Do Not Be Lured Into Target's 2 For $4 Heinz Ketchup Trap

Andrew writes in to let us know that he’s started to look more carefully at prices when shopping at Target… and so far it’s saved him $0.61 on ketchup…

I was in the grocery section of my local Super Target today and noticed the pricing for Heinz Ketchup. They had a 2 for $4 “deal” for the 32oz bottles (64 ozs total) which I almost just threw right into my cart until I saw the 64oz bottle for $3.39. The exact same quantity of ketchup, but one is $0.61 cheaper. Had I not been an avid reader of this site, I might have been suckered into the 2 for $4 deal without even looking at the prices. Thanks Consumerist! Every penny counts these days, and you just save me 61 of them!

If you spot any deals that aren’t really deals, snap a picture and send them to us at


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  1. geckospots says:

    I’m glad that my grocery stores generally have the prices broken down on the label into $/100ml or $/100g. Makes it easier to pick up on non-sales like the above.

  2. apotheosis says:

    Ah, but the 64oz bottle does not come with a bulleted feature list, while the 32oz bottles do.

  3. JustThatGuy3 says:

    It’s not a trap, if you feel that paying the add’l 61c is worth it to get a more manageable bottle of ketchup.

  4. jeffjohnvol says:

    Yeah, always look at the price per unit. Pace Picante sauce costs less if you get the medium glass jar over the large glass jar, which is perfect for me, cuz 2 of the medium jars match up with one bag of chips (at 2 sittings) :)

  5. ChrisC1234 says:

    But, this doesn’t change the fact that the 32oz ketchup IS on sale at a price different than their usual price. You still pay more per oz than the larger bottle, but that’s the norm with many products. I really don’t think this was intended to be a scam (however, I’m sure there are many other “buy x for $x.xx” deals that are intentionally misleading).

  6. Skipweasel says:

    It’s like that with Heinz ketchup here in the UK, too. It isn’t just a Heinz thing though, you can find examples everywhere. Tins of catfood, a six-pack is often less than half the cost of a dozen.

  7. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Target pricing is a little iffy. I noticed something similar when I was looking at paper plates. Buying two of the 50-count packages was cheaper than buying the 100-count package. One would think that bulk quantities would be cheaper, but not in the case I guess.

    On a related note, I was there this weekend and noticed they had sale tags on lots of items. I peaked under the shelf tags to see the original price.. No surprise, the sale price was the same as the original price.

  8. This is the biggest non-story I’ve read since I’ve been coming here.

  9. parad0x360 says:

    The WORST thing Target does is put something in their flier for higher then regular price, then you get to the store and you see a blue sign covering the price label. The sign says “lower then advertised” but in reality the price never changed.

    That just drives me crazy because its incredibly deceptive.

  10. B says:

    How long does ketchup last? I’m not sure I could use 64oz of ketchup before it went bad, but I’m sure the second, sealed 32oz bottle would stay fresh until it’s opened.

  11. bovinekid says:

    JustThatGuy3 is joking, but actually in this case I think he’s right. X for $y almost always means the same thing as x/2 for $y/2 dollars. In fact, I have never seen a promotion in a grocery store, Target included, where this was NOT true.

    For me, and I don’t think I’m alone in this, 64oz is a LOT of ketchup. More than I could use in a year. Probably more than I’d use in several years. Unless I’m making a recipe that calls for copious amounts of ketchup, I’d rather pay $2 for 32oz than $3.39 for 64oz.

  12. azzy says:

    Non-issue. the 32oz bottles were “easy-squeeze”. That’s the fancy upside-down bottles with a different top. They always cost more than the “traditional” bottles for whatever reason.

    Same product, different packaging, different cost. Just like with Soda.

  13. LordieLordie says:

    I’m sure you can find a supplier to sell you a 50 liter barrel of ketchup that will cost significantly less (per pound) then the 64oz package..
    Or if you buy the ketchup in the little individual packs, you’ll end up paying a lot more for 64 oz of ketchup..

  14. crabbyman6 says:

    @Ash78: Agreed.

