Word Of Mouth's Official Condiment Questionnaire

Jan 6, 2015

Credit Florian Schroiff via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/4LGNke

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who submitted answers to our questionnaire. We'll leave it up in case some of you haven't had a chance to submit. Here's a link to the answers we've received so far: Questionnaire Results.

Overview of Results: These don't include the results of our panel.

Ketchup: Heinz or Hunts?

No one--so far--likes Hunts ketchup. There's a strong showing for "other" which some people clarified by saying "store brand" or "anything without high fructose corn syrup". Some mentioned Trader Joe's brand, which I personally think tastes more like Hunts than Heinz.

Relish: Sweet or Dill

As a fervent dill relish supporter, I am appalled by the number of sweet relish lovers among you. There were also a large number of "other" entries in this category. "Corn", "sweet/spicy", "homemade green tomatoe [sic] relish", and "all relishes have their place at our table". My favorite was: "relish is gross".

Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip 

One lonely Miracle Whip supporter among you, but the prize goes to "other". Some of the reasons: "Ew", "either", and "none."

Hot Sauce: Pro or Con 

Most of our respondents were pro hot sauce, and when asked what their favorite brand was, there were five votes for Cholula, making it the winner. My favorite response was: "blahhhh". Doesn't sound very spicy.

Among the other responses, there were quite a few similarities. Most Exotic had a few interesting standouts: "Peach-amaretto jam", "vegemite", "raspberry mustard", "cameline sauce", and "I don't do exotic".

Unsung hero of the condiment world? "Tamarind paste", "Speculoos (Belgian cookie spread)", "maple mustard", "Za'atar", "Dijonnaise. I mean come on, a little mayo and a bit of dijon? It's perfection." "Plain yogurt", and the favorite answer of both Sara Plourde and myself: "I feel bad for mayo." It inspired an adorable illustration.

Credit Sara Plourde / NHPR

The one condiment you can’t live without? Ketchup was the winner with five. Soy sauce got a couple of shout outs and one person said: “None. I could do without.” That person also said they were not food adventurous.

What food requires a condiment? Burgers got three votes, hot dogs got six, one person felt that “everything requires a condiment”, and grilled cheese sandwich got a vote.

Our discussion with Tom Nealon about the potential dangers of a condiment monoculture got me thinking...are we in grave danger of being too singularly focused on one condiment?

I sent a questionnaire to some of our staff members to gauge their thoughts on condiments, and I've also supplied the same form for all of you to answer - scroll down to take the survey. The stats will get compiled and I'll update the post tomorrow.

You can also listen to Virginia's conversation with Tom below.

Members of the NHPR Condiment Panel:

Taylor Quimby | Producer | Word of Mouth

Rebecca Lavoie | Director | NHPR Digital

Sara Plourde | Producer & Designer | NHPR Digital

Maureen McMurray | Senior Producer | Word of Mouth

Fiona Shea | Intern | Word of Mouth

Virginia Prescott | Host | Word of Mouth

1. What is the one condiment you can’t live without?

Taylor Quimby | "I could live without either Tobasco, Frank's Red Hot Sauce, or Sriracha if I had access to the other two.  But if all three disappeared from the Earth, I would probably stop eating food."

Rebecca Lavoie | A1 Steak Sauce

Sara Plourde | "Cholula or peanut butter. True story: I keep a bottle of Cholula at the home of close friends I visit often; it’s my away-sauce."

Maureen McMurray | Dijon mustard

Fiona Shea | “Salt. And more salt.”

Virginia Prescott | Dijon mustard

Credit Jussi Mononen via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/63QbFX

2. Condiment you wish you always had in your fridge?

(Think of condiments you get at restaurants, but aren't readily available at the grocery store.)

TQ | "Dos Amigos restaurant has this carrot habanero sauce that has the perfect combination of flavor and spiciness. I’ve been wanting to ask for the recipe for ages."

RL | Ginger dipping sauce from Japanese steak houses

SP | "The cilantro-avocado sauce from Dos Amigos."

