The design quest to solve the ketchup bottle problem–namely, how to get the ketchup out of the bottle–is ongoing. There was the advent of squeeze bottles, of course. And about a year ago, a team at MIT devoted their talents to developing LiquiGlide, the slippery coating guaranteed to ease out the last bits of ketchup out of the bottle.
Problem is, neither of those inventions can keep a hamburger safe from the watery liquid that splurts out unappealingly in advance of the delightfully red, viscous ketchup. Luckily, a pair of Missouri high school students have decided to tackle these aptly named “ketchup-related problems,” because, as we all know, “wet bread is gross.” Their solution? A small piece of plastic that traps the unwanted liquid.
High school seniors Tyler Richards and Jonathan Thompson participate in Project Lead The Way, a national K-12 program that fosters interest in science, engineering, and design by way of hands-on projects. Students begin each project by finishing the phrase, “it really bugs me when.”
First, Richards and Thompson pored over all the ketchup-themed patents out there to make sure a competing invention didn’t exist. Then the pair drafted up about 60 potential design solutions, and settled on one they called the “mushroom.” To experience the magic, you insert the plastic gizmo inside a ketchup bottle. When you squeeze the sides of the bottle, the thicker ketchup puree–the part you want–gets forced towards the cap. The round base of the device traps the watery leftovers.
Richards and Thompson say they aren’t going to endeavor to bring the “mushroom” to market. But if they did, their research shows that they could make the product for about $0.22 and sell to consumers for $3.00–a reasonable price for ketchup lovers who dread the pale-red liquid.