There’s more to many of our favourite foods that meets the eye.

Few people know the stories behind the ingredients and dishes that have become the nation’s best-loved treats. These are a few of the most surprising food stories.

Marmite was invented by accident. German scientist Justus Liebig discovered brewer’s yeast could be concentrated, bottled and eaten in the late 19th Century. The famous spread became available in 1902.

Joseph Fry made the world’s first chocolate bar in the late 1720s in Bristol.

Mageirocophobia is a recognised phobia. The fear of cooking.

Peach Melba is named after Dame Nellie Melba. After hearing her sing, Chef Auguste Escoffier of the Savoy Hotel was inspired to create the dessert for her.

Fanta was created in Nazi Germany. During World War II, Germany was subject to trade embargoes. Because of this, the head of Coca-Cola Deutschland decided to create a new drink for the German market using “the leftovers of leftovers”. The name comes from the German word for imagination (Fantasie).

Cherry Garcia ice cream is Ben & Jerry’s homage to Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia.

Nutella was created because of rationing. Originally known as pasta gianduja, the hazelnut spread was made in Italy when hazelnuts were used to make rationed chocolate supplies go further.

According to popular legend the Manhattan cocktail was created for a party thrown by Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill’s mother.

The hottest chilli on earth is the Carolina Reaper, which measures a whopping 1,569,300 on the Scoville scale. That’s five hundred times hotter than Tabasco.

The oldest recipe for soup is over 8,000 years old and included meat from sparrow birds.

The English word “soup” comes from the Middle Ages word “sop,” which means a slice of bread over which roast drippings were poured.

Gin became extremely popular in the British colonies due to its use as an additive in concoctions intended to prevent malaria.

The production of alcohol has been traced back at least 12,000 years.

Ice cream was so popular in London in the 19th century that massive ‘ice wells’ were dug in the city. Ice was imported from America, and later from Norway to fill them.

Angostura Bitters is well-known for its unusual label, which sticks up around the neck of the bottles. This is all because of a mistake – when rushing to finish their product for a competition, the Siegert brothers failed to sync up the details. So, the label ended up being too tall for the bottles. A judge recommended they keep the look as their signature packaging, which they did.

Pavlova is named after Anna Pavlova, a Russian ballerina. Both Australia and New Zealand have claimed to be the source of the meringue (“light as Pavlova”) and fruit dessert.

The ’57’ on the Heinz ketchup bottle represents the number of pickle types the company once had.


The Omelette Arnold Bennett, an unfolded omelette with smoked haddock, was invented especially for the writer Arnold Bennett, at the Savoy Hotel.

Frangipane is named after 16th Century Italian man Marquis Muzio Frangipani. He also invented a well-known bitter-almond scented glove perfume, used by Louis XIII.

 

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