What Is HP Sauce?

Have you ever looked at your food and wished that you could somehow make it more brown? Then you may be a fancy British lad. One of the most popular condiments in the United Kingdom is brown sauce. And the king of brown sauce is HP! But what is HP Sauce? What is in HP brown sauce? What does HP sauce taste like? What does HP stand for in HP sauce? What is HP Sauce used for? Let’s get some answers!

What is HP Sauce?

HP Sauce is an English brown sauce invented by Frederick Gibson Garton in 1895. Brown sauce was already a common British condiment at the time. It was usually a peppery sauce with a little sweetness or some tartness. And it was brown. Another common brown sauce is Worcestershire

Brown sauce was the go-to sauce when you needed to mask the flavor of not-so-fresh food. The story goes that Frederick Gibson Garton was a grocer in Nottingham who was given a brown sauce recipe by one of his suppliers in India. The sauce became a hit, but not enough to save Garton from some mounting debts. So, he sold the HP name and recipe in 1899 for just £150. In 2005, Heinz bought the HP brand for £440 million. If only Garton had waited 106 years!

What is in HP brown sauce?

English brown sauces are usually tomato based with malt vinegar, molasses, and various fruits and spices for flavor. The thing that makes HP stand out with its signature tang is tamarind. Yep, HP’s tomato base base is blended with malt vinegar, molasses, glucose-fructose syrup, sugar, dates, cornflour, rye flour, salt, spices, and tamarind. 

What does HP Sauce taste like? What flavor is HP brown sauce? 

HP Sauce has a sweet and salty taste that has a little sourness and sharp tang. HP has been compared to good old A1 steak sauce. And, indeed, they do have similar ingredients. The big difference is A1 is made with raisin paste and HP is made with tamarind. 

What is HP Sauce used for?

HP Sauce was extremely popular when Britain instituted war rationing. If you had some beef or veggies that were just about to spoil and didn’t taste amazing you could just slop some HP onto them and have a decent meal. These days, folks use HP much like you would use ketchup or BBQ sauce. Dip some fries in it, put it on a bacon sandwich, use it on a cheap cut of steak. HP sauce goes great with sausage and breakfast foods like eggs and hash browns. Really you can use it on anything. I use HP Sauce on my worcestershire and make the brownest sauce imaginable.

What does the HP stand for in HP sauce?

So what does the HP in HP Sauce stand for? Horse Power? Hewlett Packard? Or is it the initials to someone’s name like Harrison Pford? No. All of those guesses are wrong and kind of stupid. Shortly after he first began selling his brown sauce, Garton heard that it was being served at the House of Parliament. So he christened his creation HP Sauce, with the HP standing for House of Parliament.

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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