Heinz Tomato Ketchup


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Ketchup isn't typically at the top of most emergency supply lists, but for one man lost at sea for over three weeks, the condiment proved to be a lifesaver.

Elvis Francois, a 47-year-old man from the island nation of Dominica, was discovered and rescued by the Columbian Navy on Jan. 19 after spending 24 days adrift in his sailboat. In an interview, Francois said the only things he had to eat on the boat were ketchup, garlic powder, and Maggi bouillon cubes. He combined the ingredients with rainwater he collected with a cloth to make a ketchup soup of sorts, which was evidently enough to sustain him while he was stranded at sea. 

While most of the lost-at-sea stories typically start with someone who was actually sailing the high seas, Francois was simply making repairs to his boat near the island of St. Martin in the Netherlands Antilles, where he lives, when strong currents pulled it out to sea. With no proper navigational skill, he was ill-equipped to make his way back to land. Left with only his thoughts and his makeshift, tomato-forward meals, Francois was finally discovered after he signaled to a plane using a mirror. Previously he had attempted to light a fire as a distress signal and had carved "Help" on the hull of his boat.

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“Twenty four days — no land, nobody to talk to. Don’t know what to do, don’t know where you are. It was rough,” Francois said. “At a certain time, I lose hope. I think about my family.” There's no sound bite of him crediting ketchup with his survival, but we know he'll never dip his fries in it the same way ever again. 

After his rescue, Francois was taken to a hospital for a medical evaluation. Once he was cleared, he was handed over to immigration officials to oversee his transport home. 

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