There are just some foods that are synonymous with the UK and British culture.
It is hard to think of a Brit without a cuppa in their hands, or a good old trip to the seaside without fish and chips.
There are just some foods we all agree are British. But, are they?
As part of British Food Fortnight, Wren Kitchens has conducted a new study and found that these quintessentially British foods, drinks and brands don't always have the local roots you expect...
Whether it’s a cup of Earl Grey or a hearty pot of Yorkshire Tea, most of us struggle to make it through the day without
a good cuppa. As a nation, we consume an estimated 165 million cups per day, which totals 60.2 billion over the space
of a year!
But it turns out that tea isn’t actually British at all – we simply don’t have the climate for it. Legend has it that Chinese emperor, Shennong, discovered the much-loved drink almost 5,000 years ago, when some tea leaves blew into a pot of boiling water he was about to drink from. The concoction quickly became an integral part of Chinese medicine, and over the centuries, tea was adopted around the world.
Most of the tea we consume in Britain today doesn’t actually come from China or India, but Mombasa and Kenya!
Fish and chips
Brits simply can’t get enough of fish and chips. Debates have gone on for decades as to what the best accompaniment to
this salty treat is: Michael Jackson apparently liked mushy peas, whilst John Lennon was a ketchup man. But, the real
debate is where fish and chips originally come from. They must be British, right?
Wrong! Fish and chips first hit British shores in the 17th century when Jewish settlers brought the recipe over from Portugal and Spain, and sold them on the streets from huge trays which they hung round their necks.
But there’s a famous feud as to who opened the first official fish and chip shop. Many credit a Jewish immigrant called Joseph Malin as the man who kick-started our national dish in East London during 1860. Others claim a northerner named John Lees was the first, selling his fish and chips from a wooden hut in Lancashire.
Pass the ketchup
Who doesn’t love dousing their chips in Heinz Tomato Ketchup? Since being introduced in 1876, this iconic condiment now
sells an estimated 650 million bottles a year in more than 140 countries.
But, while Heinz may have set the standard, ketchup isn’t actually British. And, if you think it was the Americans who invented it, you’d be wrong.
Modern ketchup’s ancestor was born in 17th century China, where instead of using tomatoes as a base for the sauce, it was made from the brine of pickled fish.
The sauce became a staple at tables across Indonesia and Malaysia, and it wasn’t long before English colonists became hooked, too.
There’s also a whole host of our most treasured British brands that are sadly, no longer British owned. You might want to sit down with a ‘not-so-British brew’ before you digest all of this…
Us sweet-toothed Brits have John Cadbury to thank for introducing us to the dreamy, chocolatey world of Cadbury’s. Founded
in Birmingham in 1824, if there ever was a British institution, it’s got to be Cadbury’s… Right?
Wrong! Cadbury’s was acquired by Swiss drinks manufacturer Schweppes in 1969, who dropped the ‘s’ in 2003 and sold the company in 2007. American-based Kraft Foods bought Cadbury for the paltry sum of £11.5 billion.
Today, The Hershey Company manufactures and distributes Cadbury products across the US. However, the brand still has roots planted deep in Birmingham.
Introduced in 1876, London-born Beefeater Gin is instantly recognisable for its distinctive logo, which refers to the
Yeomen Warders, otherwise known as the ceremonial guards of the Tower of London. Featuring nine essential botanicals,
including liquorice, almonds, and juniper berries, the gin was an instant hit. Still loved for its distinctively robust
flavour, it has won countless awards around the globe.
Despite being steeped in Old London Town history, Beefeater was bought by Paris-based Pernod Ricard in 2005, who immediately invested money into rebranding the popular drink.
However, it’s not all bad news for patriotic gin lovers. Beefeater still has no less than nine distilleries in London, one of which has a visitor centre dedicated to this timeless tipple.
69 years in business and Walkers is still selling crisps by the truckload. Its Leicester-based crisp production plant
is the world’s biggest, and produces a staggering 11 million packets per day! But did you know that after just over 40
years of sales, Walkers was acquired by American-based Frito-Lay (a division of the mighty PepsiCo)?
Borrowing from the iconic Walkers logo, Lay’s Crisps are sold across the US and Europe, and in other global regions under a variety of different names. Wherever you are in the world, now you can satisfy your craving for Walkers!
There are of course certain products that are British through and through. Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) is a European Union definition.
PDO products must be produced, processed and prepared in a specific region using traditional production methods - and we’ve picked some out for you to get clued up on!
Cornish Clotted Cream
In 1998 the term Cornish clotted cream became a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) by European Union directive, as long as the milk is produced in Cornwall and the minimum fat content is 55%.
Stilton Cheese (Blue and White)
Only cheese produced in the three counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire, and made using pasteurised local milk may be called "Stilton". The manufacturers of Stilton cheese in these counties applied for and received PDO in 1996.
Isle of Man Queenies
The Isle of Man in the British Isles is famous for the queen scallop, or “Manx queenie” is it’s referred to by locals. Isle of Man Queenies have been awarded the PDO stamp in 2012.
Jersey Royal Potatoes
The Jersey Royal is a type of potato grown in Jersey which has a PDO. The potatoes are of the variety known as International Kidney and are typically grown as a new potato.
The UK has a total of 65 products with protected status, which is really quite low when you consider those in Portugal (125 protected status products), France (217) and Italy (267).