Icons of England
  • Introduction
  • The Icons
  • Nominations
  • News
  • Learn & Play
  • Your Comments

Orange marmalade

776 of 1160 nominations


Orange marmalade

Is this an icon?


Orange marmalade

When Alice finds herself tumbling down that rabbit-hole on the start of her iconic adventures in Wonderland, (to read more about Alice In Wonderland, click here) she picks up a jar marked ORANGE MARMALADE from a shelf she falls past – “but to her great disappointment it was empty.” And who wouldn’t be disappointed? Orange marmalade has sustained the national breakfast table for an aeon now, an odd feat, you might think, in a climate that can’t grow oranges.

Marmalade’s origins lie in marmelo, a Portuguese quince paste that gave its name more generally to citrus fruit preserves. It was the English who discovered that if you boiled the pulp of oranges with sugar and some of the chopped peel, you didn’t need fruit pectin (traditionally derived from apples) to set it. Marmalade was carried on ocean-going vessels as a specific against scurvy, as well as becoming a favoured provision in the home. Usually made from bitter Seville oranges, it somehow makes more of a fitting first-thing-in-the-morning confection than other preserves.

Great names in marmalade include Robertson’s, Wilkins, and Frank Cooper of Oxford. A tin of Frank Cooper taken on Scott’s expedition to the North Pole in 1911 was opened in 1980, and found to be in excellent condition.


Your comments

Orange Marmelade on salty buttered toast is to me the best thing that can happen in the morning. You can find dozens of different kinds of it only when shopping through an English supermarket. It's just fun to explore them all!

Juliette Sherrard

Orange marmalade was invented in Dundee and only because a lot of oranges came in on a boat and they were damaged so couldn't be sold. They were mashed together as a jam and hey presto we had marmalade.
Dundee Dougie

I know nothing interesting about marmalade except that it goes very well with a slice of cheese. I have read that sales are "falling off". This is a great pity. Marmalade represents the sunshine that we have not got and links with overseas.
Philip Johnson

View All Comments (6)



I nominate the red pillar box.

Donna Spencer