Catsup or ketchup is one of the most common flavorings added to food today, and it has a very long history. While its real origins might be a bit distasteful to some, the product today is one used in millions of households. It might seem odd that one item has two very differently spelled names, but the meaning is the same for all those who add it to their favorite recipes or top off a food with its delicious flavoring.
As with many foods known today, there is a long story spanning many centuries behind this treat. Credit is given to Wu-ti, an emperor whose time was well before Christianity came into being. He was said to have come upon a pit where the entrails of fish had been left, and the delicious smell tempted him to try it. Once his people learned how to make it, the name Chu I was given to it. As the language evolved and the food flavoring migrated to Indonia, it became known as koechiap.
Travel long distances was the way much of the world was settled and connected, and sailing was one of the best ways to reach the far corners of the globe in the late seventeenth century. Sailors from Great Britain, trading throughout the Pacific basin eventually discovered this wonderful and began exporting it. At about that time, they made the name easier on their customers by labeling it catchup. It was then that the real division of names began as some labeled it ketchup. While it was still basically a fish sauce, this is where the various names originated.
The English were known for being world travelers and traders, and their spreading empire brought their culture and elements of others across the globe. While they retained the two different names for their exports, they began changing it by adding spices from other cultures where they traded. It is when they began exporting it to the West in volume that the lack of anchovies began to really create the tomato flavoring, sans anchovies, that is popular today.
A slew of different ingredients became the new base as anchovies are unavailable, and the substitutes seemingly most popular were often walnuts. Various seasonings and spices were added, but it was not until the early nineteenth century when tomatoes became the base known today. A physician by the name of Alexander Hunter was one of the first where documentation for a tomato sauce is recognized, and his creative recipe began a new era.
About the time of Dr. Hunter, the West was expanding quickly in America where tomatoes were abundant. While the name of the sauce was unchanged as far as catsup or ketchup, the ingredients were often what were available locally.
Capitalism has long been an important part of trading and selling, and marketing has also been a component of creating a demand. For some people the name catsup was what they wanted, but others preferred ketchup. While many varieties have been created over the centuries, some companies simply used two different labels to create and sell the same product in use today.