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HP Sauce

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HP Sauce

Is this an icon?


HP Sauce

Reputedly prime minister Harold Wilson’s favourite condiment, HP Sauce is the pride of many an English tea-table. First marketed in 1903, it was the recipe of one FG Garton of Nottingham. Not unprecedentedly in the history of good ideas, its financial potential was lost on its inventor. Garton sold the recipe in order to pay off an outstanding debt to the company from which he bought his malt vinegar, and the rest is history. The HP stands for Houses of Parliament, as depicted on the label, a soubriquet Garton bestowed on the product when he heard that it was being stocked in one of the House of Commons restaurants. Since most modest households lacked the means to undertake the time-consuming process of making chutneys and relishes, HP represented a blow for democracy. Although generally seen gracing the relatively humble company of chips or bacon butties, HP Sauce has an impressively exotic ingredients list that includes dates and tamarind extract. Like all good things, it’s best enjoyed sparingly. Lord Wilson, according to his wife, did have a tendency to “drown everything” in it.

Photo: Maria Gibbs


Your comments

HP sauce is quintessentially English, as at home in the clubs of Mayfair as the greasy spoons of Rotheram. It is the kind of product that makes the French shrug in bewilderment. Strange, tangy and mysterious, an act of national culinary resistance to the pretensions of Foodie Britain.

Andrew Wright

The latest bottle of HP sauce that I have says it is made in SPAIN, yet it still has that most iconic illustration of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament on the label. The label implies it is a British product and therefore is clearly misleading. HP sauce is no longer a British icon, how can it be when it is no longer manufactured here? Heinz foods should be forced to re-label the sauce, perhaps an image of the Barcelona Cathedral would be more appropriate now. Please please remove HP sauce as a British icon, the manufacture of it was moved away from England for reasons of maximum profit for Heinz, so lets stop them misleading the world that it is actually British!
Richard McGee

I am British and live in the Netherlands. We used to bring back several bottles of HP, when we visited Britain, so we were pleased when it became available in our local shops. Unfortunately HP sauce hasn't been able to interest the Dutch customers, so it is no longer available. I am still looking for a sauce that is as good, but thats impossible, is it not??

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I believe rice, peas and jerk chicken is an Icon of England.

Ade Adeluwoye