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Hot dog or burger wouldnt be the same without condiments
Mustard, ketchup, relish, mayonnaise, the combinations are endless with condiments. - photo by Tom Reed

At Brad's Grill in Gainesville, customers' love of condiments has made the hot dog without the dog so popular it is now on the daily menu.

Customers kept requesting the hot dog served up with just the bun covered in toppings, said Assistant Manager Maggie Vandiver.

"They build it like a regular hot dog but without meat - ketchup, mustard, slaw, onions," she said.

OK, so that's a little hard core. But it doesn't change the fact that we like our condiments.

Hamburgers, hot dogs or even chicken sandwiches can seem like blank canvases, waiting to be painted with bright combinations of mustard, mayonnaise, relish and hot sauce.

And, of course, who could forget ketchup?

"Ketchup is the most sought after," said David Sonnon, commodities buyer for Performance Food Group in Oakwood. "The No. 1 condiment is ketchup."

Vandiver agreed that ketchup is also king at Brad's.

"We probably go through 100 pounds of ketchup a week," she said.

And that's just a drop in the ketchup bucket for PFG, according to Sonnon, The company sells more than 62,200 pounds of ketchup each week to restaurants and other food suppliers across North Georgia.

That's enough ketchup to equal the weight of 15 Volkswagen Beetles. Every week.

"There are 20 different varieties of ways to buy ketchup," he said. "It's the craziest thing. You don't think about it, but there actually is a flavor difference between ketchups."

Well, sort of. Sonnon, a Heinz ketchup lover himself, added that a ketchup sales representative conducted a taste test at PFG last year so employees could taste the difference between ketchups.

The results were surprising.

"Not a single person could figure out which ketchup was which," Sonnon said.

And Sonnon, just like millions of other Americans, said he has his own flavor creation that he uses to top his burger.

"Only mustard and pickles on my burger," he said. "It's the only thing I ever put on a hamburger."

But for Bobby McLain, co-owner of AJ's Food Fun & Friends, it's ketchup only on his burgers.

Well, along with bacon, pepper jack cheese and jalapeños.

"We go through about 4 gallons of ketchup a week," said McLain about the most popular condiment not made at his eatery. Many other sauces, like barbecue, ranch and blue cheese dressings, are made on site.

He said there haven't been too many strange requests for condiments at AJ's, except for a little malt vinegar.

And Vandiver said nothing really seems strange to her anymore after five years at Brad's Grill.

"Honey and Tabasco is popular for breakfast," she said, along with the homemade slaw at lunch.

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