MP’s attack on Sheffield’s favourite sauce

Jim Dowd MP
Jim Dowd MP
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By Molly Lynch

It is the number one item on Sean Bean’s backstage rider, the Arctic Monkeys jet to the UK just to stock up and Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White is even partial to a dab of the spicy stuff.

But it seems the reputation Sheffield’s favourite relish of MP Jim Dowd, who has spoken out in the House of Commons against ‘Henderson’s - who ever they are’.

The representative for Lewisham West and Penge accused the beloved bottled stuff - which has a history stemming back to the start of the 19th century - of copying off Lea and Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce.

In an attack on brands imitating other brands Mr Dowd cited Hendo’s as a prime example.

He said: “Last Saturday I was in the Hare and Billet pub in Blackheath in London. And I was having lunch, and I asked if they had any Worcestershire Sauce - everybody knows the famous manufacturers of Worcestershire Sauce.

“Now, I’m a simple soul from south-east London, and I thought there was only one Worcestershire Sauce. And the very nice chap who was serving us went away and said ‘certainly’, and he came back with a bottle, and it was shaped like the bottle which I always remembered containing, I think it’s Lea and Perrins, Worcestershire Sauce and their marvellous concoction: same shape, same size, the label was amazingly enough orange with black lettering.

“But it was something from Sheffield, from somewhere called Henderson’s - whoever they were.

“Now, I’m sure Mr Henderson and his company is a perfectly estimable organisation and I’m sure they pursue an entirely legitimate business, but I couldn’t help feeling at the time that this, of all the colours they could choose for their label, of all the shapes they could have for their bottle, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Sheffield sauce until then, but I thought this is an ideal example of just how easy these things are to do (to copy).”

The orange and black label has been used on bottles of Henderson’s since the start of production.

While manufacturers are unsure of the exact origin of the packaging, they were upset Mr Dowd implied founder Henry Henderson had attempted to imitate Worcestershire Sauce.

Simon Freeman, managing director, said: “I was saddened by his comments. Henry Henderson said out to make a bespoke spicy sauce.

“Yes we are aware of the similarities with Lea and Perrins, but there’s not an awful lot you can do with bottled sauce.

“We’re very careful about defending our own brand and would never enroach other people’s.

“Maybe if our product was more nationwide Mr Dowd would know there is a big difference. Our customers in Yorkshire do. Maybe one day he’ll come to his senses.

“I don’t know how a bottle ended up in a pub in London. I’m ordering an internal investigation to find out how it got out of Yorkshire!”