    @B: Ketchup will last a looooonnngggg time if refrigerated.

    Tons of places do this exact thing with loads of different products. Just because something is marked sale doesn’t mean its your cheapest option just like making a price high profile doesn’t mean that its on sale. Given that these are two different products this isn’t a huge surprise. Kudos to OP for being a smart shopper though.

  15. steveliv says:

    My wife and i shop for groceries at Kroger, and all their prices, even the sale prices, list the price per ounce. It makes it very easy to see how much you save by buying the store brand or something that is on sale.

  16. To expand, some people want the smaller container. Usually it’s fridge space, or that they simply wouldn’t go through that much ketchup in a span of years.

    If we take this implication to its logical end, we’d all need 3 refrigerators and 2 deep freezes just to contain all the awesome deals we find in bulk! :D

  17. At least this “sale” makes some sense. I’m still confused over the 2-pack of Old Spice Red Zone body wash I spotted at Walmart some weeks back. Each bottle in the 2-pack was the same size as those sold individually – but buying two individual bottles came out nearly a dollar cheaper than buying the two pack.

  18. DashTheHand says:

    Its the same for Cottage Cheese at Giant for quite awhile. They have small containers (I think 16oz) at 2 for $4. Then right next to it they have a 32oz container for $3.29. I always assume that the extra cost is for the additional packaging, but don’t understand the people that wouldn’t just get the slightly larger container since the product itself lasts quite awhile.

  19. thesabre says:

    There are many legit reasons why the smaller bottles would be a more effective purchase. For example, if you have a son or daughter in college, it’s easier to buy two bottles and give them one than try to ration some of the 64oz ketchup for them. It’s also easier to have two smaller bottles if you are having a large family reunion, summer party. You can store one away in a pantry rather than keeping a 64 oz. bottle in your refrigerator.

  20. Scoobatz says:

    A fairly regular comment is someone’s suggestion to check the “cost/unit” price. I always try to do this. However, I’ve noticed that my local supermarkets are making this increasingly difficult to do. Different sizes of the same product do not only have the same base unit for comparison. One size will provide a price/ounce while another one will give a price/liter. Or, different brands of the same type of product use different base units, as well. I always run into this problem when buying baby formula, detergents, and (relatively) more expensive household items.

  21. ringo00 says:

    @jeffjohnvol: You, sir, have solved the mystery of the universe. How to make the dip match the chips.

  22. B says:

    @crabbyman6: According to the internet, an opened, refrigerated bottle of ketchup will last 6 months. An unopened one will last 12 months (from manufacture date).

  23. And remember, you don’t need to buy two items to get the two for $X pricing. Just buy however you want and get the price. There are exceptions, so check the signage, but most of the time, it works.

    I save money by only buying ketchup with no high fructose corn syrup. Smaller bottle, more expensive, we use less of it. Works for me.

  24. nsv says:

    Slow news day?

    @crabbyman6: I don’t care how long ketchup lasts in the fridge. The last time I bought it, green ketchup was going to be the “next big thing”. I bought the most expensive (per ounce) cheapest (per bottle) smallest bottle they had. It’s still in the fridge, not even half empty. For some folks, buying the largest, cheapest item doesn’t make sense.

    Lesson for today: consider unit pricing, then buy what you really need.

  25. strayxray says:

    @Ash78: I also agree.

    There are other things to consider than just price per oz. Nothing malicious was going on here. If you want a mega bottle, it is one price. If you want two (potentially) more manageable bottles for the same total volume, then it is a different price. I’m sure the price of the petroleum to make the second bottle is a significant cost of the total product.

  26. theczardictates says:

    Sounds like a lot of posters here don’t have small children… My 3 yr old could probably get through 64oz of ketchup at one sitting, spoon optional, if I let him. I buy the 32oz in the “squeeze” bottle rather than the 64oz in the traditional “pour” bottle to (a) allow him to squeeze his own and (b) limit the damage he can do at one time. For somebody like me, 2x32oz is a better deal than 1x64oz.

    BTW: At Giant at least, you still get the discounted price if you buy fewer than the advertised “X units for $Y” price.

