Engineering Professor Explains How To Get Ketchup Out Of A Glass Bottle

Heinz ketchup in glass bottles has been around for over 140 years, and for all of that time, aspiring condiment-eaters have been working hard to actually get the stuff out of the bottle. Fortunately for our fries, there are scientists who study this kind of thing, and have shared the best way to get ketchup out without splattering it or resorting to sticking a knife in the bottle.

Well, there’s at least one person who studies it: Anthony Stickland, who teaches in the School of Engineering at the University of Melbourne. Dr. Stickland studies rheology, or the motion of substances like condiments, paint, or sewage (that’s a terrible combination) that act like solids until a force is applied to them.

To help the general public understand how all this works, he distilled dispensing ketchup to a three-step process, which works like this:

1. SHAKE

Shake the bottle with the cap on. This will mix up the solid particles and liquid in the bottle, and will also get the sauce flowing.

2. TURN UPSIDE DOWN: OPTIONALLY, WHACK IT

Turning the bottle upside down harnesses gravity in your favor. If the bottle is running low, the ketchup may be at the bottom of the bottle. To get it out, you should bring the whole container upward, stopping abruptly, which is also known as whacking the bottle against your hand.

3. HOLD AT AN ANGLE AND POUR

Now you get to actually open the bottle, and hold it at an angle to get the ketchup pouring. Start by holding it at about a 45° angle to the thing you’re pouring it on. If it doesn’t pour, gradually decrease the angle.

This is similar to the method that you may have heard passed around by diners of old, which involves whacking the bottle on the number 57 molded onto its neck, and holding the bottle at a 45° angle. Who do you trust more: Urban legends, or engineers?

There’s also a video demonstrating the process, which mostly consists of tiny Australians eating barbecued meat with ketchup on it. It’s summer there, you know.

(via New York Times)