A New Study Has Proven That Tomato Ketchup Is Literally Perfect

Anyone who has ever squirted something saucy on a particularly bland bit of food knows all about the power of the condiment. How many times have cheap hot dogs been saved by a dollop of mustard, or a sandwich been elevated by a smear of mayo? Even though all sauces can step up to save the day, there’s one that’s at the top of the heap: ketchup. So, what makes the tomato-flavored condiment more special than the rest? Scientists have discovered that there’s something in particular about ketchup that keeps us coming back time and time again. Our perception of taste is made up of five separate sensations: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and the elusive umami. While all sauces cater to one or more of these senses, only ketchup hits them all. It’s for this reason that scientists have named ketchup as the perfect food. Still, it’s the mysterious presence of umami that really makes ketchup so remarkable. Translated from Japanese, umami simply means “delicious.” It's that indescribable sensation that makes some foods irresistible. It's impossible to say what it tastes like, but you will know when it's there. So sought after is umami that some scientists have spent years creating and perfecting a controversial and well-known shortcut — MSG. Though many would never admit to keeping a sneaky jar of MSG in the kitchen cupboard, the hunt for umami is at the center of every great chef’s repertoire.