Why is it so hard to classify sauces, dips, and condiments?

In things-you’ve-never-thought-about-but-will-now-think-about-obsessively news: Is BBQ sauce actually a sauce, or is it a condiment? What about soy sauce? What constitutes a dip? Are dips always creamy? These are the hard-hitting questions posed by Refinery29 in its “Very Serious Investigation” into the differences between sauces, dips, and condiments. The piece offers a compelling argument known as Nelson’s Spoon Theory (named after a senior editor’s friend), which “posits that if you use a spoon to scoop the substance in question, then it is not a condiment, but is either a sauce or a dip.” This theory is disrupted by mayonnaise, and now that you’re thinking about it you’ll find that these seemingly basic categories are actually quite complicated. For example, more than two decades ago salsa overtook ketchup as America’s most popular condiment, but isn’t salsa a sauce? The world may never know.

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