In search of the origin of a breakfast quirk
August 8, 2017 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Growing up, I've always put ketchup on my eggs & omelettes. Is this just some habit unique to my family or are their wider cultural origins?

My good friend and I regularly get breakfast together every other weekend. We agree on a lot of things, but one thing we definitely disagree on is putting ketchup on eggs. I've done it ever since I was a kid. He doesn't get it at all. My writer instincts kicked in and I thought, "There might be something here." Emphasis on might. I decided to see if this disagreement is bigger than just us.

Full disclosure: I'm writing an essay for this to pitch to Extra Crispy based off of this.

Hopefully, this doesn't come across as a 'do my homework for me' question. I've done some research, which involved a lot searching "ketchup" + "eggs" into Google Search and with a lot of Buzzfeed quizzes in the results. I've also done some light interviewing of family and friends. So far, I've come up with two potential leads:

1) My father who introduced the practice to me, got it from his father. My paternal grandfather is mostly, if not completely, Irish (as much as that can be discerned). This leads me to think this might be an Irish/Irish-American thing.
2) One friend suggested that this might be a New England/Northeastern U.S. thing.

So AskMetafilter: Do you put ketchup on your eggs? Where did you pick the idea up? And long shot, anybody in the audience know the origins of this?

Here's the thing, there might not be a 'real' answer to the last question. They might be lost to the winds of time. In fact, the first draft of my essay ends up discussing some contemporary U.S. thoughts about the application of ketchup on various foods. But, it doesn't hurt to ask anyway, if only to entertain my own curiosity.

posted by queeroid to Food & Drink (86 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My daughters and I always put ketchup on our eggs. Plus Tabasco. Mmmm.
posted by gryphonlover at 7:04 AM on August 8, 2017

My husband and his family put ketchup on their eggs. No Irish ancestry (Russian/Welsh/French Canadian) but they are from northern New Hampshire.

I find it bizarre and rather disgusting, but hey. Better than our daughter, who likes to to eat ketchup straight with a spoon.
posted by lydhre at 7:05 AM on August 8, 2017

It might be a regional thing. I grew up on the east coast, and on my first business trip to California, I confused the heck out of the hotel staff by asking for ketchup to go on my eggs.
posted by okayokayigive at 7:06 AM on August 8, 2017

SoCal resident weighing in. It's pretty common here, and the few people I can think of off the top of my head who do this are native Angelenos. Maybe there's a salsa connection?
posted by Room 641-A at 7:07 AM on August 8, 2017

Yes. From my dad's side at least dating back to paternal grandfather in the 50s if not earlier. Italians in the Chicago area. Midwesterners aren't exactly known for sophisticated palates.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:08 AM on August 8, 2017

Born and raised in New England. I don't usually ketchup my eggs, but I know some people who do. I do like ketchup on a fried egg sandwich, though I distinctly remember being slightly grossed out as a kid when a friend first introduced me to that practice. Can't speak for the history or regionality of this, though.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:08 AM on August 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm in the Midwest, and at diners I'm offered ketchup if I order anything with potatoes/eggs, if it's not already at the table. (Not my thing, personally)
posted by Fig at 7:09 AM on August 8, 2017

Could this come from diner culture? There's always ketchup on the table at diners, diners always serve eggs, diners seem more prevalent in certain areas.
posted by kapers at 7:10 AM on August 8, 2017 [11 favorites]

I'm in the Canadian prairies and know lots of people who put ketchup on their eggs.
posted by Amy NM at 7:10 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

NH raised-- I'd do this at diners if it's right there, but not at home, nor would I request ketchup for eggs if it wasn't already there.
posted by kapers at 7:11 AM on August 8, 2017

Born and bred in New England (Western Mass), and my mother's heritage is British.

Since we were kids we put ketchup on our eggs (as God intended it!).
posted by Hanuman1960 at 7:11 AM on August 8, 2017

Want to hear something really freaky-deaky?

I was shocked to see my friend's mom put ketchup on her FRENCH TOAST (clutches pearls).

There were only 2 ways we enjoyed French Toast:

1. Syrup
2. A sprinkle (1-2 tsp) of sugar and 1-2 tsp of lemon juice

(Location: Southern Ontario)
posted by Dressed to Kill at 7:11 AM on August 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

I put ketchup on scrambled eggs (but never on fried) as a kid. I grew up in Fairfield County, CT and got the practice from my mother who is of Italian-American extraction.

