The Bizarre Origins of the 5 Most Popular Condiments

We take these burger toppers for granted, but we shouldn’t

Mustard got its name from mustum ardens, an ancient Roman combination of grape must and ground mustard seeds.

When was the last time you gave any thought to a condiment? How often do you look at a bottle of ketchup and wonder how it came to be so popular? Not very often, most likely, but the fact of the matter is that these sauces are eaten all over the world, and many of them have global influences.

The Bizarre Origins of the 5 Most Popular Condiments (Slideshow)

Condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, salsa, and barbecue sauce are essential components of just about every well-stocked refrigerator. They’re so versatile that we put them on far more foods than we even realize, and no summertime cookout is complete without ketchup and mustard for topping burgers and hot dogs.

But every popular food got its start somewhere, and the history of condiments is in many cases more fascinating then the history of the dishes with which they’re paired. These spent years and years being perfected and working their way into the popular diet, and in some cases, dozens of brands and varieties popped up along the way.


So the next time someone tells you how boring mayonnaise is, or you wonder why New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp doesn’t resemble any barbecue you’ve ever seen, remember that these condiments all have a backstory that’s more far-out than most people realize.