  27. IrisMR says:

    Always check out the “discounts” when doing your grocery indeed! They’re usually just sale traps.

    PS: they often try to do that on toilet paper.

  28. nsv says:

    @Scoobatz: Keep a small calculator in the car. You should be able to find one at back-to-school sales for a buck. Run your own calculations.

    It gets tricky with things like laundry detergent. Some are concentrated, some aren’t, some are super-concentrated, some are ultra-concentrated, and whatever other stupid descriptions they can come up with. Most have a “number of loads” count on the bottle, and assuming you measure according to the manufacturer’s instructions, that’s the number you should use to figure unit pricing.

  29. snoop-blog says:

    I love ketchap, or is it ketchup, or is it catsup, whatever! They should make spoon shaped fries so my fantasy of eating ketchup out of a bowl with them could be complete.

  30. dangermike says:

    @B: answer: a LONG time. Easily several weeks, maybe even a few month unrefrigerated. Refrigerated, virtually indefinitely.

    I’m reminded of my first week with new roommates one year in college when I got the 2x64oz pack from costco. One of the roommates told me I was insane and that we’d NEVER use that much ketchup. Funny thing was, of the four of, I I think he managed to put 60% of it down. And then apologized and offered to buy the next pack. And that was in the 3rd week. (as it turns out, we did a lot of foreman grilling, and ketchup really helps deal with the horribly dry texture those things imbue into food, especially frozen then thawed foods)

  31. EndlessMike says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: This isn’t common. It’s an advertised price. Why they advertise it, I dunno, but they do. At Best Buy, they say “AS ADVERTISED!” not “ON SALE!”

  32. Grabraham says:

    When I was living out of a dorm sized fridge I paid more $$ for many items because I could not set aside space for it

  33. mthrndr says:

    @dangermike: the Foreman grill is the worst cooking tool ever invented. I’d rather use an iron.

  34. afrix says:

    @Ash78: yes, this is a non-story. Agreed. But some people don’t understand, and will have their eyes opened by this conversation.

    @JustThatGuy3: “if you feel that paying the add’l 61c is worth it to get a more manageable bottle of ketchup.” Exactly. It’s not just the stuff inside, but it’s the whole “experience” you’re paying for. I have little kids; they can’t manage a 64oz bottle of ketchup. I buy smaller. And in her later years, my mother couldn’t handle gallon jugs of milk.

    It’s not only about the price per ounce.

    @bovinekid: “but actually in this case I think he’s right. X for $y almost always means the same thing as x/2 for $y/2 dollars. In fact, I have never seen a promotion in a grocery store, Target included, where this was NOT true.”

    Walgreens. You’ll see all SORTS of things on their shelves where what you say isn’t true. In fact, I think it’s ALWAYS true at Walgreens that when they’re having a twofer sale on something, one is much more than half the twofer price. $2.99 each, or two/$5. Very common. But the “$2.99 each” price is in small print, while the “2/$5″ is in very large print.

    They’re taking advantage of people who think that if it’s 2/$5, it must be $2.50 for one. But they do document what one costs by itself, no matter how small the print is, so they’re off the hook here.

  35. ilovemom says:

    As with most high fructose corn syrup based products the container probably costs more than the product inside. Maybe you can see if Target will pour it in your hand for a dime. Just make sure to pay with a hundred.

  36. afrix says:

    @steveliv: “My wife and i shop for groceries at Kroger, and all their prices, even the sale prices, list the price per ounce.”

    Huh. Not the Kroger stores around here. For example: last time I looked, it was at marshmallows. Kraft brand was listed on the shelf with a per ounce price, while the Kroger brand was listed at a PER POUND price. Same size bags, plain white regular marshmallows.

    They do their best to screw with you. And kids in school wonder why math is so important. It’s because IGNORANCE of math is VERY expensive.

  37. booticon says:


  38. bohemian says:

    Most cell phones have a calculator. I figure the per unit cost for just about everything if there is a sale or the first time we buy that item.

    Nexus shampoo is half the price per ounce if you buy the big jug at Target. I see the backwards “sales” there all the time though, it pays to do the math.