I don't do it anymore but am not entirely sure why or when I stopped and am actually kind of having a proustian moment here.
posted by gauche at 7:12 AM on August 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Considering the Anglo-Irish "full breakfast" love of a grilled tomato and baked beans with eggs (plus sausage, bacon, & mushrooms) it wouldn't surprise me if immigrants started putting ketchup on eggs as a stand-in for fresh grilled tomatoes & baked beans. I know many Brits who think any meal is incomplete without some kind of sauce - ketchup, brown, gravy, etc. I imagine other nationalities also would have fresh tomato (or sauces made with tomato) on their eggs, making ketchup an easy & inexpensive choice to put on plain eggs.

Mum from London, Dad from New York City, grew up in NH - brother puts ketchup on his eggs (and most other things), I lean toward hot sauce, steak sauce, and the like.
posted by pammeke at 7:12 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Scrambled or omelette: Totally normal.
Any other form of egg: People will be embarrassed to be seen with you.
posted by rodlymight at 7:14 AM on August 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

I've lived in OH and CA and TX and PA and IL and I feel like I've never been more than a stone's throw from people putting ketchup on eggs.

I don't do it, but it's always been around in my experience. Forget origins, it is literally all over the country at present, with no discernible epicenter to my eye. Now I favor Cholula on eggs.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:15 AM on August 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Mostly Germanic ancestry here, mostly raised in New England. Ketchup on scrambled eggs is an occasional thing for us; no other style of egg, and even on scrambled not very often. We do however regularly use ketchup on our hashbrowns and/or scrapple.
posted by easily confused at 7:16 AM on August 8, 2017

We put ketchup on scrambled eggs and omelettes. Irish-American/Italian-American roots, NYC outer boroughs.
posted by trixie119 at 7:17 AM on August 8, 2017

New England, no Irish ancestry (Polish, Swedish, German, English): I grew up putting ketchup on all except hard boiled eggs. I stopped doing it recently and thought it was because I finally have a sophisticated palate, etc., but realized when I visited my parents that their supermarket eggs taste like . . . not much. Ketchup was required. At home I pay extra for local farm eggs and they taste gloriously like eggs.
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:19 AM on August 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

I learned to put salsa on my scrambled eggs when I lived in California. I swapped in ketchup on and off when I moved away. In general, I put ketchup on industrial/cafeteria/hotel buffet scrambled eggs/omlets (there's something about the taste?), but not individually made eggs/omlets.

Also as a note scrambled eggs with tomatoes is totally a Chinese thing as well ...
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:22 AM on August 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

I put ketchup on scrambled eggs only. I also add some hot sauce but never did as a child. Never ever on fried or omelettes nor on potatoes if those are served w/the eggs. My family all did this growing up but I can't think of anyone I know now who adds ketchup to eggs. Midwestern, grandparents from Scotland.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 7:23 AM on August 8, 2017

Montreal/Toronto anglophone/francophone parents, Scottish/German and French/German: no ketchup on omelettes, scrambled (*Jacques Pepin faints at the thought*) or fried eggs eaten out in the open. BUT fried eggs made into a sandwich MUST use a bit of ketchup.

(I recognize that ketchup can be tasty with eggs, obviously, but it still offends me in most cases. And somewhere out there, someone is eating hardboiled eggs with ketchup. I may need to lie down.)
posted by maudlin at 7:23 AM on August 8, 2017

I put ketchup on my eggs and I'm in the UK (also hot sauce, also mayonnaise by default on any kind of savoury breakfast, which gets me some weird looks in work). I do have Irish ancestry but it was the non-Irish side of the family that first introduced me to the practice. I found eggs extremely gross as a child (and still can't eat boiled ones or the whites of fried ones) and putting ketchup on scrambled eggs/omelettes was one way I managed to get them into me without getting super grossed out.
posted by terretu at 7:25 AM on August 8, 2017

In our family, it is a bit of a running joke that our unnatural love of ketchup on all sorts of foods (definitely including eggs) comes from my mother's side of the family, which is French Canadian-English, not my father's all-Irish side. However we do all come from New England, so there is that.
posted by briank at 7:25 AM on August 8, 2017

I'm a life-long New Englander, and I don't personally put ketchup on my eggs, but they always ask if we want it at diners, etc. I don't think of it as unusual, just gross ;)
posted by jozxyqk at 7:26 AM on August 8, 2017

