When Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran wrote June 1 that the Lejeune commissary’s collection of 15 types of ketchup was a good example of the unnecessary splendor of the commissary system, he probably had no idea what was about to happen.
As annoyed as benefits haters seem to be by the existence of the commissary system, military spouses across the internet matched those feelings with their disgust over the ketchup statement.
NextGen MilSpouse called the whole thing Ketchupgate. The spouses over at the MIlitary Spouse JD Network created a “what you think I do” Facebook meme.
And Jeremy Hilton, an outspoken activist for military family rights, did what he always does in situations like these. He took action. But instead of storming the hill or testifying before Congress, his action was simple:
He ordered for Chandrasekaran via Amazon.com a six-pack of ketchup.
The last we heard about 20 spouses have followed suit. Others were planning to email him photos of ketchup.
Sometime late this week Chandrasekaran will receive about 120 bottles of ketchup in the mail.
Honestly, I’m starting to feel a little sorry for Chandrasekaran. As a reporter and writer I know that it is easy to write things without thinking them all the way through. And before you know it, you’re getting royally schooled by people who know you were wrong and have no problem calling you out on it.
We were those people yesterday. We stand by that.
Those are hard but necessary moments to be a writer with a public voice -- hard because it’s embarrassing, necessary because it makes you a better person and a better voice for your readers.
We didn’t contribute to the ketchup onslaught - via mail or electronically.
But we know that Chandrasekaran is about to face a brand new challenge: what to do with a substantial ketchup surplus.
We like to be helper people. So we want to give the fella a hand. We’ve given the subject a think and come up with 10 things a person can do with extra ketchup. Got better ideas? Leave them in the comments.
Top 10 Things a Reporter Can do With Extra Ketchup1. Explore new culinary creations like “Ketchup Soup.” Hey, we all get bored of the same old same old in the kitchen. And Chandrasekaran surely isn’t the exception to that rule. Lucky for him there are recipes like this one just waiting to be tried.
2. Pack a bottle for his next embed downrange. Chandraskekaran has spent some quality time with our troops downrange, so he knows that those MREs can be a bit on the bland side. If he stows just two of his bottles in his gear on his next trip he can spice his meals AND have enough to share with a few servicemembers who dont have access to the commissary for restocking of their own supply.
3. Shine that copper. Maybe I’m outing myself as crazy, but one of the things that makes me most happy is well shined copper pots hanging in my kitchen. Now Chandrasekaran can have this same pleasure at no extra cost and with just a little elbow grease. And bonus! There’s even a handy tutorial here.
4. Bring meatloaf for the office. As a reporter I am privy to a special universal truth: reporters are incapable of saying “no” to free food. Even if that food is meatloaf. Chandrasekaran can do some serious friend winning and editor influencing by carting a meatloaf dinner to the office. Here are some recipes he can try.
5. Repurpose ketchup bottles. As he follows our advice and chips away at his ketchup collection, he’s going to have a lot of empty bottles on his hands. But that’s OK, because Real Simple, the sum of all repurposing knowledge, had a great idea for that. Check it out here.
6. Use the collection as inspiration for his next Halloween costume. Oh, we know Chandrasekaran is always in a pickle about what to wear for Halloween just like the rest of us. But he’s going to be OK this time around because we’ve got him squared. Enter: the ketchup halloween costume. Bingo. Problem solved.
7. Bathe his dog. Did you know ketchup is one of those tricky tools for getting skunk out of a dog coat? Skunks are sneaky little buggers - you never know when one is going to catch you and fido unaware. But he's prepared with his ketchup stash!
8. Spice up his condiment shelf. With all the ketchup he might get tired of how it looks. Which is why people have created fancy ketchup bottle caps like these.
9. Form a firm opinion in the great ketchup warmth debate. Ever noticed that restaurants keep the condiments warm? And yet many households across the country keep theirs cold. What is up with that? Now Chandrasekaran can test to a definitive answer whether ketchup is better warm or cold.
10. Host a BBQ for servicemembers and their families, condiments provided, of course -- and vow to never, ever again twit the modest benefits of the military.