Condiment Expert Guesses Which Condiment is More Expensive

In this episode of 'Price Points', Epicurious challenges condiment expert Scott Norton of Sir Kensington's to guess which one of two condiments is more expensive. Scott breaks down ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, ranch and BBQ sauce before making his guesses!

Released on 12/20/2018

Transcript

00:00
I'm Scott Norton and I'm a condiment expert.
00:03
[whimsical music]
00:06
Wow.
00:10
[bell rings]
00:15
Let's dive in.
00:16
So we'll start with ketchup A here.
00:19
Smooth, glossy, reflecting a lot of the light
00:22
that comes off it with a sheen.
00:24
And we'll give it a sniff.
00:26
Some sweetness that we smell.
00:29
And a little bit of spice.
00:32
You can also start to see a little bit of water
00:34
pooling around the edges of ketchup A.
00:37
Water is leeching out of the tomato particles,
00:40
out of those cell walls which have collapsed
00:42
when cooking and this we call syneresis.
00:45
This is a bit of a gloopy product.
00:48
Definitely an industrial ketchup
00:50
that is really quintessential for a ketchup.
00:53
And ketchup B texture is radically different.
00:58
You see almost a chunkiness here.
01:00
Something that has little ridges.
01:02
A little bit less syneresis and is generally
01:06
more of a textured product.
01:09
Giving that a sniff, it's more muted.
01:12
Less tartness, a little less sweetness.
01:14
Not as much spice and maybe a little bit more bitter.
01:17
And this is actually a looser product
01:19
as you can see here, it's actually got less viscosity
01:23
and it's dripping off the spoon.
01:26
So first we're gonna taste ketchup A here
01:28
and what better to dip it in than its best friend
01:32
the french fry.
01:32
Gonna dip that in there, give it a munch.
01:38
It's a nice, salty fry.
01:40
And we get the acid and we get the sweetness
01:42
of the ketchup coming through.
01:44
Definitely a classic complement.
01:46
All right let's move to ketchup B.
01:48
Now let's give this the fry test.
01:52
Coats the fry very well.
01:56
Doesn't have the acid that it needs.
01:58
Doesn't have the saltiness that it needs
02:00
even with the presence of salt in the french fry.
02:02
I have to say this is definitely a different ketchup
02:05
than the classic ketchup.
02:06
Ketchup A is something that is gonna immediately speak
02:09
to us because it's the ketchup of our childhood.
02:11
A ketchup that we formed an emotional bond with
02:14
when it was one of the first foods that we could
02:16
actually control ourselves at the dinner table
02:19
when our parents gave us a bottle of this stuff.
02:21
You know that this ketchup has a big market,
02:24
a big audience.
02:25
This is the ubiquitous ketchup in America,
02:28
and because of that ubiquity,
02:30
there's very high production volumes
02:32
which allows the price to decrease.
02:35
Whereas ketchup B here is likely made with a more
02:38
artisanal, small-patch process.
02:41
My wager would be that ketchup A is the cheaper
02:44
of these two ketchups and ketchup B is the more expensive.
02:48
So let's find out. [drum rolling]
02:51
There's a huge difference here.
02:53
Ketchup B is almost nine times as expensive as ketchup A.
02:57
That is a massive difference when we think about
02:59
two things that have the same name or more or less
03:02
the same product.
03:03
So just because these two ketchups have very different
03:06
price points doesn't necessarily mean that one
03:08
is better than the other.
03:09
Don't let anyone tell you what ketchup you should
03:12
or shouldn't be eating based on nostalgia
03:14
or based on the culinary arts.
03:15
In fact, beauty is in the eye of the beholder
03:18
and nowhere is that more true than in ketchup.
03:22
Two delicious looking mayonnaises.
03:25
Clearly we immediately see a difference in color.
03:28
With mayo A being a little bit more yellow,
03:33
a little bit more golden,
03:35
maybe communicating to us that there's a higher
03:37
egg yolk content.
03:39
Mayo A, quite mild.
03:43
A little bit vinegary, a little bit sour.
03:46
You can see from the texture here that this one
03:48
is really thick without a lot of air pockets in it.
03:51
This is really like a homemade mayo.
03:54
Has stiff peaks and holds its character really,
03:58
really well with a nice yellowish color.
04:01
And in mayo B, we have something that's a bit more white.
04:05
Perhaps less egg yolk.
04:07
Mayo B, pretty inert, not a lot of flavor coming off
04:11
of this one.