Ketchup on scrambled eggs is normal, though not my thing. I do eat it on egg sandwiches if they are the kind I get from a cart on the street, but not if they are the kind I make at home or get at a fancy brunch place. Never on omelets or fried/poached/boiled/etc eggs. Born and raised in Maine, live in PA now (and the breakfast cart guys always offer the ketchup, so I assume it's relatively normal here).
posted by dizziest at 7:31 AM on August 8, 2017

My brother puts ketchup on his eggs; I do not (yuck! ketchup on hashbrowns is required, though). We're New Englanders and we are not Irish, Germanic, or Italian. My husband, from California, also likes ketchup on his eggs. I've always thought of it as a thing some people do, not unusual at all and not limited to New England because I know people from all over who do it. Something like whether you like milk in your coffee or not. I also know people who like hot sauce on their eggs and that seems similar.
posted by john_snow at 7:31 AM on August 8, 2017

I (Italian-Irish, New England family for a few generations) think it's a normal thing and eat my eggs that way sometimes, and have likewise been called out on it all the time by people who think that salt and pepper, or mayyybe hot sauce, are the only acceptable egg toppings.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:35 AM on August 8, 2017

I'm born and raised in New Orleans, with European ancestry, and I grew up putting ketchup on scrambled eggs (and any combination of the hot sauces and seasonings -- Tony Chachere's and Tabasco goes on or in everything).

I also know people who put ketchup in red beans and rice, and my mother swears by putting some ketchup in her gumbo.

I swear by putting ketchup *and* Blue Plate mayonnaise on my scrambled eggs.

Ketchup on fried eggs? Newp. Black pepper and hot sauce, or za'atar. But eggs that aren't fully scrambled but have the yolks roiled up in the pan? Hot sauce.
posted by the matching mole at 7:35 AM on August 8, 2017

I grew up in Illinois putting ketchup on scrambled eggs, but not fried (omelets did not exist for us). Mom was from small-town Illinois (Lithuanian ancestry), Dad from rural Kentucky (Irish/Scottish). I associate it more with my dad, but I don't know why. My in-laws were horrified (German ancestry, from Illinois). However, they grew up eating ketchup sandwiches during the Depression.
posted by FencingGal at 7:35 AM on August 8, 2017

I'm a life-long New Englander, and I don't personally put ketchup on my eggs, but they always ask if we want it at diners, etc.
I came here to say exactly this. Ketchup is pretty ubiquitous at breakfast restaurants in New England, though not necessarily egg-specific; people also put it on hashbrowns/home fries. It's never been a thing on either side of my mostly Anglo family that's been in North America for hundreds of years.

I lived in Los Angeles for a while and I don't remember whether ketchup was particularly a thing at breakfast joints (I never use it so never really paid attention,) but I do remember hot sauce (Tabasco or otherwise) being nearly universal.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 7:35 AM on August 8, 2017

Here's a tomatoes and eggs recipe from the 18th century. This North African shakshouka dish looks pretty good too.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:40 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I took a glance at vintage ketchup ads on ebay and found this one, where a woman says she's serving corned beef hash and poached eggs with a new bottle of Heinz ketchup (both of those sound gross with ketchup to me). I got 277 hits on vintage ketchup advertisements. You might find something if you go through them.
posted by FencingGal at 7:42 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm thinking it's not a regional or cultural thing, at least not in the US. You either put ketchup on your eggs or you don't, or sometimes you do and sometimes you don't, and it's not weird whatever you choose. Maybe some people think ketchup qua ketchup is childish or déclassé? I don't know.

It's worth noting that the Japanese Western dish omuraisu, an omelette filled with fried rice, is incomplete without a liberal blast of ketchup on top.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:45 AM on August 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Even omuraisu (Japanese rice omelette) is divided into Team Ketchup/Tomato Sauce and Team Gravy/Demi-glace.

I don't think you'll find any culture that is Always Ketchup, just pretty much every culture that eats eggs in some kind of scrambled form will have ketchup and non-ketchup eaters (and yeah, as noted above: shakshouka, which is generally not so sweet but certainly tomatoey, either traveled widely or independently came into existence repeatedly in warm climates where tomatoes and peppers grow).

And then there's the smaller subset of breakfast-pancake cultures who allow syrup to touch their eggs vs those who don't.