  39. Ben Popken says:

    @Ash78: Luckily for the fate of humanity, non-refrigerated catsup doesn’t spoil. Some goes in fridge, some goes in pantry…

  40. tundey says:

    Sometimes buying the bigger cheaper bottle costs more in the long run. Especially when you don’t use up all the 64oz ketchup and it goes bad. For 61 cents extra, I would rather have 2 32oz bottles.

  41. raisitup says:

    @ilovemom: I’ve never spit up on my keyboard….until this post. :-)

  42. JPinCLE says:

    Surely there are worse issues out there today! I will say it highlights the importance of the per-unit price, but I can think of more than a handful of reasons I’d go 2 for $4 vs. 1 for $3.69, same ounces.

    1 – Fridge space. I had a 64 ounce bottle in the fridge for about a year – maybe 18 months – that pissed me off every time I was trying to make space. Toward the end of the container’s life, it just became a joke – not worth transplating $0.49 in ketchup to a small gladware container. There are more nooks and crannies where I can fit a 32oz container in my fridge, and as Ben stated, one can go in the pantry.

    2 – Ease of use. It takes two hands to work a 64oz bottle, and only one to work a 32oz bottle. What if you want to add ketchup to something that is in your hand, say a hot dog, and you prefer not to dirty a plate? You can open the refrigerator, pull out a 32 ouncer, shake it, open it, squeeze it out, set it down, close it, and close the fridge – ALL WITH ONE HAND. Advantage, 32oz Ketchup.

    3 – Packaging. For those of us who hate the environment, I prefer to use as much packaging as possible. If they made 1oz glass bottles available at the store (I’ve received them at a few restaurants in my life – love’em), I would buy them exclusively. Even if the total 64oz price soared north of $10, it would be well worth it to me.

  43. categorically says:

    @Ben Popken: Which is why the 2 32oz is a better deal. Rather than putting it all in the fridge one can store half until it is needed.

  44. nsv says:


    3 – Packaging. For those of us who hate the environment, I prefer to use as much packaging as possible.

    Whatever you choose to do, do it with a passion.

  45. SacraBos says:

    @JustThatGuy3: That’s true. I can get ketchup at Sam’s for $0.03/oz if I buy it in a 55gal drum. Doesn’t fit in the pantry very well. And I’m afraid one of my kids could drown in it trying to dip their fries once it’s about half empty. Of course, they probably would have graduated college by then…

    @afrix: Sometimes it’s okay. At Kroger they occasionally sell 10 2-liter Cokes for $10. They also let you buy 5 for $5, so you don’t actually have to buy 10 to get a deal.

    I’m just glad they got rid of the 3-liter bottles. I never drank it fast enough, so that last liter was always flat. Another case where a bigger quantity isn’t better quality.

  46. MonkeyMonk says:

    I don’t see why this is a story. Isn’t is kinda expected that stores will charge more for two smaller portions than a single, larger value size? It’s much more insidious when stores charge more for the value size than if you buy multiples of the smaller portions.

    Personally, at the rate I go through ketchup I’d probably go for the 2 for $4 deal. Nothing worse than old ketchup with an inch of crusty schmutz in the bottle neck.

  47. grandzu says:

    Either way its 32 or 64oz of high fructose corn syrup. Yum.

  48. Stormslanding says:

    Its all on convenience. I enjoy the smaller size ones for camping So I would have purchased the smaller versions and saved some money. Kinda silly to bag on something like this. It obvious that the 64 oz suits you just fine.

  49. LJKelley says:

    Walmart did this exact same thing with Twizzlers a while back. I bought the bigger bag, and besides its zips back up to keep fresh so there would never be a point to get 2 or 1 of the smaller sized bags.

  50. tellervision says:

    I have to disagree. I think George does a great job on fish and chicken breasts. Cooks evenly and makes food very juicy.

  51. sprocket79 says:

    Target is famous for this. I spotted the same thing with trash bags a few months ago. It was 2 for $11 for some smaller count box, while the larger count box was $9-ish.

  52. KatieKate93 says:

    I’d say, blame John Kerry . . .

