With a bit of full disclosure up front, I will admit my only experience that allows me to talk about this subject is having attended a number of BBC Showcase meetings over the years in the UK whereby the answer to everything that dealt with food seemed to be “…just add a bit of brown sauce to it”.
While brown sauce doesn’t just roll off the tongue when one thinks of a condiment designed to make bland food appetizing, it did seem to have potential as it’s a combination of tomatoes, malt vinegar, molasses, dates, tamarind and spices. I will say that British food was quite different during my early days attending BBC Showcase, where this unfamiliar staple called ‘brown sauce’ could have actually done a world of good to British cuisine. Admittedly, today is a totally different story as some of the best culinary dining can be found across the UK without the need for brown sauce of any variety.
That said, it’s been around since the late 1800’s and has always been a hit with British diners so it, obviously, has a legion of loyal users. HP Sauce seems to be suffering the brunt of the recent Government crackdown when it changed it’s recipe to reduce the salt intake from 1.3g of salt per 100g from 2.1g. Imagine changing a recipe that has a 100+ year history and fanbase? Remember the infamous summer of 1985 and New Coke?
The Debate begins
Sauce aficionado, John Northey, from the Isle of Man, said: “Gone is the familiar tang. The sauce seems bland and sickly. They’ve spoiled it and added calories at a time when we’re being warned about obesity.” Heinz, the American company that bought the British staple, disagrees, saying that HP had “benefited” from the firm’s commitment to “reduce salt in line with health targets”.
As the story goes, HP Sauce, or brown sauce, was named after the Houses of Parliment when the original inventor heard it was being used in a restaurant in the Houses of Parliment. To settle the debate, the BBC solicited several MP’s to answer the burning political issue of the day: do they prefer the new or old HP Sauce recipe? Watch below or click here. Anyone want to weigh in on the debate? At least it’s still brown….