It is a flavor profile that scratches a sweet-umami itch, for sure. I do not reach for ketchup on purpose, and rarely even want it on my potato side, but every once in a while I get a little ketchup on my eggs and remember that it does have a compelling flavor.

Ketchup itself is incredibly pervasive, as condiments go. If pickles or chutney or chili oil were as standard on as many tables as ketchup is, you'd probably find them on eggs in a similar distribution.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:46 AM on August 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Northern California born and raised. I like ketchup on my eggs, scrambled or fried, but probably wouldn't put it on an omlet. I think eggs and tomatoes seems common across many cultures, it's a regular breakfast in my Persian side of my family.
posted by Swisstine at 7:48 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

My dad and his family always put ketchup on his scrambled eggs and french toast when I was a kid (1970's). We never had omelettes back then. My mom and us kids all thought it was disgusting. He doesn't do that anymore though.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:51 AM on August 8, 2017

(forgot to add, southern Ontario and Buffalo region)
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:52 AM on August 8, 2017

You know what's good? A hard boiled egg dipped in ketchup, like fries.

*twirling with both middle fingers up* don't judge me
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:58 AM on August 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

Huh. I'm realizing that I did NOT grow up putting ketchup on eggs, but I do now. Irish/NYC family background, also MD/didn't cook much background. I always thought it was a Southern thing, like sweet tea - friends from Alabama allllllways put ketchup on everything, including their ketchup.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 8:05 AM on August 8, 2017

From NC, live in NY. I didn't grow up doing it, but sometimes I will if I'm at a diner and everything's already mushed together on the plate anyway. I've always been led to believe it's common for 'less sophisticated' palettes, aka lower socioeconomic classes (speaking in my head in my mother's judgmental southern tone), and my observational data has shown similar trends. A randomly googled article:
posted by greta simone at 8:11 AM on August 8, 2017

Bay Area born, where ketchup on eggs was usually accidental overflow from ketchup on hash/hash browns/fried potatoes. Sriracha and/or hot sauce on eggs, though, different story, well-appreciated starting somewhere in the 90s from my observations.

New England: different story - ketchup on eggs is definitely more prevalent, but more of an individual preference than an "EVERYBODY/NOBODY does that!"
posted by Pandora Kouti at 8:14 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I grew up NJ and moved to PA, and in both places it's pretty routine to be given/offered ketchup with eggs. That said, I don't think I've ever been to breakfast with anyone who actually uses the ketchup, although I'm sure they exist somewhere.

I put ketchup on almost anything that will hold still long enough and am in fact in the middle of a heated (years-long) debate with my partner about ketchup on hot dogs, so I suppose it's kind of weird that I don't put it on eggs, but the textures just don't seem right to me.
posted by Stacey at 8:24 AM on August 8, 2017

Midwest-raised, some of my family did, some didn't. I thought the very idea disgusting, because ketchup by itself is pretty nasty and otherwise plain eggs are too bland to offset the flavor. Also, it's a weird texture combo. (I'd use less judgy language now, but my basic opinion hasn't changed.) Hot sauce on eggs, also very common, but then I lived in an urban area.
posted by praemunire at 8:26 AM on August 8, 2017

I'm half Irish, from Ohio, and I can't eat scrambled eggs without ketchup. Of note, one of the reasons I never started eating omelets is because you don't put ketchup on them.

My wife is Irish from Buffalo, NY, and she'd never heard of putting ketchup on eggs until we met.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:37 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

A lot of people do this here in the northeast. I've heard it cited as maybe-sorta-regional by people from vastly different regions with a variety of European ethnic immigrant roots -- Polish in Pittsburgh, German in central PA, Portuguese in Rhode Island, English in Massachusetts, Italian in New York, Scots/Irish in West Virginia, etc.

Also some people just really love ketchup.

(I personally can't stand ketchup.)
posted by desuetude at 8:39 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

From the Midwest, African-American family and putting ketchup on eggs was seen as an abomination in the eyes of the Lord in my household.

