Monday, February 18, 2013

Pass the ketchup

I confess that my love for Heinz ketchup goes back to my early childhood.   The great ketchup maker’s headquarters is in Pittsburgh. Just like some of my best friends grew up with grits, I grew up with Heinz ketchup. I never know there was any other brand, only Heinz. We put it on everything from French fries to hotdogs to meatloaf to scrambled eggs. Everything seemed to taste better with it.

I was surprised, as were many in Pittsburgh, to learn that Warren Buffett is now in the ketchup business.   A Pittsburgh investing firm sold a ton of stock to an investment consortium headed by Warren Buffet. I can't even begin to understand all the nuances of what that all means in terms of economics. I just hope no one messes with the ketchup recipe.

Every child in the city of Pittsburgh remembers their school’s field trip to the Heinz factory, where we were given all kinds of free souvenir gifts to take home. We also had an annual school trip to the Clark candy factory. Needless to say, we loved the free Clark candy bars, which we devoured on the bus ride back to school.

To be honest, I’m not really sure why we made those field trips and what educational value we gained from the experience. For me, it wasn’t so much about how they made ketchup or used technology to mechanically wrap candy bars, but about a sense of community. I was from Pittsburgh, and we made the best ketchup in the world. We believed all of America said, “I want a Clark bar.” I didn’t own stock in either company, but I felt like I was a part them because they were a part of Pittsburgh. We belonged to each other.

I wonder what field trips you had when you were in school. Do you remember any of them? I’m sure schools still take children on field trips still today, but I don’t know exactly where. Do you think children today have a sense of pride and of belonging to a community; of something bigger than just their own school or themselves? 

We all yearn for a sense of belonging. We want to be a part of a community. I think God made us to live in community; in fact, I am sure of it. Every time we receive a new member class, I say to them what each new class hears: “and God has called us together into the family of faith, which is called the church.”

Thanks for being a part of the family. Thanks for doing all you do to give everyone a sense of belonging. That’s part of the recipe for a true church, a community where everyone is connected. This Lenten season, be sure to show every child, youth, and adult that they belong here with us. Remember to smile, say hello, and take time to welcome everyone to Christ’s church. 

Oh, and pass the ketchup, please!


  1. I love community, and ketchup does make everything better!

  2. As a child growing up on the east side of Indianapolis, I attended neighborhood schools and a large Presbyterian church that served our community. I felt safe and secure and surrounded by the love and care of "family" that stretched way beyond the walls of my own home. The east side is now an area of the city with many challenges. My grade school is an abandoned, graffiti-covered ruin and my high school has been taken over by a turnaround company. My church was sold and relocated to a small building in the suburbs. It saddens me to see what's become of the community we were so proud of, but I remember well my field trips to the Wonder Bread factory and Naval Avionics facility, an interesting choice for young children. White bread and twinkies were a natural for kids, but we must not have seen much in the high security Navy defense compound.

  3. The school field trip I best remember was to the Sunbeam Bread Bakery. Tons of flour, yeast, milk. Mixing bowls big enough for a youngster to hide in standing upright. Loaf pans by the hundreds. Huge ovens and racks of bread. The smell was grandmother's kitchen, only you could begin to inhale the aroma about half a mile before the bus stopped in the parking lot. I, too, have no idea what the intended educational value was, but the memory is forever!

  4. My Uncle Jim put Heinz ketchup on absolutely everything. It was embarrassing to my grandfather when Uncle Jim would be at a very fine restaurant, order a steak and tell them to bring the ketchup! The waiters would be stunned. It didn't faze him--he could pay for a nice steak and he wanted his ketchup with it. We kids loved it! Later my mom found little mini Heinz ketchup bottles in a catalog. He told her it was the best present he ever got!