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Maybe This Explains the Mono-Red Uniforms

I generally don’t care one way or the other about athletes’ product endorsements, but I was intrigued by the recent news about Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. As you may have heard, Mahomes really likes ketchup (he puts it on, among other things, his steak and his mac-and-cheese), and earlier this week he signed an endorsement deal — with Hunt’s.

Hunt’s is the nation’s No. 2 ketchup, behind Heinz, but that’s sort of like saying I would come in second in a race with Usain Bolt. Multiple sources indicate that Heinz has about 60% of the American ketchup market, with Hunt’s at 20-25%. And if you break it down by sales revenue, Hunt’s has barely been in Heinz’s rear-view mirror for most of this decade.

But hey, maybe Mahomes really prefers Hunt’s, right? Nope. At a recent press conference, before the Hunt’s deal was announced, he was asked if he had a favorite brand and responded, “Not really. I have Hunt’s, I do Heinz, I do it all. My favorite’s probably the Whataburger ketchup. Texas people would know that one.”

It’s not clear whether Heinz tried to ink Mahomes to an endorsement deal, although they did offer him free ketchup for life if he threw 57 touchdown passes by the season’s end (which is highly unlikely). That proposition is presumably off the table now that he’s signed with Hunt’s.

I find all of this very interesting. For one thing, the ketchup market is oddly stagnant. As the writer Malcolm Gladwell has noted, there are endless varieties of mustard but, for most practical purposes, only two brands of ketchup, one of which strongly outperforms the other. It’s not like the cola wars, where Coke and Pepsi are jockeying for the top spot.

All of which makes it intriguing, at least to me, that Mahomes has chosen to affiliate himself with Hunt’s. Now, maybe that’s the deal he took because it was the only ketchup deal being offered to him. Still, it seems unusual for a rising sports star like Mahomes to partner with a brand that’s such an also-ran, especially when he has no preference for the product. I suppose this could be spun as a sort of “scrappy underdog” thing, but that too seems like an atypical role for a young star like Mahomes.

I don’t mean any of this as a criticism of Mahomes, and I certainly have nothing against Hunt’s. (Honestly, when I’m buying ketchup, I just get the store brand.) I just find the whole thing a bit of an eyebrow-raiser.

(Update: Reader/commenter Jack O’Connor points out that the Chiefs are owned by the Hunt family, so that’s a nice bit of kismet.)

Meanwhile, there are some potential uni-related implications here: Now that Mahomes is an official ketchup spokesman, will the Chiefs start referring to their mono-red look as the “ketchup uniform”? Will they start wearing it more often? That would be a drag, on several different levels.

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A story about the Caps and a non-Caps cap: The Washington Post has a great article about a Capitals fan named Ken Brasington, who recently attended a Cap/Hurricanes game in which Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick. Although the game was in Raleigh, there were lots of Caps fans in attendance, and they began tossing their caps on the ice. One of them grabbed Brasington’s cap off his head and tossed it, and it ended up on the ice.

Brasington was upset, because he’d worn that cap — a battered Washington Nationals model — in over 30 countries while working as a government contractor and while serving in the Marines. It was his trusty sidekick, his good luck charm. He figured he’d never see it again, but thanks to some help from the Hurricanes’ staff and the Post’s Caps beat reporter, he was able to get it back. Nice story.

I’ve been to my share of NHL games over the years, but I’m not sure I’ve ever attended a game that featured a hat trick. Is it common for fans to grab and toss hats off of other people’s heads? That seems way out of line, no?

(My thanks to Tom Turner and William Yurasko for this one.)

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ESPN farewell tour, continued: In case you missed it yesterday afternoon, media/business writer Jacob Feldman had a nice piece about my impending departure from ESPN and the future of Uni Watch. It’s the sub-lede, about a third of the way down, on this page. (This follows the earlier Washington Post piece that I linked to in yesterday morning’s entry.)

The SI piece includes a very nice statement from ESPN, which I appreciate. As I’ve said all along, I have no gripes with them. It’s been a fun ride, and I’m grateful for 14-plus years of good times.