(That said, pretty much everyone I knew did it. I couldn't. Ketchup is still pretty abominable to me.)
posted by Tardis_Spin at 8:44 AM on August 8, 2017

I grew up in east TN (and spent time all over the state and the South generally) and never saw this. Only when I moved to Delaware did I start to see it. I'm an uneasy egg eater to begin with and it totally grosses me out.
posted by kimdog at 8:45 AM on August 8, 2017

My mom was from Chicago and my dad from Hawaii, and I grew up in Hawaii and put ketchup on my eggs. Still do, occasionally. No idea which parent I picked it up from.
posted by rtha at 8:49 AM on August 8, 2017

I grew up in Chicago and my Polish-American grandmother used to put ketchup on her scrambled eggs.
posted by Vek at 8:53 AM on August 8, 2017

Scrambled eggs and tomato ARE a Chinese thing, but I don't associate it with my childhood habit (in New Haven County, CT) of putting ketchup on eggs -- and lettuce, and pasta, and probably other things. Ketchup is sugar masquerading as sauce, just like ranch dressing.
posted by batter_my_heart at 9:23 AM on August 8, 2017

It came from the Pennsylvania side of our family. (Not Irish -- French / German, or so we think based on family trees.)
posted by slidell at 9:25 AM on August 8, 2017

My father's family is from the Chicagoland area (more generally the Southwest suburbs, more specifically, Aurora, IL). My eldest brother taught me to put ketchup on my scrambled eggs but I don't know if the rest of my siblings do (I've just put out a call on a group text to find out).

My mother's family is from rural Mississippi and as far as I can remember, she has always been horrified that I put ketchup on my eggs (my eldest brother is her step-son).

Further background: father's family is squarely German and English in heritage. Grandpa spoke German, grandma's parents came from somewhere in England. Mother's family is firmly Irish/Scottish/English but goes wayyyyyy back as Americans.

My husband's family is Eastern European (Slovak, Polish) and seriously cannot understand why I (and my daughter; my son hates scrambled eggs) put ketchup on my eggs.

Only scrambled, never fried or omeletted. The way god intended.
posted by cooker girl at 9:28 AM on August 8, 2017

I grew up in south Louisiana and have never, nor seen anyone in my family, put ketchup on eggs. Tabasco, maybe, but never ketchup. I don't think I was even aware of this as a thing until college or later.
posted by tryniti at 9:37 AM on August 8, 2017

I put ketchup on scrambled eggs, hot sauce on omelets. I'm from Wisconsin (German/Norwegian heritage).

I usually only put ketchup on eggs when I'm eating alone or with close friends, though, because in my experience, approximately half of people think it's super gross. The other half love it (sometimes shamefully...). This 50/50 split has been true wherever I've been in life.
posted by Weeping_angel at 9:41 AM on August 8, 2017

I grew up in Idaho. No one in my family puts ketchup on eggs, scrambled or otherwise. Home-made salsa or hot sauce, yes please! My family is white and of Irish/German/??? descent, but not embracing any particular heritage other than northwestern.
posted by esoterrica at 9:46 AM on August 8, 2017

I grew up near Pittsburgh. I do put ketchup on my scrambled eggs, and I believe my grandfather did as well.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:00 AM on August 8, 2017

Lifelong resident of Central/Western New York State. I've known egg-ketchuppers all my life, some in my family. I think my father ate them that way the most often. I usually put ketchup on my home fries, and if some gets on the eggs I don't complain. It's always been the same sort of issue as what you take in your coffee.

(Ancestry DNA says we have some Irish heritage, but none of us has ever identified with any sort of Irish-American culture as far back as I've known.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:14 AM on August 8, 2017

I do remember hot sauce (Tabasco or otherwise) being nearly universal.

When I was staying at the Las Vegas Hilton, I was fascinated by the teeny-tiny one-serving bottles of Tabasco sauce that were on all the used room service breakfast trays sitting in the hall. I had to swipe two still-sealed ones; too cute to resist.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:27 AM on August 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

I grew up in Ohio, parents from northern New England, and we put ketchup on scrambled eggs. Now I prefer salsa. We also put ketchup on Mom's excellent homemade mac & cheese, which I would still do if I could eat dairy. Salsa also a good option.

They put those tiny Tabasco bottles in MREs (US Armed Forces Meals, Ready to Eat), and my son brought me one, knowing I'd love it.
posted by theora55 at 10:29 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ketchup on scrambled eggs as a kid, lived in Delaware; now I use hot sauce from Barbados. This did bring up a memory of a friend whose (Polish) mother always served stewed tomatoes with her scrambled eggs. I did not care for that at all.
posted by racersix6 at 10:53 AM on August 8, 2017

Ketchup is delicious. No excuses needed. I get ribbed for putting ketchup on my mac & cheese. It's so good. Next time I have a chance, I'm going to try putting it on my eggs. Thanks for posting!
posted by JimN2TAW at 11:29 AM on August 8, 2017

Update from family:

No one except me and my brother do this.

