culinary masterpiece was placing the proper amount of ketchup within that golden circle. Who could have predicted the disaster that was about to occur?

As I gently squeezed the plastic sides of the inverted plastic ketchup bottle, naturally expecting a nice little dollop to emerge, absolutely nothing happened. So I squeezed a little harder. Still nothing. Concern was mounting.

Sweating, I checked the weight of the bottle. There was definitely tomatoey contents within its red plastic confines. In fact, the bottle was nearly full. I looked down inside the hole on top suspecting it was a brand new bottle and maybe the little protective thingy hadn’t been removed yet. That wasn’t the case. I was peering down directly into the tangy red goodness. Evidently I just wasn’t using enough muscle during the squeezing process.

So I once again aimed the container at my hamburger’s epicenter. I squeezed with a grip pressure I believed to be enough to achieve the intended dollop. There was nothing.

So I squeezed a bit harder. Still nothing. I kept increasing the pounds per square inch of exerted pressure, and there was still nothing coming out of the stubborn bottle.

Feeling increasingly frustrated and discouraged, I gave it one final squeeze. And with a loud, echoing “ppppphhhhhhhhbbbbbbbttttt!!!!” noise (that sounded exactly like something reminiscent of the baked bean scene from “Blazing Saddles”), the ketchup came gushing out in an uncontrollable wave of crimson messiness. Oh the humanity!

The force of the ketchup coming out of the bottle was roughly equal to the explosive power of the Saturn V rockets once used by NASA. It emerged at such a high rate of speed, it shot by its intended beefy target and all over the side of my plate and part of the kitchen counter top. Some ketchup shrapnel even splattered onto the seedless grapes that I had distanced from the burger for a nice fruity treat. Everyone was staring at me to see if the “ppppphhhhhhhhbbbbbbbttttt!!!!” noise had come from the bottle or from an orifice on my body. The fear in their eyes was genuine. The rest of the meal was eaten under a pall of uneasiness. We could not unsee what had been seen.

Due to this condiment disaster, I publicly call for greater governmental regulation in the squeezy condiment bottle industry. Whether it be ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise or even pickle relish, consistency in squeezability should be, no, must be strived for. The amount of pressure you exert on one bottle needs to be equal to what is exerted on any other bottle. Is that really too much to ask for?

So I urge you to write letters to your congressional representatives, your senators, even the president to do something about this squeezy scourge that is running rampant in restaurants and cafeterias across this once great condiment-controlled nation of ours. I may never be able to get past this horrible event, but please, let’s come together to fix this problem now. Let’s do it for America’s children.

And the seedless grapes.

You can contact Wallace at You can follow him on his blog at

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