Thursday, December 25, 2014

Does it work? Centrifugal condiments

Can anything else be coaxed out of that almost-empty ketchup bottle? So many have tried and failed. (istockphoto)
Can anything else be coaxed out of that almost-empty ketchup bottle? So many have tried and failed. (istockphoto)

Summer barbeques are full of good times, and typically offer the classic cookout staples: burgers and hot dogs. You might find yourself waiting in line at the food table, having just chosen your protein. You're building the perfect arrangement of fixings to go along with that delicious burger or dog, when you hear the sound of a squeeze bottle on empty. That solitary raspberry the universe throws at you just when you're about to reach picnic food perfection. Your meal is ruined!

Can anything else be coaxed out of that bottle? So many have tried and failed; the quick-shake, the bottom-pound, the standard moves that rarely yield anything more from the clear bottle that teases you with a visual of condiment bliss plastered to the walls inside. Or is there some new method for extracting the remaining liquid gold from this taunting bottle? One life hack site claims you can empty virtually any condiment bottle with centrifugal force, by swinging your arm in a windmill motion with the bottle's cap/squeeze spout facing outwards. But does it work? I was determined to find out.

I conducted a simple experiment with six common household condiments in typical plastic squeeze bottles: ketchup, yellow mustard, brown mustard, relish, mayonnaise, and ranch salad dressing. The bottles were all opened and nearly drained of their contents, leaving a small but significant amount of condiment left. Each bottle was allowed to settle so that the contents would be at the furthest possible distance from the squeeze spout, and then swung in one complete circle. Each bottle was then opened and squeezed.

So, Does it Work?

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  • The answer is a resounding yes. Every condiment tested yielded a favorable result in extracting the remaining contents of the bottle. While some of the thicker condiments (i.e, the mayonnaise, ranch dressing, and brown mustard) left some small residue on the walls of the bottle, the majority of remaining condiment was squeezed out. In the cases of the thinner condiments (ketchup, yellow mustard, relish), very little, if any residue was left. Digging into the science of it, centrifugal force (or inertia, for you science perfectionists) is at work. While tapping or hitting the bottom of the bottle or attempting to shake the contents down can yield some result, the force being applied to the condiment in the bottle is short and abrupt. Whereas when the bottle is swung in a full windmill circular motion, force is being applied at a constant, steady rate and is far more effective at pushing the contents of the bottle towards the end you want it at, the squeeze spout.

    So amaze your friends at parties with a new parlor trick, or be the hero of that Labor Day barbeque by giving someone the ability to use that last little bit of ketchup in the bottle. Just make sure to warn people to give you enough room to work, or you might end up delivering a condiment concussion instead.

    Dan Basile For Philly.com
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