04:12
And looking at the texture, it's a bit more gloopy
04:15
and anemic with less stiff peaks and higher air content.
04:21
An air content like this which suggests that
04:23
perhaps it was made more with an industrial mill
04:27
than with a typical home-style blending method.
04:30
So why don't we taste mayo A.
04:32
Let's dump one of these bad boys in there
04:34
and see what we get.
04:38
Mm.
04:39
Great mouthfeel, really complements the starch
04:43
in the fries and the salt in the fries
04:45
and that fat carries the flavors and dials them up.
04:48
So now mayo B, let's give it the fry test.
04:54
Give a dip here, texture's actually quite nice.
04:57
Cloud-like.
05:00
It doesn't quite hold up to the fry.
05:03
It doesn't accentuate the saltiness
05:05
and I can taste that synthetic preservative
05:08
that I don't love as much.
05:10
I can also taste far less egginess.
05:13
Far less of that rich and savory flavor that you get
05:17
from mayo A which would suggest to me
05:19
that this has less egg yolk in it.
05:23
Looking at both mayo A and mayo B,
05:25
I would wager to guess that mayo B is the less expensive
05:29
of the two, so let's see where we're at, yeah.
05:34
Well the proof is in the pudding.
05:36
At much higher price point, we have mayo A
05:39
at 74 cents an ounce and much less expensive,
05:42
14 cents an ounce for mayo B.
05:44
So a very wide margin between the price of these two mayos.
05:48
If you're shopping for mayo, you wanna look for a mayo
05:51
that does have a relatively high calorie count,
05:54
something that packs a punch when it comes to fat.
05:57
That's gonna drive a delicious texture.
05:59
That's gonna lubricate your sandwich better,
06:02
and that's gonna stand up great in something like
06:04
a tuna salad or a potato salad.
06:09
Looks like we have two mustards here.
06:12
My guess is that these are actually
06:13
two different types of mustard.
06:15
This one is likely a yellow, and this one is either
06:19
a Dijon mustard or it's a yellow mustard that has oxidized
06:24
and gone off.
06:25
Let's try mustard A.
06:26
Let's give it a sniff.
06:29
We get some acid on the nose and it's pungent,
06:33
and a bit spicy.
06:34
So something that we should remember with mustard
06:38
is that there are a couple different types of
06:41
spiciness or heat.
06:42
There's the spiciness and the heat that we know
06:44
from chili peppers which comes from capsaicin,
06:47
kinda burns the mouth.
06:48
That's very different than the type of heat
06:50
that you get from mustard which is a gustatory heat
06:53
that actually is felt in the nose.
06:56
This is a mustard that has a bit of that gustatory heat,
06:59
though it isn't an intense spicy mustard.
07:02
We'll start with a tasting spoon here.
07:04
You see when we look at this yellow mustard right here,
07:06
it's got a strong, vibrant hue which comes from both
07:11
the yellow mustard seeds and the turmeric
07:13
which is bright yellow.
07:15
It's totally homogenous.
07:16
This one doesn't have any flecks of anything in it.
07:19
And with mustard B,
07:22
it's a bit more mild.
07:23
Almost a bit sweeter actually and less spicy in the nose.
07:28
This mustard here, when we look at it closely,
07:31
we'll see that there are these little brown flecks
07:35
in a sea of light golden yellow.
07:38
Those brown flecks are likely the exterior
07:41
of the brown mustard seed and give it more
07:44
of a pungent flavor.
07:46
So now why don't we try giving them a taste.
07:49
Let's taste it with a pairing, in this case a pretzel.
07:56
Mm, really nice, really flavorful.
07:58
Though the bitterness comes through additionally
08:02
as we have the salt and the crunchiness
08:05
of this pretzel here.
08:06
Looking at mustard B, we'll taste it with a pretzel.
08:12
Mm, sophisticated, yet strong.
08:14
This is a mustard that, unlike this mustard here,
08:17
it actually pairs quite nicely with the pretzel
08:19
and compliments the saltiness and the crunchiness
08:23
of this pretzel.
08:24
So looking at these two mustards,
08:26
our yellow mustard over here which is very vibrant
08:28
and straight ahead, and our Dijon mustard over here.
08:32
I can likely infer some differences in quality
08:36
and costs and in price points.
08:38
There are three types of mustard seeds,
08:40
the first is yellow, which is likely what mustard A
08:43
is made out of.
08:44
Yellow in color and potent, but not overly spicy.
08:48
The second type of mustard seed is a brown mustard seed
08:51
that has an exterior which is brown
08:53
and an interior which is lighter.
