Is Your Sauce Brown Or Red?

When it comes to bacon butties, burger or fries, what's your preference? It's a universal topic, embraced by celebrities and most certainly our fellow countrymen.

I grew up with a selection of sauces, chutneys and pickles in the house. I wouldn’t say my mother’s cooking was bland (then again, I might), but a dollop of something to zest-up the family meals was a definite bonus on the flavour front. HP brown sauce was the ultimate sauce of preference followed closely by Heinz tomato ketchup.

The tangy HP sauce is a vinegar-based sauce blended with molasses fruits and spices and is great for “jujjing up” pies, meats, stews and sandwiches. Heinz declares that the recipe is a closely guarded secret written in code with only a select group of people in the know. The UK branded version of this sauce has a unique flavour and is far superior on the taste front compared to the sanctioned overseas impostors.

HP sauce started its life in 1875 in Aston in the Midlands. Rooted in vinegar and pickles, Mr Edwin Samson Moore was looking for another product to extend his condiment line, and had ambitions to develop a popular sauce that would become a household name. Synchrodestiny was in evidence when Mr Moore went debt collecting in Nottingham on one particular day. Grocer, FG Garton, was busily brewing a batch of his “Garton’s HP Sauce” when Edwin dropped in to see him. He was told the initials HP stood for Houses of Parliament as it was claimed that a bottle of the sauce was once seen gracing a table at the Palace of Westminster. Ever the astute businessman, Moore offered to wipe Garton’s £150 debt slate clean in return for his sauce recipe and tenuous back-story.

After refining the recipe and ensuring his market was ready for a new product launch, Edwin Moore capitalized on the Westminster connection and presented his new sauce in a symbolic tower-like bottle, sporting an illustration of Houses of Parliament - great marketing for the late 19th century. HP brown sauce still continues to spice up our savouries and has become one of our national treasures (even though it’s currently made in the Netherlands).

I actually favour the Harry Palmer (HP) racehorse version of the sauce history (not The Ipcress File bloke) as it seems more derring-do and symbolic of a racy tasting sauce. (Harry was another chap “in arrears” further back in the Garton/Moore debt chain). Whatever the legend, it’s still a provocative sauce now available in a few other flavours to titivate a range of palates and culinary dishes.

And then we have Heinz tomato ketchup - catchup, katsup, call it what you will - but whatever you want to name it, more than 650 million bottles of the stuff are sold around the world in more than 140 countries with annual sales of more than $1.5 billion. It’s an iconic American sauce found in millions of homes, diners and restaurants across America (make that the world).

Henry J Heinz had already entered the sauce market with bottled grated horseradish. He went on to acquire an already existing tomato based sauce invented by Jonas Yerkes, which was concocted from ingredients sourced from tomato canning waste, sugar and vinegar. Henry Heinz refined the recipe, and in 1876 launched the thick rich tasting tomato sauce that is enjoyed by many of us today.

A blob or squirt of the red goo adds instant interest and allure to a variety of dishes consumed at any mealtime by a worldwide population. Heinz claims it monitors its ketchup to ensure it has a regulatory 0.028mph viscosity flow when tipped out of its glass bottle, but not on the morning I used it at an in-house breakfast meeting in LA. It served up a high-speed exit rating that would have impressed any kid with a water squirter. I discovered that some inconsiderate twit had loosened the top when I gave it a vigorous shake. I spent the rest of the day picking off red congealed lumps welded to my body and smelling like a piquant vagrant. (Maybe I should have just tapped the ‘57’ spot on the bottleneck because apparently it makes the sauce flow out more easily.)

So given the international victual enhancing appeal of ketchup and HP sauce, which would you rather add to your morning bacon buttie? Brown or red?

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