Friday, June 25, 2004

A saucy new dipping sauce billing itself as “America’s Ketchup” hopes to cash in on the Heinz-John Kerry connection.

“Choose Heinz and you’re supporting Teresa [Heinz Kerry] and her husband’s Gulfstream Jet, and liberal causes such as [Massachusetts Sen. John] Kerry for President,” reads the Web site for W Ketchup, which started selling June 14. “You don’t support Democrats. Why should your ketchup?”

W Ketchup focuses on themes of patriotism — its label combines an American flag, a bald eagle and a picture of George Washington. The ketchup company will give the larger amount of either 5 percent of profits or 1 percent of sales to the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund. It says it uses only American ingredients.

“We did it as a way for people to show their political stripes,” said W Ketchup Chairman Bill Zachary, a New York banker who describes himself as “a middle-of-the-road kind of guy.”

Mr. Zachary considers his brand to be nonpartisan. He said the “W” in the brand’s name stands for Washington — not the 43rd president.

The ketchup, not yet in stores, is made and bottled by “a major company” that Mr. Zachary would not disclose. The bottles sell for $3 each (minimum four bottles per order) on the Web site; about 5,000 have been sold.

Mr. Zachary thought of the concept with a handful of friends at an April barbecue. “Every time we squeezed that bottle, we were giving a little to Teresa Heinz Kerry,” he said.

But dipping fries or dousing burgers in Heinz ketchup contributes less than most might think to Mrs. Kerry, Heinz Co. spokesman Jack Kennedy said. Mrs. Kerry owns less than 4 percent of the company.

A March 22 statement on the Heinz Web site reiterated that neither Mrs. Kerry nor Mr. Kerry is involved in the company’s management.

Over the past seven years, the Heinz political action committee has contributed $96,000 to Republican candidates and $54,000 to Democratic ones, the statement said.

“We’re an equal-opportunity condiment,” Mr. Kennedy said.

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