USA: Heinz EZ Squirt(TM) hits store shelves; industry watches unusual food phenomenon unfold
Condiments as cool? That's the assertion today from the nation's largest ketchup producer, as its newest innovation -- Heinz EZ Squirt(TM) -- begins delivery to grocery store shelves, following months of pleas, pressure and petitions from American consumers. The product, available in both red and green, has been touted around the globe as one of this year's most eagerly-awaited items."There was never a doubt the EZ Squirt bottle would be a hit with kids because ketchup is inherently fun," according to Casey Keller, managing director of global ketchup, condiments and sauces for Heinz. "But, the overwhelming response has surprised even us. It's not often you see eight-year-olds demanding their own ketchup the way they would a new toy."Since the company first announced its plans for Heinz EZ Squirt -- particularly the Blastin' Green variety -- it has been flooded with non-stop letters, phone calls and proposals from kids and adults. Ranging from requests for school fund-raisers to inquiries by professional athletes, movie studios and Hollywood celebrities, the public demand has outpaced the company's initial supply, an unprecedented event for the 130-year-old company.Heinz estimates that its sales forecast for the product's first year of shipments will be met in the first 90 days, and the company has stepped up production to ensure that grocery store shelves remain stocked, increasing production to 24 hours, seven days a week and adding additional equipment.
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