A potentially complicating factor is that we are not all full siblings. We all share a father, though. The eldest and youngest (me) have different mothers. The four in-between have the same mother and father. My eldest brother comes from this cohort.

So, this must come from my dad's side, somehow. My brother is currently in the Philippines without cell service so I can't ask him why he started this. I'll see if I can find out, though!

Also: I used to dip potato chips in ketchup.
posted by cooker girl at 11:31 AM on August 8, 2017

My father-in-law did this. His family was out of Germany, settled in Nebraska, then migrated to Los Angeles.
None of his children picked up the habit, but his granddaughter does it.
posted by SLC Mom at 12:08 PM on August 8, 2017

Eggs cooked/poached in a tomato sauce are a staple all around the Mediterranean and comes in many forms. I wouldn't be surprised if it comes from multiple backgrounds.
posted by wwax at 1:14 PM on August 8, 2017

Dad's family did this. Mountain West (USA), Scandinavian heritage. Not Irish and never lived in New England.
posted by Knowyournuts at 1:35 PM on August 8, 2017

I wonder how well "ketchup on eggs" correlates with "pineapple on pizza."
posted by slkinsey at 2:10 PM on August 8, 2017

Ketchup on scrambled eggs when I was a kid and I know I got it from my father because my mom never ate eggs. He cooked them for us because she said cooking them made her gag. My father is Jewish, born in the 1920s, raised in the Bronx.

The only time I use ketchup now is on burgers.
posted by mareli at 2:20 PM on August 8, 2017

I sometimes do this, and agree with those who do it exclusively in diners -- I would not do it at home, but often add ketchup to my eggs or omelette at a diner, the greasier the better. I'm from the Midwest and have some Irish heritage, but we eat no other Irish foods (at least not in a "family heritage" way).
posted by rainbowbrite at 2:50 PM on August 8, 2017

I've spent a lifetime in the midwest and I've seen people put ketchup on about everything edible, including steak, bologna and other meat sandwiches, hot dogs, all types of fried or sauteed potatoes, about anything breaded and deep fried, and eggs of all types but boiled or poached.
posted by she's not there at 3:01 PM on August 8, 2017

tl;dr but somebody uses it, that's why there's always a ketchup bottle on the table at American breakfast restaurants. This bi-coastal DC native doesn't need it then (especially for my eggs)... well, maybe for the hash browns, but keep it away from my eggs. And no Tabasco either.
posted by Rash at 3:13 PM on August 8, 2017

California girl. My parents and I put ketchup on our eggs (scrambled, over easy, fried, omelette). My dad and I also like to eat scrambled eggs with A1 sauce.
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:40 PM on August 8, 2017

I ate scrambled eggs with ketchup for breakfast just this morning. I've always liked eggs that way. I grew up in New Orleans and got it from my mom - French descent/born in New Orleans, but I always thought it was just a trick to get me to eat eggs. I've never put ketchup on other kinds of eggs though. People do think it's really weird though. My husband does it too. He was also born in New Orleans with a French mom and a German dad.
posted by artychoke at 3:42 PM on August 8, 2017

Why don't you call up Waffle House HQ and ask them if they have thoughts or even some sort of data on this?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:54 PM on August 8, 2017

I like ketchup on plain scrambled eggs and sometimes a western omelette. When I started doing this my East coast and Texan Jewish family ribbed me for a while; my dad says I got it from associating with WASPs in northern Virginia - I say okydokey and enjoy my eggs.
posted by Mizu at 3:55 PM on August 8, 2017

I grew up in the Southeastern US (the NC coastal region, to be specific) and putting ketchup on eggs was not super common. In fact, one of my more judgmental extended family members once made a big deal about not trusting an aunt's new boyfriend because he put ketchup--and sometimes even salsa!--on his eggs. I actually recall another relative theorizing that maybe the ketchup was only for when he couldn't get salsa. No idea if that was based in fact or someone was just trying to sound smart.

I did pick up salsa-on-eggs from my Mexican coworkers at various restaurants as I got older, which meant I fit in well when I moved to northern California.