    But seriously, I rarely use ketchup and keep it mainly for guests. I’d probably buy the smallest bottle possible to avoid staring at the thing every time I open the fridge for the next five years.

    But that’s the trade off – a monolithic bottle stealing valuable door space better used by something else, or $0.61 extra in your pockets. The important part is to be aware. I’m certainly not embarrassed about doing math in store aisles.

  53. Speak says:

    @afrix: It drives me crazy when stores do that. I should have taken a picture of the candy/breath mints being sold at the counter of some store I went to once … it came out to something like thousands of dollars per some inappropriate unit of measurement.

  54. Angryrider says:

    Bah. I don’t shop at Target, and can only go to smaller supermarkets. I’m usually buying Heinz at that price anyway, considering the 64oz is about $5 here.

  55. ekthesy says:


    I’d say, blame John Kerry…

    Blame his wife, she’s the one that did it.

    So someone comes over to your house, do you say “Good to have you over! Can I take your coat? Would you like a drink? Some ketchup?”

  56. timsgm1418 says:

    Target is notorious for that. I always check the prices on similar items because generally, at Target, buying the bigger size does not save money

  57. rellog says:

    @timsgm1418: I think almost ALL stores do this. But I’m already POed at Target for last week’s soda/ice cream deal. They offered free icecream with the purchase of 3 12 packs… but they had almost no ice cream to begin with and never restocked (according to my 4 trips to the the local store and the CSR that I talked to about it) Even if they advertise “quanities limited”, they need to bring in proper amounts to satisfy demand for a front page ad IMO… so I’ll just on the band wagon. Booooooo Target!

  58. camman68 says:

    @steveliv: I try to check the price per unit at Dillons (also part of Kroger). The problem is that my local stores make it very difficult to compare prices. Some sausage is $0.182/ounce but other packages are $2.75/pound. If I’m going to have to figure it out myself anyway, why even list the price per unit?

    Maybe Kroger could look at some type of standardization? Of course, this would help the consumer and possibly cost the store so it’s understandable why they do it this way.

  59. DanGarion says:

    Aha! But you could also just get those little packs from the local fast food place and get all your ketchup for FREEEEEE! Talk about really saving money then.

  60. asten77 says:


    I don’t see how that’s deceptive. They only claim that it’s lower than advertised, which it is.

    If they DON’T put a sign up, people get upset because 1) there’s no sale sign on something they saw in the ad, and 2) they don’t understand that the scenario even exists in the first place.

  61. iamlost26 says:

    I’ve never done this before, but this really isn’t new. It’s like buying soda pop, 2 Liter bottles are ALWAYS cheaper than buying cans (using per unit pricing), but I only buy cans because the servings are manageable and it stays fresher longer. Even if cans are on sale and bottles aren’t, cans will still cost more.

    The only thing this doesn’t apparently apply to is tuna fish cans, since I always see that the bigger cans cost less than the smaller ones.

  62. In the time I spent reading this at my desk, I earned more than 61 cents.

  63. krunk4ever says:


    So first when larger items cost more per unit, Consumerist claimed people typically buy larger items and made a big deal out of it. Now, the larger item is actually cheaper than the smaller items per unit, and once again Consumerist is making a big deal out of it.

    When would you actually be satisfy? Only when the cost/unit of the large and small are the same? I have hunch you’ll just end up saying they shouldn’t even display the larger item.

  64. furseekr says:

    @edicius: The lower price for buying the 2-pack is to get you to buy it over a single. You end up saving a dollar, and the store gets more dollars from you in a single shopping trip. Everybody wins. Yes, you might have purchased your next body wash at the same store and they would have gotten the dollar, but you might also have bought it elsewhere and the store would have lost that sale. They’re happy with as much of your money as possible as fast as possible.

