Thinking about making your own ketchup? Remember, there are people who make ketchup all day long — people who think a lot about how to make ketchup taste really good. If you are reading this, you are likely not one of these people. They already know how to make ketchup.

First, making ketchup is harder than it seems. Here’s one basic recipe:

1 gallon cooked tomatoes
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons dry mustard
1 Tablespoon ground allspice
1 pint cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1/2 Tablespoon ground cloves

One gallon of tomatoes, a whole goddamn pint of vinegar, and mustard. You need mustard to make this ketchup? I told you making ketchup is hard.

Different recipes call for different things. Some say scald and strain the tomatoes. Scalding is a term whose meaning remains up for grabs. One dictionary says that scalding means boiling, and another says that scalding is just below boiling. Still another says that scalding is simply “the act of exposing things to heat.” How are you supposed to know what to do? I say: Give up now.

Listen, first you have to scald a gallon of tomatoes. Then you have to puree the tomatoes. There is this one recipe from Canada that says, and I quote, “If you wish to get all fancy, removing the seeds before pureeing makes it taste even better.”

So go ahead and remove the seeds, and after that you can pull down your pants and show off for us, Mr. Fancy Pants. Then comes a lot of hubbub about canning and the USDA’s National Center for Home Food Preservation. If you don’t do it right, you might get botulism, the symptoms of which include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. Party!

After boiling and pureeing the tomatoes, there are a shitload of things you need to add. Sugar and spice and some other stuff that makes it taste like ketchup and not tomato juice. And, oh yeah, did I mention the mustard? What the hell?

In conclusion, it’s much easier to buy ketchup. It’s not very expensive, and they’ve got that new upside-down bottle. Plus, they modeled the new squeezie valve after a heart valve, which somehow solves the first-squirt-is-just-pink-vinegar problem. The new squeezie ketchup valve, that is, not the heart valve.

Frankly, you don’t even need to buy ketchup. Our society provides many opportunities to secure free delicious free ketchup made by professionals. Any one of your local fast-food restaurants likely provide free ketchup in little plastic packets. Hundreds of these comfortably fit into the pockets of an oversized trench coat.

Now just think of what you can do with all that delicious ketchup. Need ketchup? It’s right there in your pocket. Need Russian Dressing? Just add mayo. Need mustard? You’ve got the ketchup, which is what, like eighty-five percent mustard anyway? I can’t remember. Need a gin and tonic? Blend some gin with some tonic. Need hors d’oeuvres for a wake? Need matzoh for Passover? Need snacks for a movie? Just go buy them, like you bought the ketchup that you stole.