Oxford and Cambridge are like sauces

MEGGIE FAIRCLOUGH would like to draw your attention to a fascinating parallel.

brown Cambridge ketchup Oxbridge Oxford red sauce unusual comparison

It’s a matter of taste.

The Oxford-Cambridge rivalry informs everything.  Goat races, fit freshers, debating and boat races – you name it.

There is however another epic battle, and one of much greater importance in the grand scheme of things: the red vs brown debate.

Pretty damn inconsequential.

In a new campaign to improve sales, Heinz is pitting these two tabletop enemies against each other, and across the UK, sauce lovers everywhere can vote to determine the nation’s favourite.

At first, I was going to dismiss this as another marketing gimmick, but I noticed a number of suspicious parallels.

Red vs brown … blue vs dark blue.

Let me elaborate.

Oxford was built before Cambridge in 1209, with Cambridge being born from a group of scholars who basically had a bit of a fall out with the townies from Oxford. An easy thing to do.

Ketchup was introduced in 1876; HP was invented in 1895, after a bloke from Nottingham decided to do something a little different.

Cambridge is a more up-to-date version of Oxford – much like HP is the snazzier sauce.

Other sauces proliferated – much like other universities.  They all have their merits.  (Where would be without reggae reggae sauce, Durham, Mayo or Exeter?)  But they wouldn’t have come into existence without the Ivory Towers of the founding fathers.

Either way – like the sauces – both Cambridge and the Other Place are old, but not out of date. The prestige is eternal and they will always be recognised as housing the academically elite.

When it comes to what’s better for you, a 15 gram serving of both ketchup and HP sauce has 18 calories, which would take 3 minutes or so to cycle off.

There are slightly more carbs in HP than Ketchup but I don’t really know what a carb is in the first place, so can’t really make an intellectual comment. There is a hell of a lot of sugar in both sauces, about one fourth of a bottle in ketchup, so neither can be exactly deemed healthy.

A matter of national importance.

In terms of what will clog up your arteries, develop heart disease, or rot your teeth, you can’t really separate the two. Likewise, Oxford and Cambridge are both in general bad for you: too much stress and not enough time.

Both HP and ketchup have their specialties.  Cambridge is considered best if you want to do the sciences – and Oxford for the humanities. Over to more important things, Ketchup is the normal favourite to dunk chips in, and HP to drown a bacon butty.

When it comes down to it though, they’re both pretty darn fabulous and taste good on just about anything. Oxbridge is Heinz – the best of the best, and as Heinz has the highest score over any other food or beverage firm, dominating the ranking tables.

Heinz and Oxbridge are immune to the advances of other institutions trying to usurp their privileged position.

Dark blue vs light blue. Oooh, the tension.

Ketchup and HP use the highest quality ingredients, and the universities have the best lecturers and facilities in the country, so perhaps this is what gets them to the top and keeps them there.

So, forget Cameron and Clegg and vote for something that really matters.