08:55
That's likely what mustard B is made out of.
08:57
Third type of mustard seed is oriental mustard seed.
09:00
It's stronger and it's much more rare
09:02
to find oriental mustard in America.
09:05
The price of mustard seeds doesn't vary that much,
09:09
but the price of the white wine which likely
09:12
went into this Dijon mustard and the scale of production
09:15
that a yellow mustard like this probably enjoys
09:18
would lead me to believe that this is the less expensive
09:21
mustard of the two and this is the more expensive mustard.
09:24
So let's see what we get. [drum rolling]
09:27
All right, the Dijon is four times as expensive
09:30
as the yellow.
09:31
That's a significant difference in price
09:33
and likely to be expected.
09:34
Dijon mustard is famously a premium product.
09:37
As evidenced in advertisements of two people
09:40
in Rolls-Royces coming next to each other
09:42
and asking each other for a product like that.
09:44
This is a more quotidian mustard,
09:46
but it's hard to find a bad mustard.
09:48
If you're eating a simple hot dog, a ballpark frank,
09:51
this might be the perfect mustard to complement it.
09:53
But you might not put this on a cheese board.
09:56
Instead, you might lean for something like a Dijon mustard,
10:00
a milder, more complex flavor, and a decidedly
10:04
more grown-up mustard.
10:07
Ranch, the granddaddy of dressing.
10:10
Salad dressings in America are about a $3 billion market
10:13
and ranch is 40% of that.
10:15
It's by far the most popular dressing in this country
10:18
and for good reason.
10:20
So let's start with ranch A here.
10:24
We immediately see that there's an off-white,
10:28
almost eggshell color to it.
10:30
A little bit creamy, a little bit brown.
10:35
As we give it a sniff,
10:37
we don't get much, it's fairly mild, not very acidic.
10:41
And nutty.
10:42
And I don't quite know what's driving that nutty flavor.
10:44
When we look at ranch B,
10:47
we see a very similar texture but actually,
10:50
almost more rubbery, almost more like Elmer's Glue,
10:53
and decidedly more white with more pronounced specks.
10:58
As we smell it,
11:00
almost no nose on this.
11:02
There's not really any flavor volatiles coming off of this.
11:05
It's relatively inert, but let's taste it
11:07
and give it a try.
11:08
So why don't we taste B with a carrot.
11:16
On a carrot, it really holds its own.
11:19
See, a carrot is mostly water and so you need
11:23
the saltiness and the savoriness and intensity
11:26
of the fat in this ranch dressing to balance out
11:28
with a carrot, and it actually does that quite nicely.
11:31
This would do the trick of making a salad
11:34
taste fatty and savory and salty
11:38
and basically distracting someone from recognizing
11:40
that they're eating vegetables in the first place.
11:43
Tasting ranch A.
11:49
Mm.
11:51
Decidedly less going on here.
11:54
There's less savory flavor, less fatty flavor,
11:58
and this nuttiness has become almost a sweetness.
12:02
I don't quite know how to describe what I'm tasting.
12:06
Before we fully judge it, let's try it with a carrot stick
12:10
and see what we think.
12:13
It almost disappears on the carrot.
12:15
Doesn't have the saltiness, doesn't have the savoriness.
12:18
Doesn't have the intensity and the fattiness.
12:20
This is likely a lighter dressing
12:22
when it comes to calorie counts and probably doesn't have
12:26
any agents that make it more savory.
12:29
As I look at these two ranch dressings,
12:31
pretty hard to determine the quality of ingredients
12:34
because the fattiness of it really overwhelms
12:37
the details that you get.
12:39
Likely the spices that are used are relatively similar.
12:43
They I think both come from dry spices.
12:45
Though both the fattiness of this and the savoriness
12:49
of this to me would suggest that this is probably
12:52
a more recognizable, mass-produced, industrial product.
12:56
And this one is maybe a less well-known brand,
12:59
or an off brand of some kind.
13:01
Both of them deliver that ranch flavor,
13:03
but ranch B certainly seems like it's more straight
13:07
and narrow in terms of what people expect
13:09
when it comes to ranch.
13:10
Ranch B is the least expensive of the two
13:14
and ranch A with its interesting nutty flavors going on
13:18
is probably the more expensive of the two,
13:21
but let's see what they are. [drum rolling]
13:24
Tada.
13:25
60 cents for ranch A and 30 cents for ranch B.
13:29
Ranch A is essentially double a cost of ranch B
13:33
and I think that's fairly consistent
13:34
with what we tasted here.
