• Jeff Fox: Life is sweet; leave it that way

  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Just pour and enjoy.

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  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Just pour and enjoy.
    Yes, it is true that I pay a little too much attention to the ups and downs on Wall Street, the mergers and acquisitions, the what have you on CNBC and Bloomberg. We all have our soap operas.
    So I should know better than to get worked up over one more megadeal, but this involves Heinz Ketchup. Sure, I like all manner of condiments, including the fancy mustards and various salsas and hot sauces, but who would want to live in a world without an abundance of basic ketchup?
    Here’s the thing, and I presume to speak for millions: I will buy the cheapo store-brand version of just about anything, but there is a short list of exceptions: Grape Nuts, Folger’s coffee and Heinz Tomato Ketchup.
    This is a simple product: tomatoes, vinegar and sugar (well, corn syrup, which is a whole different conversation). Basically, if you get the balance of those things right – plenty sweet, tone down the sharpness – you can’t screw this up. Heinz has been at it for about 130 years, and they’ve got it figured out.
    Thus my worry.
    I do trust Warren Buffett, the well-known gazillionaire and observer of the world – again, he’s on CNBC a lot – because anyone who buys a whole railroad can’t be all bad.
    But we know how this goes. The new guys always want to change things because they are the new guys and, therefore, everything the old guys did for the last 130 years is a big fail. In many places, this is called management.
    So consultants, product-design specialists and other seers of great visions will gather around poor old Warren and deluge him with white papers and PowerPoints. We see a market niche, they will coo, for Heinz Ultra, Heinz Lite, HeinZero and – yes, someone will say it – New Heinz.
    New Coke three decades ago did grievous damage to Coca-Cola, but you have to go through that to get to Heinz Classic, even if it already is a classic and not one customer demanding change can be found.
    At the risk of gumming up the wheels of innovation and commerce – not to mention consulting and marketing – we the lovers of ketchup hope old Warren has the fortitude to say: “Hey, folks, you know this is tomatoes, vinegar and sugar, right? Don’t overthink it. Sell ketchup. It’s on the shelves of thousands of stores, and most customers could find it in their sleep. Just sell ketchup. Otherwise, we’ll have the worst thing imaginable – red on our bottom line. Now tell me about this eggplant salsa idea.”
    Now it comes to light that the feds are looking into suspicious trading ahead of last week’s announcement of the $23 billion sale. That’s a lot of ketchup. They’ve frozen a Swiss bank account and whispered phrases such as “insider trading.” That’s a little too much palace intrigue for me, though it sounds a little thin even for a good Bond movie.
    Page 2 of 2 - Toasted bun, hamburger, mayo, grilled onions, a touch of mustard and good splash of ketchup – perfect. Let’s not overthink this. Let well enough alone. There are other worlds to conquer elsewhere.
    Follow Jeff Fox on Twitter @Jeff_Fox.

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