Most museums, heritage centres and exhibitions in England are brilliantly…
If a British person goes to a store in Budapest that sells British products, he would surely find HP sauce on the shelves and I am pretty sure, the fact it is available, would melt his heart. HP sauce is one of the very British food products and is a basic item in the majority of the households in the UK.
What is HP sauce?
From consistency point of view, HP sauce is pretty much like a ketchup, but its taste is rather piquant, a bit sour and the vinegar really comes through. No wonder, as one of the main ingredients is malt vinegar, which has a very distinctive taste. The colour of the sauce is brown, hence its nickname “brown sauce”.
What does the HP stand for?
I can recall asking the same question at work, soon after my relocation from Hungry to the UK, but my manager did not have a clue. I could not live without knowing it, so I started to do some investigation. One thing is for sure: the name HP has nothing to do with the printer giant.
Well, Edwin Samson Moore worked in a pickle factory in Portsmouth and later in Cambrian Vinegar Company, but being an ambitious person, he soon started his own business. He persuaded his cousin to invest his own money to the business. Edwin was successful and was able to buy the Birmingham Branch of the Cambrian Vinegar Company and established the Midlands Vinegar Company in 1875. Then he sold his different products mainly to grocers. One of his Customers was Frederik Gibson Garton from Nottingham, who started to produce the HP sauce using Moore’s vinegar. Garton claimed to have seen his sauce to be used in the Houses of Parliament, therefore – very unassumingly – he started to call his sauce HP sauce. This is why the label contains the image of the Houses of Parliament.
Garton owed Marton some money and instead of insisting on getting the sum back, he bought the recipe and the name of the sauce for £150 from Garton. Garton patented the name HP Sauce in 1895 and started to produce it in 1903 and it sold like hot cakes. The Midlands Vinegar Company merged with Lea & Perrin (which produces Worcester sauce) in 1930. The brand then became the product of HP Foods owned by Heinz. Great anger to the British as the production of the HP sauce was transferred to the Netherlands in 2006. An iconic British product to be produced abroad is a sacrilege but hey… that is life.