13:36
The tricky thing about ranch is that the flavors
13:39
that you might love and respond to so much
13:42
might be synthetic ingredients and chemicals
13:45
that you might not want to eat.
13:47
So it's really important to read the ingredient list
13:49
of ranch and all dressings that you're gonna be eating
13:52
and actually taste them to see what you like.
13:54
You can find ranches that are natural,
13:57
that will taste much stronger, more potent
13:59
and much more delicious than ranch A here.
14:01
So I don't necessarily wanna give non-traditional ranches
14:04
a bad name just 'cause we had this experience
14:07
with ranch A.
14:08
At the same time, if you like the intensity
14:11
and the nostalgia factor and the savory flavors
14:14
that you might get in a ranch like B, give that a try.
14:19
So let's take a look at barbecue sauce A.
14:23
We pick this up and we look at the texture.
14:27
We can see here that it's not very viscous.
14:31
It's pretty watery, actually.
14:32
The color is a nice, deep red and when we give it a sniff,
14:40
it has a really satisfying flavor.
14:43
A bit acidic, a bit sweet and a bit smoky.
14:47
But certainly barbecue sauce A doesn't really have
14:52
any thickeners in it at all
14:53
and it doesn't have enough sugar content to really make it
14:56
gloopy and jammy the way that B is.
14:59
As we look at barbecue sauce B,
15:01
we'll see here that the texture is significantly thicker
15:06
and a bit gloopier.
15:08
Giving it a smell.
15:11
We have a lot more smokiness, a lot more sweetness,
15:17
and the color of course is a deep brown molasses,
15:23
significantly darker and we said earlier
15:25
it's got a thicker, almost gloopy texture.
15:29
Which might suggest that this is a much sweeter product
15:33
with a higher sugar content.
15:35
Let's taste barbecue sauce A.
15:37
But of course, we can't just eat it on its own.
15:40
We have to eat it with at least some type of meat.
15:44
Even though this is not a barbecued product,
15:46
but we're working with what we got.
15:51
Mm, mm.
15:54
Brings wonderful tanginess.
15:56
The perfect degree of smoke, the perfect degree of sweetness
15:59
and a very dippable texture.
16:01
As a condimenteer myself, a true respect
16:05
for what they've done with this barbecue sauce.
16:07
So how does this sweet, smoky and ardently spiced product
16:15
stack up when it's on a chicken tender?
16:21
Mm.
16:22
Really approachable, really easy to eat.
16:25
But doesn't have the tang that I'd like.
16:27
But I think if I had to guess, a kid might prefer
16:30
this barbecue sauce over A because barbecue sauce B
16:35
has that sweeter profile.
16:37
I might think that it could be made with something
16:40
like a high fructose corn syrup which as we know,
16:43
is cheaper than a cane sugar or potentially
16:45
even a fruit sugar which is what A might be made from.
16:50
Tasting barbecue sauce A and B,
16:52
I would definitely guess that barbecue sauce A
16:56
is the pricier of the two and barbecue sauce B
17:00
is the less expensive, so what do we have here?
17:04
I'm right.
17:06
This is about half the price that barbecue sauce A is,
17:10
but compared to some of the other condiments
17:12
we've seen today, the difference of these prices,
17:14
one being double, is not nearly as much as we've seen
17:17
in other categories where it's been up to four
17:19
or even nine times in some cases.
17:22
If you're actually cooking with a barbecue sauce,
17:24
I would recommend a barbecue sauce that is like A
17:27
which is less sweet and more acidic.
17:30
The acid is gonna cook, tenderize and marinate
17:32
the meat a bit more and also sugar is one of
17:35
the first things to caramelize.
17:37
So if you were to coat a piece of meat in barbecue sauce B
17:42
and then grill it, that sugar's gonna carbonize,
17:45
but if you don't pull it off in time,
17:47
it's gonna almost taste like burnt toast
17:49
which isn't a very attractive flavor.
17:50
These are both really edible, approachable barbecue sauces,
17:54
though I still have a favorite in A.
17:58
Pardon me for double dipping.
18:01
A lot of people have pre-conceived notions
18:03
about what a condiment should or shouldn't be.
18:05
But you don't necessarily have to follow that dogma
18:08
or that nostalgia.
18:09
Condiments are all about individualizing
18:11
and adding your own flavors to food.
18:14
It's about customization.
18:16
So go outside your comfort zone.
18:18
Try new things.
18:20
And follow your gut.