Meanwhile, people are still discovering Tuesday’s post, in which I announced the ESPN news. The outpouring of support has been tremendous — my thanks to everyone who’s sent encouraging emails and tweets (some of the responses have been extremely heartfelt and moving, including one from a reader who says Uni Watch literally, if inadvertently, saved his life!), and über-bonus thanks to those who’ve made donations to help support the site during this difficult period. I appreciate all of this more than I can possibly express, and I’ll do my best to live up to the faith you’re showing in me.

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Click to enlarge

Some Thoughts on Clippers (not the NBA team): When I was getting ready to move in with the Tugboat Captain a few months ago, she encouraged me to toss out my nail clipper, which was old and a little gnarly, and just use hers. What I hadn’t counted on was that her clipper (shown above right) had a straight clipping edge, which I wasn’t used to. I hated it — the straight edge made it impossible to get a nice curvature on the ends of my nails. Instead of getting a curved line, I was piecing together lot of straight lines to simulate a curve, like this:

Very unsatisfying! I was about to go out and buy a new clipper when I was looking in one of our bathroom drawers and found a second clipper — this one with a curved edge (above left). Ah, sweet relief. So much better!

The author Nicholson Baker (whose debut novel, The Mezzanine, is a huge influence on my work and highly recommended to all Uni Watch readers) once wrote an admirably obsessive New Yorker treatise about nail clippers. Yet the article, despite being a near-heroic tour de force (it includes such gems as “The market for clippers is apparently unsaturable” and “We can say with some certainty (and sadness) that Nabakov did not use nail clippers”), contains not a single reference to the crucial distinction between straight-edged clippers and curved-edged clippers — a grievous editorial oversight. The straight-vs.-curved dichotomy seems like one of life’s great divides, much like lefties vs. righties, dog people vs. cat people, or bowlers vs. golfers, no?

I realize everyone’s nails are different and that some people, for whatever inexplicable reasons, may prefer the straight-edged style. But me, I’ll take the curved edge every time. I’m not sure when it was developed (again, why did Baker’s manifesto not address this?), but it surely counts among the great design advances of the last century, and deserves more attention than it’s heretofore received.

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The Ticker
By Yianni Varonis

Baseball News: Pirates P Trevor Williams donated a few of his autographed jerseys to help raise money for underserved communities in Kenya. In return, he received this jersey handcrafted by a Kenyan tailor (from Joseph Matlock). … Since it’s almost Christmas, it’s worth sharing this 1955 Dodgers team-issued Christmas card featuring a drawing of the World Series ring the organization won that year (from @BSmile). … The Yakult Swallows, who’ll playing their 50th season next year, are asking fans to help choose which throwback the team should wear next year for the occasion (from Jeremy Brahm).

Football News: From Phil: The Browns will break out the mono-brown Rash for their final home game of the season. … Also from Phil: You might already know that Notre Dame’s berth in this year’s college football playoff marks the first time an Under Armor-outfitted team will participate in the tournament. You can read about the team’s new uniform template here. … This video gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at Oregon’s amazing equipment facility (from Griffin Smith). … Check out the floral-themed uniforms players will wear at one of this year’s high school all-star games in Orlando, Fl. More information here (from Bennett D. Bennett). … Malakoff High School in Texas is wearing a strip of orange tape through its helmet logo as a memorial for a player’s grandfather, who recently passed away. The team also has two other helmet memorials that aren’t visible in that photo. Additional info here (from John Vittas and Matt Stepp). … Speaking of Texas high schools, Grandview ISD’s team is called the Zebras. They use a Bengals-style helmet and run onto the field through an inflatable angry zebra (from James Gilbert, Chris Mycoskie, and @sykotyk).

Hockey News: We mentioned yesterday that the Hurricanes will wear Whalers throwbacks on Sunday. To commemorate the occasion, the franchise’s first equipment manager from 1972 was even given his own sweater (from Jerry Wolper). … How cool is this? Canucks G Anders Nilsson is wearing pads modeled after the gear he wore as a teenager (from Wade Heidt). … The Tulsa Oilers, a Blues affiliate from the East Coast Hockey League, will wear these very attractive throwbacks celebrating the 90th birthday of the first Oilers team. Unfortunately, it appears the on-ice version will be ruined with advertisements (from Joey Jo Jo Jr). … The Canucks changed the ads on the boards in between periods last night. … Check out the huge front numbers worn by the Edmonton Flyers (from Wafflebored).

