Political Food Fight

Like one of those interstellar black holes that draw in everything around them—even light—the current presidential campaign's nasty partisan whorl has sucked up a whole host of seemingly irrelevant topics. Take ketchup.

Because Democratic challenger John Kerry's wife is heir to the Heinz family fortune, some Republicans have shunned the use of H.J. Heinz Co. products, especially the company's signature ketchup line, because it might benefit the Kerry campaign. There is even a Republican alternative, “W” ketchup, which is sure to earn a place next to Billy Beer in the catalog of odd political collectibles once the election is over.

But it looks like much ado (though clever opportunism) about not much. According to the www.heinz.com [3] website, Heinz family trusts and endowments (including Mrs. Kerry-Heinz's portion) currently own less than four percent of Heinz stock.

That means the Kerry campaign gets about as much benefit from Heinz as the Bush campaign does from sales of Bush's Baked Beans (which the presidential Bush family has nothing to do with).

Not that a political connection is all bad. Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards's fondness for Diet Coke and Wendy's have provided those firms with invaluable (if subtle) publicity largely untainted by partisan connection. At least unless it's revealed that Edwards enjoys his Wendy's fries dipped in Heinz ketchup...