Patrick Mahomes has a saucy secret he’d like to keep hidden given that the reigning NFL MVP plays for a team located in the heart of Midwestern BBQ country.
InsideHook, however, is in the business of writing headlines, not keeping secrets. So here goes.
In addition to being the capital for Chiefs fans, Kansas City, Missouri, is a place where you go to get pork ribs slathered in sweet, tangy red sauce. When Mahomes dines on BBQ, he’s no exception to following that tradition — except in the privacy of his own home.
“It’s weird,” Mahomes tells InsideHook. “When I get BBQ from the barbecue joint, I eat it with the barbecue sauce when I’m at the place. But if I get it to go, I’ll put ketchup on it. I don’t know why. That’s kind of how I’ve always been.”
It sounds sacrilegious at best and saucio-pathic at worst, but sauce savant Roger Mooking, the co-host of Heat Seekers on the Food Network and host of the Cooking Channel’s Man’s Greatest Food, says it actually isn’t that crazy.
“Personally, I’m more of a mustard guy so I don’t generally use ketchup, so he lost me at the gate on that one,” Mooking says. “But, it’s not that much of a stretch to be honest. Most of those red BBQ sauces you have, the base it about 80 percent ketchup. So it’s not that much of a stretch to add more ketchup to it. It’s already there.”
Regardless, if Mahomes played in Chicago and admitted to putting ketchup on a hot dog instead of yellow mustard, green relish, chopped onions, tomato wedges, a pickle, celery salt and maybe some peppers, he’d be declawed even if he was leading the Bears to 12-win seasons, as he did with the Chiefs last year.
“You shouldn’t put ketchup on your hot dog,” President Obama, a Chicago resident, has said in the past. “That’s one of those things like, well, let me put it this way, it’s not acceptable past the age of 8.”
But Mahomes plays in Kansas City and, thus far at least, his ketchup BBQ secret remains has flown under the radar even if his love for Hunt’s, whom he signed on as an endorser of last December, has been made public.
“I’ve been a fan of ketchup for as long as I can remember, and the thick, rich flavor of Hunt’s ketchup delivers every time,” Mahomes said when the deal was announced. “I’m thrilled to be joining the Hunt’s team.”
And we don’t think the third-year player is joking about how far back his love for the mix of tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, salt, spices, flavorings, onions and sometimes garlic stretches. According to his personal biography, since he was in short pants, Mahomes has loved ketchup the way Tom Brady loves gluten-free carbs, avocado ice cream and winning Super Bowls.
“It was a long time ago, but when I was a little kid, I used to just eat ketchup sandwiches that were just ketchup and bread,” Mahomes says. “I used to get teased about it all the time because people thought it was very strange that I didn’t put any ham, turkey or anything else on it, just ketchup and bread. I grew out of it, so, I don’t do that anymore.”
He may have grown out of ketchup sandwiches, but Mahomes’ love of his favorite condiment is still as strong as it was when he was little as, in addition to take-out BBQ, he puts in on everything from eggs and steak to mac and cheese. Also, even though he doesn’t consider them sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers.
“I don’t consider a hot dog a sandwich,” he says. “I consider it as its own thing and I do put ketchup on my hot dog 100 percent of the time. Hamburgers are also their own thing. They go together in a separate category.”
Similar to the way Chicagoans would tear into Mahomes’ hot dog preferences, burger expert George Motz, who estimates he’s eaten 15,000 burgers over the past 20 years, takes issue with the All-Pro quarterback’s hamburger choices.
“People think that you have to put ketchup on a burger and it’s the biggest no-no in the world as far as I’m concerned,” Motz says. “Ketchup hides the flavor of beef. Scientifically, things like mayonnaise, mustard, onions … those things all work towards helping enhance the flavor of the beef. Things that are sweeter like ketchup tend to take away from the beefy flavor.”
While they don’t root for him on the football field, founders of Tennessee-based Porter Road James Peisker and Chris Carter actually have Mahomes’ back in the burger debate.
“We love ketchup, but only when it’s the final touch on an already great burger. No amount of sauce can hide the lackluster flavor of mediocre meat,” Peisker says. “Ketchup is a delicious pairing for meat because the sugar and vinegar help balance out all that meaty flavor.”
And that may even extend to BBQ.
“It’s well-known cooking ‘hack’ that sugar, acid and salt are the keys to making flavors pop, and ketchup features the holy trinity,” Carter adds. “Just make sure you’re using it to bring out flavors you already love, rather than attempting to mask the flavor of sub-par meat, or to compensate for dried-out burgers.”
Mahomes may want to stop by Porter Road for some positive reinforcement about his condiment usage when the Chiefs travel to play the Titans during Week 11 this season.