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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Current Affairs (06/07/12)

TITLE: Reform for Ketchup
By Joe Moreland


Maria sat at her desk; the task set before her by her social science teacher was to write a cognizant article about something amiss in current affairs. Well, something was amiss alright. Maria had been peeved about it for a long time now and she couldn’t understand why the general public continued to stand for the outrage it represented.

The more she thought about the offense, the angrier Maria became, until she knew she was ready to begin her paper. All the facts were laid out at her fingertips and her righteous indignation was at its peak. Time to put pen to paper!

Carefully she wrote her title at the top of the page: CATSUP

Maria looked at the word and thought about it. Something didn’t look quite right. Hastily she trashed that piece of paper and set before her a crisp and clean blank sheet.

Again she wrote her title: KETCHUP

“Much better!” She said out loud. “Now we’re getting somewhere.“

The words began to pour forth and soon Maria had a paper that she was sure Henry David Throw would envy. Now she just had to await her opportunity to present it in class tomorrow. The thought of twenty other kids rallying to her cry for justice and joining her in the good fight made her flush with excitement.


“And now class,” Mr. Johnson announced, “we have Maria Jenkins to present her paper, titled…ummm…Ketchup…?”

Maria stepped up to the front of the class and hardly looked at her paper as the words she had written seemed to flow through her in a magical way.

“It all started about a year ago at my family’s most recent Family Reunion. It was a picnic, of course, with all kinds of food. The main courses were hot dogs and hamburgers. Being a con-sewer of picnic foods – that’s a fancy way of saying I know a lot about them – I naturally decided to have both a hot dog and a hamburger.

“Now, eating a hot dog and a hamburger may seem like a simple process to some of the more uneducated picnic con-sewers, but, in fact, it is a very complicated thing that requires a great deal of planning and organization. For instance, you should always get the hamburger onto your plate first and then the hot dog, otherwise the hot dog will just roll right off your plate and get eaten by the first lop-eared, flea-bitten dog that happens to be following you around just because you have a reputation for dropping food.

“But I digest – that means I got off-topic. The really complicated part of making your hot dog and hamburger is applying the condominiums – that’s stuff like mustard and ketchup - which brings me to my main point.

“Have you seen the bottles they put ketchup in these days? Those ones that have the flat lids and sit upside down? They’re ridiculous! You squeeze them a little bit and nothing comes out. You squeeze some more and still nothing comes out! You set your plate down on the picnic table so you can grab the bottle with both hands and squeeze really, really, hard and suddenly a flood of ketchup comes out, drowns both your hot dog and your hamburger, getting all over the buns – which is totally unacceptable – and then splashes all over your pretty pink dress that your mom bought just for the family reunion, causing you to jump back from the picnic table, and allowing just enough room for the stupid dog to jump up and grab your hot dog right off the plate and run away with it, forcing you to run after him screaming ‘Come back with my dog, you stupid dog!’, while knocking other people’s plates out of their hands as you chase after the stupid dog, all of which causes some genius who happens to have a camera phone to post a dumb video of you up on the internet that makes you look like a complete idiot!

“What were those stupid people at the ketchup company thinking when they came up with those STUPID BOTTLES!”

Maria looked out at her classmates, completely out of breath. Somehow she had not inspired the righteous fury in them she had pictured in her head. It looked more like slack-jawed confusion.

Mr. Johnson stepped up next to Maria and cleared his throat. “Thank you, Maria, for that fine discourse on the injustices of…ketchup.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Francy Judge 06/09/12
I enjoyed this funny story. Your character's voice was perfect for her age. I can sympathize with her annoyance over those new bottles--they are a challenge to squeeze just right!
lynn gipson 06/12/12
Excellent...very funny...this is a winner to me
Allison Egley 06/12/12
This is so cute!

I was a bit confused on how old the MC was supposed to be... Not knowing the correct pronunciation of words like "digress" and "connoisseur" didn't fit with the rest of the writing, to me. The other writing was too advanced to not know those words. But that may just be me.

Loved the rant on ketchup and the alternate spelling at the beginning.
Dannie Hawley 06/13/12
Very cleverly done... a real hoot! New bottles? I hadn't heard. Hopefully, by the time I get back to the States, others will have sent articles like yours to the manufacturers so I won't ever have to experience this frustration first-hand. Reading about it was enough for me, really. Thanks for the laughs to start my day.