  65. rellog says:

    @krunk4ever: When items are on SALE, they are usually considered the “best” deal by most. In this case, you’re getting jipped by buying the 2-4-1. Add to that, the over all amount is the same and you see why this is a big deal… (well maybe you don’t, but most others do…)

    What kills me is when my friends/family talk about how great Sam’s is… “You buy in bulk and it’s cheaper…” They don’t bother checking that you can get a better deal at a normal store on sale. I’ve given up trying to tell them, and simply point out how they are wrong when they talk about the GREAT deal they got at Sam’s…

  66. ian937262 says:

    Yeah if I were in the store and you pointed this out to me I’d maybe be interested. This is just common sense and wise shopping.
    Slow news day. Sites need to learn sometimes no news is good news!

  67. yevarechecha says:

    A few months ago, I went to purchase laundry detergent at Cub Foods. One bottle claimed to contain enough liquid for 24 loads; the bottle next to it was about 40 cents more and claimed to have enough for 32 loads. I’m kind of a laundry freak so I went to get the 32-load bottle.

    Until I read the labels closely and noticed that they contained the EXACT same number of fluid ounces of detergent. How can the same amount of liquid cover 24 loads in one bottle and 32 in another? This was back in April and I’m still confused.

    By the way, I went for the 24-load bottle. It lasted 30 loads.

  68. Robert_SF says:

    This reminds me of a phrase I heard in one of Eliyahu Goldratt’s books: price per usable unit. It was brought up about the case of raw material or packaging/labeling and how purchasing departments were buying up huge quantities of labeling/materials to get the lowest cost/unit, although the marketing group would always make changes often enough to invalidate all the paid for in-stock material. Sure the cost accounting/statistics for efficiency looked good for the purchasing dept, but the budget took a hit almost every time for the actual group paying for the materials!

    Some may merely do the math on purchases and buy the lowest cost per unit, give some common sense on the size of the package (buying the largest package of steaks, not a cow).

    Others look at the amount of actual material they will use/consume in the product’s lifespan and purchase the best deal based on that, which is sometimes a lower priced purchase but on a higher cost/unit basis. Yet, when you factor in how much will be used, it’s a lower cost of investment or outlay overall. Like the example above about green ketchup still in the fridge a loooooong time later.

    I like Safeway here in the SF Bay Area in that they post the cost/unit on the regular price stickers, although not always on the sale price stickers.

    Oh and yes, you can “split” up the X for $Y and buy less than X units and pay the corresponding price ratio. But, they won’t cut a deal of say, 50% when it’s a buy-one-get-one-free if you only buy one. That’s a different deal type.

  69. stephennmcdonald says:

    @ash78 : Amen. This story is just retarded. I rarely comment, and this one was so bad, I signed in just to say that.

  70. AltTab says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: What that is is a “As Advertised” sign. They look like their “Sale through Saturday” signs. So, no. They aren’t misleading you, you probably didn’t read the sign properly.

  71. dcndn says:

    I love consumerist, but this one’s reaching into Hints from Heloise territory (“Sometimes when I have problems keeping may papers together, I use a clip to hold them in one place!). Maybe the medium size had better ketchup? As in, salmonella free?

  72. thylacine222 says:

    Yeah, Target has some weird prices. Once, I noticed that it was actually cheaper to buy 12 separate string cheeses than to buy the pack of 12.

  73. thesabre says:

    @rellog: “When items are on SALE, they are usually considered the “best” deal by most.”

    People who think sale means “best deal” versus items in different sizes are idiots. If 20 ounce bottles of soda are on sale at something like 2 for $2.00, that doesn’t mean that soda should be (or si implied to be) a better deal than 12 packs, 2 liters, etc. It simply means that it is cheaper than the normal price of that same, exact item.

    In this case, a 64oz bottle of ketchup is still a better deal, but that doesn’t mean Target is being misleading by marking down 32 ounce bottles to a lower price than what they normally cost and calling it a “sale”. That’s exactly what it is.

  74. Robobot says:

    Target is potentially a great place to shop if you just read prices carefully. I probably saved at least $15 on my last trip by scrutinizing the tags. That’s not an exaggeration! Sometimes the same product would be cheaper on one shelf than it would be on the shelf below/next to it. Other times the same product would be scattered throughout the grocery aisles with different prices attached. In the instance of generic brand microwave oatmeal different flavors had different prices attached.