NBA News: From Phil: Here’s a background story on the development and release of the Timberwolves’ Prince-inspired uniforms. … In this podcast you can listen to the Celtics’ VP of Business Development discuss the design process of the team’s City and Earned uniforms (from Mike Sullivan). … In partnership with a local Goodwill chapter, the Wisconsin Herd, the Bucks’ D League affiliate, will wear ugly Christmas sweater-themed uniforms and auction them off for charity.

College Hoops News: Duke wore alternate home uniforms last night (from Michael Stein). … Ahead of its game vs. North Carolina, Kentucky players will wear a new set of custom-designed shoes (from Josh Hinton). … This is amazing: when NC State HC Kevin Keatts was a player at DIII Ferrum, he and his teammates were photographed in full-basketball uniform, on horseback, wearing equestrian helmets.

Soccer News: Scottish club Celtic signed MF Callum McGregor to a new deal that runs through 2023 and released this photograph of him with a commemorative jersey — with the front ad moved to the back — to mark the occasion (from Ed Zelaski). … Dynamo FC Saint Cloud, of the Minnesota Amateur Soccer League, is letting fans vote via Twitter on its next uniform. … New number fonts for Italian Serie A teams (from Jeremy Brahm).

Grab Bag: is out with its annual awards for the year’s best new logos. Paul was on the panel of judges. … Here’s one site’s opinion of the best and worst uniforms from the T20 Blast, a cricket league in England and Wales (from Jim Vilk). … This is unbelievable if true, but according to a Chicago photographer, a candidate for Chicago mayor used the backdrop of the New York skyline in his campaign ad (from Michael Brighton). … Mount Holyoke, a college for women, has decided not to change its logo after a new proposed design was criticized for depicting the Venus symbol — for “female” — to the perceived exclusion of transgender students. … As we approach the New Year, here are the interior design trends that are coming and going in 2019. … The new Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind., had a sneak-preview opening (from Rob Lowe).

Comments (73)

    Ah…, nail clippers. I never cared much for the curved cut. I actually prefer the scissors on the Swiss Army knife. Yes, a series of straight cuts but then you just smooth things out with the file. And yes, the knurled file on the SAK is far superior to the file on any clippers that I have ever used. That’s my two cents.

    I thought everyone knew the small curved one was for fingers, and the larger straight one was for toes.

    I always thought the straight edged clippers we’re for fishing tackle boxes, they work great for trimming lightweight lines, especially after tying knots.

    Paul and other nail clipping enthusiasts:
    Check out this Minnesota man’s invention. Would love to hear some reviews. Does it work on toes?

    Ever since I’ve had my own nail clippers (my grandparents got me a travel-suitable grooming kit when I was maybe 16 or 17), I’ve used the small ones for all nail trimming. I think I prefer them because they seem like they could be more precise. When we were kids, though, we’d trim our nails using some cosmetic/beauty scissors like these (never had clippers around, that I can recall, which is weird because they certainly seem safer for kids to use by themselves):

    My fingers are pretty big. The small curved one just never did it for me so thats why I go with the SAK. For toes, I use one of those clippers that look like a diagonal plier. They work great.

    The Chief’s red uni is one of, if not the only mono uniform that looks good to me.

    Also, put me solidly in the curved nail clipper column. I have a large one for feet, and a smaller one for hands.

    Two hockey realted items:

    I have been a NY Rangers season ticket holder for 45 years and have never seen anyone throw someone elses hat on the ice. However. in March 1983 the Rangers had a an unannounced hat giveaway promoting Winston cigarettes and Mark Pavelich scored a team record five goals. By the time of the fifth goal, fans were passing these ugly monstrosities down to the ice.

    Also, the Montreal Canadiens, for years, change the ads on the boards between periods. I guess it increases revenue as you get three advertisers per game

    Further to the ticker item, Vancouver Canucks changing ads on the boards between periods has been happening for some time. Not sure when it became regular practice, but they were definitely doing it last year.