MM | Chimichurri

FS | Sauerkraut

VP |“I’ve made a Thai Basil, Cilantro Fish Sauce mix when the garden is popping that I wish I always had, but it’s best fresh and who keeps bunches of basil and cilantro around in winter?”

3. Unsung hero of the condiment world?

TQ | "Cranberry relish, which is pegged as a holiday condiment.  It ought to be celebrated year-round."

RL | Worcestershire Sauce

MM | Worcestershire Sauce

FS | Fox Mustard

VP |Pesto mayo. Never met a sandwich it didn’t improve. Ditto Branston’s Pickle.”

Credit This Year's Love via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/5ZBror

4. Oldest condiment currently in your fridge?

TQ | "I don’t want to talk about it."

RL | "Ugh…some nasty too-sweet apple butter."

SP | Rice vinegar

MM | "I purged after the Thanksgiving blackout."

FS | Ketchup

VP |Sweet Miso paste. Maybe circa 2007. It was a phase.”

5. Least favorite condiment?

TQ | Plain mustard

RL | "Yellow mustard. Also, Sriracha. I guess I don’t get it."

SP | Marmalade

MM | Sweet relish

FS | Ketchup

VP | “That supremely yellow mustard in squeezy bottles.”

6. Is there a particular food you think requires a condiment?

RL | “Hot dogs. Condiments hide the eyeball flavor.”

TQ | “Hot dogs, burgers, French fries… Just about anything you can get at a pub.”

SP | Toast

MM | “Pretty much any baseball meats: hot dog, burger”

FS | “Mac and Cheese. It requires pepper. And salt.”

VP |Latkes

Credit The Culinary Geek via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/8JCqCJ

7. If you eat hot dogs (meat or alterna-meat) what, in your opinion MUST go on top?

TQ | Ketchup and relish

RL | Ketchup, golden mustard, kraut, relish

SP | "I tend to go ketchup + diced onions for my everyday dog, though my favorite is chili, hot sauce, and blue cheese dressing (one of the fine creations of Spike’s Junkyard Dogs, Providence)"

MM | Ketchup

FS | “Mustard and sauerkraut should always go on top”.

VP | “Josh Rogers turned me on to Hoagie Spread. Gotta have it on a dog.”

8. Or...what should NEVER go on top?

RL | "Those nasty sweet onions they peddle in NYC."

FS | “Mustard by itself shouldn’t go on top.”

Credit LoadStone via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/8ELAE3

9. Relish: Sweet or Dill?

TQ | "Depends on my mood."

RL | "Depends on the situation – duh. Dogs – sweet. Burgers – dill."

SP | "Dill! I am strongly anti-sweet pickle."

MM | "Dill...no question."

FS | Dill

VP | “I know I should say dill, but sweet. My Mom used to make it.”

10. What is the most exotic condiment you've ever tried?

RL | "Something with squid ink. I blocked it out."

SP | "Does squid ink count?"

MM | Fermented bean curd

FS | “A chutney made from some unrecognizable fruit that grows in rural Guatemala. Pretty specific to that region.”

VP | “Does a raw egg on steak tartare count?”

11. Ketchup: Heinz or Hunts?

TQ | Heinz

RL | "Heinz. Saltier."

SP | Heinz

MM | Heinz

FS |Heinz

VP |Heinz

Credit Brian via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/7NsqJ7

12. Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip?

TQ | Mayo

RL | "If anyone in this office says Miracle Whip let me know who he is so I can immediately unfriend him on Facebook."

SP | Mayo

MM | Mayo

FS | Neither!!

VP |Organic Mayo

Credit Lee via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/jwySa

13. Are you pro or con hot sauce?

TQ | Guess

RL | PRO

SP | Pro

MM | Indifferent

FS |Pro

VP | “I kind of burned out on it a few years ago, but like any self-respecting American before the fall of the republic, enjoy…”

14. If you answered pro to the hot sauce question, which is your favorite?

TQ | "I can’t answer this question.  Too hard to decide."

RL | Cholula

SP | "Cholula. I am fervently anti-Frank’s."

FS | “I don’t know the name of it, but it came from the Bhutanese grocery … it’s amazing. And melt-your-face-off spicy.”

VP | Sriracha