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Mind Thoughts... with Michael Ian Black - Mustard Is the King of Condiments, and I Will Prove it, Dickhead

Put down that tomato period and pick up the condiment of the revolution.
April 10, 2012, 4:15pm

Try this, you little bitch.

You want to know what’s wrong with America? Ketchup. That gloppy sweet tomato paste is an awful concoction, the culinary equivalent of a skid mark in your panties. Ketchup is easy, lazy, banal—the Two and a Half Men of condiments. It is a spread for those who wish not to enhance the flavor of food, but to smother it to death with a Snuggie. When you pour that slop on your fries, burgers, and franks, when you smear it on your sandwiches or dip your fish sticks in that viscous sludge, you are giving George Washington the finger. Ketchup (and its mentally unbalanced sibling, catsup) is bad for America. And if you use it, you are bad too, dickhead.


Mustard, on the other hand, is a perfect expression of the American ideals of individualism, reinvention, and fortitude. It is the condiment of choice for those who forge their own path through life, those for whom dining is an adventure as vast and varied as the explorations of Lewis and Clark, two guys who actually brought mustard with them on their expedition to be used as a poultice. No ketchup for those fellows. Because when you are hundreds of miles from home with your life on the life, ketchup won’t cut the mustard.

As a condiment, mustard dates back to Roman times. Those fuckers conquered the world and ritualized orgies, but it was their decision to put mustard on their yum-yums that cemented their place in history. From there, mustard traveled with the Gauls before being spread atop foodstuffs all over the world. Today, mustard is popular on every continent on Earth and every planet in the galaxy. Its uses are as varied as the foods upon which it is lavished. You want your ham sandwich to punch you in the face with tangy, spicy deliciousness? Add mustard. You want your salad to knee you in the ‘nads and then suck you off? Add mustard. Maybe your barbecue sauce is acting like a whiny little bitch. Add mustard.

Ketchup’s modern popularity with Americans originates from the British, who took to it in the early 18th century, slathering it upon otherwise inedible British food. This was back when the only thing the English ate were sheep eyes, so ketchup was as much a tool for survival as a flavor enhancer. It need not be mentioned, of course, that this nation went to war with the Brits to gain its independence and that, therefore, when Americans squeeze those horrible packets of ketchup onto their burgers and fries, they are, in essence, once again enslaving themselves to the British monarchy.


Mustard bows to no man. It is democratic in its formulation, so varied in appearance and application that no single person can be said to lay claim to it. There is an “American mustard,” of course, a mustard whose shocking neon yellow is owed to the addition of turmeric. But Americans also eat brown mustard, beer mustard, Dijon mustard, honey mustard, and many, many others. Ketchup only has the one variety, unless you count the ludicrous addition of food colorings to the stuff, introduced by the Heinz company in nauseating shades of green, pink, purple, blue, and teal, and discontinued after the Mass Purple Ketchup Suicide of 2006, an event I have just made up, but which certainly seems plausible if you ever saw that shit on grocery store shelves.

America is in a morass. To get out of it, we need less sweet, more spicy. Less comfort, more adventure. Less status quo, more revolution. That’s why we need mustard, the condiment of choice for freedom-seekers, questioners of authority, and lovers of sex. It is both classic and postmodern, the perfect tonic for a nation that has grown too self-satisfied, too complacent, too flabby around the edges. Mustard will put hair on our sacks at a time when Americans are denuded and scared. It is the king of condiments like Elvis was the king of rock ‘n’ roll. Mustard is the cure for what ails us, just as Lewis and Clark knew when they first charted our course from sea to motherfucking shining sea.


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