Monday, August 11, 2008

Don't Mess with my HP Sauce

Last night while putting away the ketchup, relish, and mustard away, I noticed that my bottle of HP Sauce was almost empty. I love the tangy and vinegar taste of HP Sauce and have since I was first introduced to it back in the middle 70s when my grandmother would bring home a bottle for my family every spring after visiting family in England and Wales.Since I put HP on steak, burgers, baked potatoes, pork chops and basically anything else that strikes my fancy, I always have a back up bottle.

After tipping the other bottle over so all the brown sauce goodness would settle to the top of the bottle, I went to my pantry to pull out the spare so I could combine the two when I noticed a phrase that instills fear into the heart of any one who loves a food, "New Improved Flavor".

Now, I ask you, why do companies with perfectly good products feel the need to tinker with a winning formula. Didn't anyone in the food industry learn anything from New Coke?

Wondering what on God's Green Earth could be done to improve what I think is already the perfect steak sauce, I pulled out the bottle from the fridge and sat down to compare the ingredients. Which is what led me to discover the bottle I had in the fridge was an English version of HP Sauce carrying the Queen's warrant, even though it was made in the Netherlands, and the bottle I had in the pantry, was made right here in the good Ole USA.

WHAT?! It was bad enough when Heinz decided that the brown sauce served continuously for over 100 years in the House of Parliament, thus HP Sauce, was now not even made in the UK but they also were producing a fake version for the US masquerading as the "real thing" in British food aisles all over America.

Further examination of the ingredients revealed the following:

English Version: malt vinegar, tomatoes, molasses, spirit vinegar, glucose syrup, dates, sugar, salt, flour, tamarind extract, spices, onion extract

American Version: water, vinegar, dates, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, tomato paste, modified food starch, salt, orange juice concentrate, onions, spices, tamarind concentrate, apple juice concentrate, garlic, chili peppers, mustard flour

Not even close! The only two ingredients these two sauces share is salt and tamarind. Obviously, the Americanized version has been dumbed down for the must be sweet palate of my fellow countryman not to mention I'm sure the cost of juice concentrate is much cheaper than molasses, malt vinegar, and dates.

Tonight, I sourced online from a British food retailer, what I hope is the real deal HP Sauce and resigned to the back of the pantry the impostor sauce.