fimoculous directed me to Malcolm Gladwell's excellent story about ketchup. Well, it isn't just about ketchup. It's about ketchup, and mustard, and, most importantly, consumer preferences and measuring them. Along the way, Gladwell quotes Andrew Smith quoting Elizabeth Rozin:
"There's a quote from Elizabeth Rozin I've always loved," he said. Rozin is the food theorist who wrote the essay "Ketchup and the Collective Unconscious," and Smith used her conclusion as the epigraph of his ketchup book: ketchup may well be "the only true culinary expression of the melting pot, and . . . its special and unprecedented ability to provide something for everyone makes it the Esperanto of cuisine."
Rozin's Flavor Principle cookbook, and other writings, are probably the most interesting adventures in culinary anthropology I've read. They help in the kitchen too.