    Same in Toronto, I will say I only became aware of the practice when I attended a game, i.e. never noticed the change while watching a game on TV.

    I think the change might just be on the side that you cannot see during game action on TV from the main camera. I’ll have to pay closer attention in future.

    No, they change on the tv side (at least in TO), in fact it’s the non-tv side I don’t think they bother with.

    A pretty good indication of how little attention I pay to Board ads, that I’ve never noticed a mid-game change.

    As a random rant:God I hate those ads they put on the corner ice, most are barely legible.

    I’d always heard that curved edge clippers were for fingernails and straight edge were for toenails. Anyone else heard this or did I make it up?

    IIRC it’s how I saw them packaged years ago. prob haven’t bought either one in over 30 yrs though

    I see the above comment now as well, so apparently this is a widely believed misconception. Incidentally, I once created a Facebook post – a photo of my foot as I trimmed my nails with the simple comment “Toenail trimmin.” It was my most liked post of the year. Not sure if that says more about Facebook, public interest in nails, or the mundanity of my life.

    The doctor in the ER who was treating my ingrown toenail told me to always just cut straight across the toenail. The straight edged clippers are perfect for that.

    Not a fan of either catsup or ketchup, but I liked the joke in the song “If I Had a Million Dollars” about getting the finest Dijon catsup.

    Fancy ketchups are a trend right now, and every time I see a new variety in the grocery store I experience a frisson of hope that it will finally be Dijon ketchup.

    I’m a Heinz guy. I just prefer the taste. Red Gold is pretty good too – My grandparents always bought Brook’s Ketchup [it’s tangy] and as a kid I hated it, but now if I ever see it I think of them… as for the all red uniforms? Um, no thanks.

    I was on yesterday and when I saw the headline about the Hunt’s deal the first thing I thought was “Ugh, gonna be seeing more of the mono red!”

    On a side note, I travel a lot for my job. Part of that includes traveling to food packaging plants. Once you’ve seen the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of some of these facilities it certainly helps you make decisions on which brands to buy and which brands to stay away from. It gives you a whole new perspective.

    I don’t suppose you’d care to give a few examples of brand names to avoid? I’d certainly appreciate the heads-up…

    Nah. Feel free to elaborate. You could use names like DcMonalds or Potlechip for example, if you don’t want to name names…

    I’m curious if Heinz already being the title advertiser for Pittsburgh’s stadium made them less inclined to ink Mahomes to an endorsement deal if his agent approached them and Hunt’s, or if only Hunt’s approached Mahomes and the issue of deciding whether or not to endorse another brand is moot.

    Point number B, I never knew of straight cutting nail clippers.

    I’m curious if Heinz already being the title advertiser for Pittsburgh’s stadium made them less inclined to ink Mahomes to an endorsement deal

    Well, it didn’t stop them from making that “free ketchup for life” offer.

    Yeah, I was also thinking about the connection between Heinz and the Steelers, and wondered if that was a factor at all.

    The Ravens dropped Heinz products at their stadium. Most thought it was because the Steelers play at Heinz field. It was actually a deal with a local product (McCormick/French’s). But who had ever know that French’s makes ketchup.

    One theory: perhaps Mahomes signed with Hunt’s because he took some offense to Heinz attempting to capitalize on his name without compensating him with their “free ketchup for life” offer that required him to throw more TD passes than anyone in history?

    Also: the Chiefs need to burn those red clown pants.


    Cut straight across: “The nails shouldn’t dig down on the sides,” advises Mauser. Guide the clippers straight across the nail of each toe and avoid cutting nails into a curved shape.

    Use appropriate toenail clippers. These larger clippers are meant for larger nails, and will be easier to cut toenails with than fingernail clippers. Keep clippers and any other tools you use on your toes disinfected (cleaning them with rubbing alcohol before and after using them will do the trick).

    I’m almost *never* one to buy (let alone offer praises for) those “As Seen on TV” products, but the one I’ve bought over the past 20 years that not only works great, but I’d recommend, is link.

    Works great, the blades have remained sharp (I don’t use the light or the magnifier, tho those gimmicks actually work too) and I’d actually give it a recommendation (you can find these in like CVS’ and Walgreens and for the city-folk, Duane Reade too).

