World’s Largest Catsup, or Ketchup Bottle: Collinsville, Illinois

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Aside from being a town that boasts its Route 66 and Old National Road (US 40) history, Collinsville, Illinois (just east of St. Louis) has one more, very large, claim to fame: the World’s Largest Ketchup, or Catsup Bottle.

From downtown Collinsville, take IL Rte. 159 (Morrison Avenue) south.  At first, you’ll wonder where a giant ketchup bottle could be hiding, and then it magically appears directly in front of you, just before you drop down a small hill.

The old Brooks Catsup Bottle stands amid some old industrial buildings.  You can, however, access the base of the tower, allowing the chance to stand directly under the world’s largest ketchup bottle.

And that’s it.  You fought through all that traffic just to see a catsup bottle.  There’s not a lot more to do here, than stare at the bottle-shaped water tower.

So was it worth it? Of course it was.

There’s no gift shop at the base, although catsupbottle.com reports souvenirs are available downtown, at Ashmann’s Pharmacy.

The Brooks Catsup Bottle can hold 100,000 gallons of water (or, I suppose, ketchup). It’s 175 feet tall, and was built in 1949. Like most great historic icons, it was once at risk of demolition, but was saved by concerned catsup lovers in 1995, and repainted.

Catsupbottle.com addresses the all-important question, “Is there a difference between Catsup and Ketchup?”  The answer is, just a few letters.  Catsup and Ketchup are the same thing, only spelled differently.  “Catsup” has fallen out of favor as the preferred spelling in recent decades, due in part to the popularity of Heinz, which spells its product with a “K”.

As far as I can tell, Rte. 159 was never an alignment of Old Route 66, so we can’t say that the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle is truly a Route 66 attraction.  For a while, though, one alignment of Route 66 did run through Collinsville, so the Mother Road was nearby.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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