How do you top your burger? When you order fries, what do you dip them into? What do you spread onto your turkey sandwich? Do you always keep a bottle of hot sauce in your purse in case of emergency? Condiments are a thing of surprisingly fierce devotion, and we asked you to vote for your favorites.
Condiments, by their very definition, exist to enhance the flavor of other foods. They’ve been used to increase the palatability of foods since ancient times, and the economies of entire Ancient Roman cities were fueled by the manufacture and export of garum, a condiment made with fermented fish. Fish sauce is still a popular condiment in Asia, and nearly every country has its own native condiments: Britain has its HP Sauce and Branston Pickle, aji (a spicy green salsa) is popular in Chile, chutneys are common in India, sambal (a chile and shrimp paste sauce) is king in Indonesia, and ajika (made with red peppers, garlic, and herbs) is a popular Georgian condiment.
In the United States, condiments run the full gamut of flavor profiles, from spicy to sweet and everywhere in between. In order to assemble our ranking, we assembled a survey with America’s 25 most popular condiments, from the usual suspects like ketchup and mustard to regional favorites like fry sauce and imports like piccalilli and gochujang. We asked respondents to vote for their five favorites — ones that they can’t live without, and have in their refrigerator at all times — and we also asked them to choose from more than 15 leading condiment brands and select the one that they trust the most.
More than 100 folks from across the country participated in the survey, and one condiment (as well as one brand) rose to the top of the heap. Condiments play a very important role in global cuisine, and they rarely get the respect they deserve. But there’s a reason why many restaurants keep them within arm’s reach of the diner and always have them on hand: Many foods just wouldn’t be the same without them. Read on to learn how your favorite condiment fared.