Ed Sheeran writes hit love songs that may or may not be about Heinz ketchup.
The English pop star professes his love for the iconic condiment through social media, interviews and even on his skin (he’s got the logo tattooed on his arm), so we’re guessing at least a few of his romantic odes are secretly directed at our city’s famous sauce.
And it’s had an impact: One-third of all @HEINZ Instagram posts since 2014 include people mentioning or tagging Ed. The singer publicly made contact with Heinz in April and together they released a special edition of the stuff on June 5, National Ketchup Day.
Heinz Tomato Edchup, complete with a cheeky ad campaign and Sheeran-inspired emoji on the label, is already sold out.
As a lifelong Pittsburgher, all this enthusiasm for Edchup surprises me. (Is there some parallel product for sale in London … Rick Sebak Fish and Chips, perhaps?)
We’ve known that the British — especially British musicians — have had a thing for Heinz products ever since The Who’s Roger Daltrey swam in a bathtub of Heinz Baked Beans way back in 1967.
But ketchup is a hot topic of conversation in this town, even when it doesn’t include Grammy-winning artists.
We’re very protective of “our” ketchup, which Henry John Heinz invented here in the late 1800s.
A decade ago, when Heinz made a seemingly minor adjustment to its classic label — replacing the pickle symbol with a tomato — yinzers saw red, n’at. I guess we still hadn’t recovered from the company’s decision to briefly sell technicolor versions of the tangy topping, including green, blue, purple and teal.
The Steel City’s color palette is black, yellow and ketchup red. (Well, also gray, because it’s usually overcast.)
Mayochup — a combination of mayonnaise and ketchup — clearly ruffled some Terrible Towels, because Heinz felt the need to put a “Nah, I’ll Make My Own” section in the online product description. And don’t even get me started on Kranch.
People got mad as Monongahela Monsters when Kennywood switched to Hunt’s ketchup this season. Even Laffing Sal didn’t find it funny.
To quell that Raging Rapids-caliber flood of vitriol, Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster took it upon himself to go to the amusement park and pass out Heinz ketchup.
An online petition to bring the brand back to West Mifflin has more than 8,500 signatures. I signed on, because I can’t imagine drowning my Potato Patch fries in anything other than Heinz. I intend to talk with Kennywood management … right after I swap yarns about ketchup with Cowboy Joe.
So what I’d really like to know is this: While this sold-out product tells me that Pittsburgh appreciates Ed Sheeran’s outsized love for Heinz ketchup, isn’t it time that the face of our local condiment be homegrown?
I’m definitely down with Fred-chup, in honor of our beloved Mr. Rogers, or maybe some Stargell-chup to add to your next plate of chicken (on the Hill)? Where are Pittsburgh Dad and Brett Keisel (with or without the beard) when we need them?
Maybe Heinz Ward … I mean Hines Ward … is getting ready for his own ketchup-themed close-up?
We’re betting you’ve got some suggestions of your own. Leave them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.