10 iconic ‘British’ brands that aren’t even British anymore

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With the news that the Yanks have been messing with our Cadbury Creme Eggs,  it might be interesting to take a look at other iconic British brands now in foreign hands.

Here is a list of 10 food and drink products familiar to UK shoppers, dating from as far back as 1778 but now owned by Johnny Foreigner.

1. Sarson’s Malt Vinegar

There’s nothing quite as British as fish and chips. But unfortunately that vinegar you shake on it isn’t quite so British anymore. Store cupboard staple and the UK’s number one vinegar brand Sarson’s wassold off to the Japanese Mizkan Group in 2005.

Created in Shoreditch, London, by Thomas Sarson, the popular vinegar has been traditionally brewed in vats since 1794. Those vats are just now in Japan.

2. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce

U.S. company Heinz has owned the Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce brand since 2005. This is ironic, considering it’s doubtful Americans can pronounce it properly.

It is at least still produced in Worcester, rather than Heinz’s native Pennysylvania-shire.

Devised by Worcester chemists John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins to please a nobleman, the sauce has a distinctive flavour. The recipe has been a closely guarded secret since the 1830s, and is actually slightly different in the States, although both versions contain anchovies.

In the ad campaign chosen to highlight, the brand recommends adding Lea & Perrins to traditional British cuisine, to create new twists on old classics such as “bangers and splash” and “splish and chips.”

3. Boddingtons Draught Bitter

Boddingtons Draught Bitter (“The Cream of Manchester”) is as Mancunian as Coronation Street, the Madchester movement and a certain football club, right?

Wrong. Although the brewery was British-owned at the time of the infamous “Do you want a flake with that, love?” ad, it now belongs to a Belgian-Brazilian-American multinational behemoth. Despite history dating back to 1778, production in Manchester stopped in 2005.

4. Beefeater London Dry Gin

Britain built an empire on gin. It’s running in our very veins. There’s not a lot a good gin and tonic can’t cure, from a common cold to a bad day at work. Heck, we practically put it on our cornflakes.

Since 1862 Beefeater London Dry Gin has been proudly made in the UK’s capital. It looks British, thanks to the Yeomen of the Guard on the label. It tastes like gin.

But it’s technically no longer a British brand. French company Pernod Ricard bought it (no doubt just to tick us off) in the 1980s.

However, Beefeater is still made in Kennington, and it just opened quite a snazzy Beefeater Distillerymuseum and visitor’s centre, so it’s kind of all good.

5. Hovis Bread

With Britons once voting the Ridley Scott-directed “Gold Hill” Hovis ad their favourite of all time, you can be sure the brand has a special place in the nation’s heart. So special in fact, the company felt confident to release this heartstring-tugging nostalgia fest of a commercial as a 122-second way to commemorate the company’s 122-year history.

They may as well make the next ad on Mulholland Drive, though, as L.A.-based investment company The Gores Group now owns the majority stake in the bread-maker.

6. Branston Pickle

Every patriotic Brit knows a cheddar sandwich can only be improved with a handsome dollop of Branston Pickle. Created by Crosse & Blackwell in Branston, a suburb of Burton upon Trent, in 1922, generations of Britons have grown up with cheese and pickle sandwiches in their lunch boxes.

Fast forward to 2013 and struggling Premier Foods flogs our nation’s favourite pickled chutney to Japan. Mizkan again. What’s next, we wonder? Some kind of “small chunk” abomination?

There’s nothing particularly British about the advert, apart from Harry Hill’s dulcet tones.

7. Terry’s Chocolate Orange

The Yanks might have snagged Cadbury, but we still have Terry’s Chocolate Orange, right?

Actually, no. That’s also owned by U.S. interests in the form of Mondelez International, an American multinational conglomerate.

Despite Terry’s of York being able to trace its roots back to 1923, Chocolate Oranges have been made in Poland since 2005. They better not mess with the recipe, though, or next Christmas Britain will actually revolt.

You may remember this vintage Terry’s Chocolate Orange campaign. It was on well before Dawn French started scoffing them all.

8. Tetley Tea

Joseph Tetley & Co. was started way back in 1837. The world’s second-largest tea brand is now available in 70 countries, even ones where they put the milk in first.

But it’s not British anymore. It’s owned by Indian giant Tata Global Beverage. Tata bought the company in 2000 in what was then the biggest acquisition in Indian corporate history, after Tetley got into a spot of bother with a shrinking UK market and competition from whippersnapper rivals.

Incidentally, Tetley was the first company to sell tea bags in the UK in the 1950s, hence posh Prunella in the above ad trying to persuade British housewives they don’t need the fuss of tea leaves.

9. HP Brown Sauce

The ultimate condiment for a classic English breakfast or bacon sandwich, HP Brown Sauce is named for the Houses of Parliament and even features the distinctive building on its label.

Created in 1899 by a grocer from Nottingham, the sauce was made in the Midlands from the early 1900s right up until 2007, when the factory at Aston was closed down as new owner Heinz moved production to the Netherlands.

In 2012, an advertising campaign emphasizing the sauce’s Britishness saw a social media backlash. It’s reported that sales of brown sauce of all types dropped 19% in 2014.

This amusingly bad advert from HP Brown Sauce’s golden years shows a family of Brits abroad impressing the natives with the condiment. Maybe if they’d just shut up, it would still be ours.

10. Lyle’s Golden Syrup

The  sweetest has been saved ’til last. Syrup sponge pudding, golden syrup cake, treacle sponge, treacle tart – all these quintessentially British comfort foods have one thing in common: Golden Syrup.

Launched by Abram Lyle in 1881 as “Goldie” syrup, from a sugar refinery on the banks of the Thames in London, the story goes that the sticky stuff was soon selling like the hot cakes it was used to make.

Still available in its delightfully old-fashioned tin – which Guinness World Records confirmed a few years back as the world’s oldest unchanged brand packaging – it’s now owned by another American megacorp, American Sugar Refining, Inc.

source: Mashable UK /Amy-Mae Elliott


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