    Just my $.02

    The Micro Touch safety razor is a great “As Seen on TV” product. Old fashioned, single blade safety razors [when used correctly] are still better than any 3, 4 or 5 blade nonsense.

    Two things: 1: doesn’t it seem odd that UK’s shoes say Wildcats on the left and Kentucky on the right? Shouldn’t it be the other way? 2: As an earlier person commented, it might be strange for Patty to be associated with Heinz considering their affiliation with the Steelers. Maybe Heinz backed off when this was realized. The free ketchup for life might have been thought up and published before someone thought about the implications. It is super lame that would play a role but just a thought.

    Honest to goodness, I’ve never seen a flat-ended nail clipper before. I’ve also never lived outside the Northwest. Is it an East Coast thing, maybe?

    Same here, Western Canada. I’ve owned literally dozens of nail clippers in my life and never even seen a flat-ended one before.

    Re: changing ads on hockey boards.
    The practice of manually changing ads seems archaic. Why not use LED panels that could change similar to the ad ribbons on the facade of the arenas? Or even the old rotating signs that NBA scorers’ tables used as far back as the late 80’s?

    The Ottawa Senators have done this for a while.

    You can see the two gray sections close to the players benches in this photo


    Here’s one lit up with an ad


    I suspect they don’t like using them because (unlike the NBA) the boards are in play and the panels that cover the ads play differently than ordinary boards. Its important that the boards be uniform, especially around the nets.

    I think what you’re more likely to see is virtual ads on the boards, visible only on TV.


    Let us not forget… “W: America’s Ketchup.” It came out during the GWBush era in response to the whole Freedom Fries thing as well as the fact that John Kerry’s wife had connections to the Heinz family, and… y’know what? We really should forget that one. link

    I’ve been to a ton of college and NHL hockey games and seen a few hat tricks. Fortunately, I haven’t ever seen anyone grab and throw someone else’s hat. Seems like a jerk move. Although I’ve long had a fear of someone doing that to me when I’m wearing a new hat or a hat with sentimental value that I don’t want to throw.

    HA! Funny you mention this because I went to an Islanders (and I want to say Kings) game like 30 years ago with a buddy who was a Rangers fan, and he wore a Rags cap to the game (yeah, I know…d-bag). I forget who it was (maybe Pierre Turgeon?), but one of the Isles score a hat trick and I tried to grab his cap and toss it to the ice, but he resisted (pretty vigorously, too). Told him he deserved it, wearing a Rangers cap to an Isles (and not Isles/Rangers) game.

    This little memory also reminds me we’ve been tossing caps on the ice after a hat trick for a long time…

    As a native of Pittsburgh, I have an allegiance to Heinz…BUT…once my brother in Toledo introduced us to Tony Packo’s “Sweet Hot Ketchup”, thee was no turning back. (Klinger on MASH would receive care packages from Tony Packo’s from his parents..the idea was created by Jamie Farr, a Toledo native who also wore a Toledo Mudhens jersey on the show..)When my daughter-in-law in Berlin was late in her pregnancy, she insisted on me bringing her a half case…when the order didn’t arrive and I was ready to leave for Berlin, I called Packo’s, told them the story and they shipped me a free half case over night to take to my daughter-in-law…

    Keep good care of and be sure to cut your toenails correctly. When I was in high school I had a swimming accident that lead to a toenail tearing off at an odd angle. It grew back ingrown, got infected and lead to, two separate out patient surgeries. To this day I’ve never experienced pain like that. I could have bent steel when the doctor was shoving needles into my big toe. The shard of nail he dug out of my big toe was as sharp as a knife.

    To paraphrase Danny Vermin, you shouldn’t take my hat. Some kid took my hat once…*once.*
    (I didn’t rub him out or anything like that; just pushed him over a fence)
    (And I was a kid when I did that)
    You want to throw your own hat on the ice, fine, but let me decide if I want to do the same. I may not resort to physical retaliation these days but I still wouldn’t mess with my head if I were you.

    (Honestly, when I’m buying ketchup, I just get the store brand.)
    I’ll get any brand that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup even if it means paying a little extra. If it’s a lot extra I’ll do without until I find a sale.