I live in Denver, CO now and spend a fair amount of time in breakfast/brunch restaurants, and I've never noticed people putting ketchup on their eggs. But why would they when green chili is a thing here?
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:27 PM on August 8, 2017

Grew up in NJ; British mother and Hungarian father; ketchup on scrambled eggs only. I'm pretty sure I got this from my mom and that my dad never did it.
posted by velvet_n_purrs at 7:52 PM on August 8, 2017

My dad puts ketchup on his eggs and introduced me to it. I still occasionally do this. He's 72 and grew up in the poorest area of Syracuse, NY. He was just a white dude of English ancestry whose family had been here since the 1600's, but most of his neighborhood was populated by recent immigrants from Ireland, Italy, and areas in Europe where Jews and other minorities were escaping Naziism. He was poor enough that his school lunch was frequently just a condiment on bread (mustard and mayo or ketchup and mayo sandwiches) and I just always assumed that ketchup was a handy and cheap way for poor people to add quick flavor to food.
posted by xyzzy at 10:20 PM on August 8, 2017

Paternal grandfather, born 1920s, lifelong NYCer, lifelong diner patron, without fail put ketchup on his scrambled eggs every single time. My father, born 1940s, NYC born & raised & diner-lover, does not. When I was a kid and witnessed my grandfather's ketchup habit, I copied it because I always thought eggs were gross anyway. When my father saw this, he remarked how my grandfather picked up the ketchup habit while serving in the US military (WWII & Korean War) because the packaged eggs for infantrymen were, as you can imagine, disgusting.
posted by cluebucket at 6:24 AM on August 9, 2017

Oh wow, I suddenly had a memory of my grandfather (WWII) saying the same thing. He just had a general opinion, as well, that ketchup was for covering/flavoring bad food, or for meatloaf and maybe hamburgers, but otherwise it was sort of insulting to put it on decent food someone had cooked for you.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:15 AM on August 9, 2017

I used to. Now I don't. I got the habit from my mom who was born in PA. Hungarian and Slovenian roots. I don't remember her mother or father doing it though.
posted by kathrynm at 9:34 AM on August 9, 2017

I suspect a lot of the ketchup-on-eggs thing got spread around by folks like Lyn Never's grandfather, guys who were just trying to make Army chow edible and brought those habits with them when they returned home --- that would certainly make sense of the wide usage, spanning pretty much any ancestry or region.

I myself eat oatmeal with a raw beaten egg in it: this isn't from any old family recipes or traditions, it comes via my father, who picked it up in the Navy as a young sailor.
posted by easily confused at 10:52 AM on August 9, 2017

But raw egg dropped/stirred into porridge/rice/stew is incredibly common in various parts of the world - and probably wouldn't have escaped the notice of hardworking hungry sailors grabbing a big steaming bowl of hangover relief on shore leave.

(Though I suspect hardworking hungry folk have probably independently invented putting eggs in things over and over again for thousands of years, too.)
posted by Lyn Never at 4:21 PM on August 9, 2017

Asked my mother today for more details, and she said it was my father who brought egg-ketchupping into the family (and he might have picked it up in the Marines). But she said of her own father, "If it was possible to wrap something in bread and put Frank's Red Hot on it, that's how he ate it."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:47 PM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

This thread is linked on GoodShit this morning. (This link is OK, but GoodShit in general is NSFW.)

To answer the question, I don't use ketchup on eggs, but I understand the impulse.
posted by Bruce H. at 9:15 AM on August 10, 2017

Do you put ketchup on your eggs? Where did you pick the idea up?

a) I don't eat a lot of eggs, but when I do, yes. Scrambled or fried, but not hard-boiled. b) Can't remember. I asked my younger sister if our parents did when we were still living at home – Central PA – many decades ago, and she said, "No." "What do you put on your eggs?" I asked, and she said, "Ketchup and mayonnaise."

I think that people who like ketchup ('with a K') in the first place probably put it on all sorts of things. Mac and cheese, as theora55 and JimN2TAW mention above, probably is my favorite. I also like it on tuna fish or sardine or salmon sandwiches, on rice or in ramen, and to top off a vegetarian bowl that combines peas, mushrooms, wheat germ, and shredded cheese.

Unlike our current boor-in-chief, I wouldn't put it on a good steak, but then I don't really eat a lot of steak.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:10 PM on August 12, 2017

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