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Salt, sugar, and ground black pepper corns are commonly placed on Western restaurant tables.

A condiment is a spice, sauce or other food preparation that is added to foods to impart a particular flavor, enhance its flavor,[1] or in some cultures, to complement the dish. The term originally described pickled or preserved foods, but has shifted meaning over time.[2]

Many condiments are available packaged in single-serving Packet (container)s, like mustard or ketchup, particularly when supplied with take-out or fast-food meals. Condiments are usually applied by the diner. Condiments are sometimes added prior to serving, for example a sandwich made with ketchup or mustard. Some condiments are used during cooking to add flavor or texture to the food; barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, marmite are examples.

The term condiment comes from the Latin condimentum, meaning "spice, seasoning, sauce" and from the Latin condere, meaning "preserve, pickle, season".[3]


The exact definition of what is and isn't a condiment varies. Some definitions include spice and herbs, including salt and pepper,[4] using the term interchangeably with seasoning.[5] Others restrict the definition to including only "prepared food compound[s], containing one or more spices", which are added to food after the cooking process, such as mustard, ketchup or mint sauce.[5]


Condiments were known in Ancient Rome, Ancient India, Ancient Greece and Ancient China, and were often used to improve the taste of spoiling food; before food preservation techniques were widespread, pungent spices and condiments were used to make the food more palatable.[6] The Romans made the condiments garum and liquamen by crushing and fermenting in salt with the meat of various fish, leading to a flourishing condiment industry.[3] Apicius, a cookbook based on 4th and 5th century cuisine, contains a section based solely on condiments.[3]

List of condiments[edit]

Main article: List of condiments


The condiment market refers to the marketing and consumer purchase of condiments.

United States[edit]

In the United States, condiment market was valued at USD 5.6 billion in 2010 and is estimated to grow to USD 7 billion by 2015.[7] The condiment market is the second largest in specialty foods behind that of cheese.[7]


See also[edit]

References & sources[edit]


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster: Definition of condiment
  2. ^ Smith, pp. 144–146
  3. ^ a b c Nealon
  4. ^ Collins: Definition Condiment
  5. ^ a b Farrell, p. 291
  6. ^ Farrell, p. 297
  7. ^ a b Sax, David (October 7, 2010). "Spreading the Love". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 9 October 2010.