    With Mahomes having mentioned Whataburger’s ketchup (their spicy ketchup is so loved that a Texas candidate for U.S. Senate this past election effectively copied the label for his campaign signs), it is too bad that they did not sign him to be their spokesperson.


    As a french fry aficionado, without a doubt Heinz is superior to Hunt’s ketchup, and certainly more enjoyable than generic brands. I don’t like to cape up for companies or products, but I truly believe there’s a noticeable difference between the options. I’m not a good enough food critic to explain why, but this opinion is one of the few in the food world that I’m sure of.

    There’s a very good (and lengthy) chapter in ketchup in Gladwell’s novel “What the Dog Saw”. Highly recommended.

    Agreed it’s a great book, but (1) it’s not a novel, and (2) Paul referenced the Gladwell piece and even provided a link.

    I would consider it totally jerky to throw _someone else’s_ hat on to the ice after a hat trick. To that end, though, I NEVER wear a hat with any real sentimental value to a hockey game. If I’ve got a hat on my head, it’s one I can live without, just in case.

    Have you had any experience with this, personally? As a hat guy that loves going to hockey games, that thought has never even entered into my mind, until reading this entry

    Am I the only person who thinks this discussion about finger and toenail clipping is borderline disgusting? What’s next, toilet paper folding methods?

    Growing up a Browns fan, the only ketchup we kept in the house was Hunt’s. My dad refused to buy Heinz solely because of its Pittsburgh roots (and Heinz Field).

    I suppose I’m in the extreme minority when I say I don’t care for plain ketchup at all? If it comes on a burger, I’ll eat it, but I usually pass when I’m preparing my own burgers and/or fries. I actually prefer horseradish sauce for fries, and regularly whip up a mixture involving that, mayo, a little ketchup, and seasoned salt for all-purpose use.

    Hopefully I’m not in the minority when I say that to put it on steak is sacrilegious and unforgivable.

    Love, love, LOVE Nicholson Baker, but not everybody can read his stuff. Fiction with footnotes that run across multiple pages is awfully tough to get used to. So worth the effort, though.

    The Mount Holyoke article in the ticker is proof that the apocalypse is upon us. That is the epitome of PC culture run-amok. Why would it matter if a WOMEN ONLY college has a women themed logo? If a person identifies as a gender other than woman, wouldn’t they therefore be precluded from attending a women only college? Conversely, why would a person who doesn’t consider themselves a woman want to attend a women only college in the first place?
    I understand I’m taking this very literally. I don’t mean to come across as insensitive. What anybody else chooses to do is none of my business. I just thought it seemed like a contradiction of terms. It would be like a basketball team not wanting to have a basketball in their logo for fear of offending hockey players. It makes no sense.

    It’s been about five years now that Mount Holyoke has admitted transgender and non-binary students.

    Chiming in on nail clippers and hat tricks.

    Clippers: we always grew up that the larger, flat was for toenails, and the smaller, curved for fingernails.

    Hat Tricks: funny you mention hat tricks. No one has ever ripped my hat off me. However the seats I sit in are behind the goal and there is no way I’d get one over the screen anyway. However, I recently attended a game where the giveaway was a hat. As soon as the hat trick happened I threw that bad boy (and it wasn’t a bad freebie). It probably made it all of five rows but it was just being part of it that was cool because I’d never actually throw one of my own hats.

    Someone behind me threw the same hat and it hit me in the back and feel on my seat. I took that one, used some Lysol on it (just in case) and had my cake and ate it too!

    If I don’t know you and you want to grab my hat, then you’re a jerk who deserves a punch in the face (not that I’d actually do it – I’d probably just go complain to security). If you’re actually with me at the game as a companion, you’d better damn well ask first!

    That said, I usually don’t wear hats to hockey games. The only specific time I remember wearing a hat is in 2002, when I made the trip to Pittsburgh to see the Red Wings play the Penguins at the Igloo. I had a black New Era 5950 cap with the robopenguin, juxtaposed against my black throwback skating penguin jersey. The Wings won the game 2-1, though, so no hat trick there.

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