HP Sauce

HP Sauce is a staple to be found in most British kitchens, it’s a dark brown, sweet/spicy ketchup that is usually served with a full English Breakfast.  

HP Sauce was devised by Frederick Gibson Garton, a grocer from Nottingham ( a city in the East Midlands, about 110 miles north of London and probably best associated with the legend of Robin Hood).

Garton heard that the popularity of the sauce had spread as far south as the Houses of Parliament in London, so in 1896 he registered the brand name H.P. Sauce – H.P. standing for Houses of Parliament – although he might properly have called in PW sauce for the Houses of Parliament are actually the Palace of Westminster. 

The label on a bottle of HP Sauce still bears the image of the Houses of Parliament.

Unfortunately Frederick Gibson’s financial acumen was less than his culinary skills and he fell in to arrears with a mister Edwin Samson Moor who owned the Midlands Vinegar Company, one of his suppliers.  Garton sold the recipe for “Garton’s HP Sauce” to Edwin Moor for the princely sum of £150. A few years later, after tweaking Garton’s original recipe, Moor launched HP Sauce nationally in 1903.

The main ingredients of HP Sauce are :

  • Malt Vinegar (from barley)
  • Tomatoes
  • Molasses
  • Spirit Vinegar
  • Glucose-Fructose Syrup
  • Dates
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Modified Maize Starch
  • Rye Flour
  • Tamarind Extract
  • Spices
  • Onion Extract.

As such it is suitable for vegetarians and has been classed as Halal.

There IS a version of HP Sauce manufactured for consumption in the United States (made by Lea & Perrins in New Jersey) but by all accounts it’s sweeter and less spicy that its British namesake.

Over the years the HP brand has been owned by Danone and more recently by Heinz, who announced that they were moving production to a plant in Holland. Despite protests and questions in Parliament they went ahead with their plans in 2006 and in 2007 the HP Sauce factory in Birmingham was demolished.  

Over 27 million bottles of HP Sauce are sold in the UK each year.