“Ketchup is totally innocuous, appreciated by folks of every color and political stripe,” said state assembly representative Beth Tinkler. “It gives, but it never takes away. It’s the perfect accompaniment for a variety of dishes, from grilled sausages to veggie burgers.”
“I’ve never met a single South Carolinian who finds ketchup offensive,” she said. “I daresay it’s more universally appreciated than mustard, mayonnaise and sweet relish put together.”
Charleston restaurant patron Dwight Pope says he approves of the move.
“I’ve been eating ketchup since before I can remember,” he said. “Love the stuff.”
Critics, however, point out that tomatoes — native to the Americas and first brought to Europe by Spanish conquistadors — are also viewed by some as a cruel symbol of colonization and genocide. And at least one group, the South Carolina Allergies Alliance, is voicing its concern that having a flag representative of tomatoes flying over the state capitol building is disrespectful to the thousands of residents who are allergic to the fruit.
“Hives, a drop in blood pressure, anaphylaxis and even death are not what we want people to associate with South Carolina and our rich history and culture,” said Mary Gail Clyburn, the organization’s president. “Which is why we strongly urge legislators to consider emblazoning the flag with the image of an EpiPen, which in many cases can save the life of a person suffering from a serious allergic reaction.”