Opinion: Why Henderson's Relish will always be so much more than a condiment to Sheffielders

When grocer Harry Henderson concocted the secret recipe for Henderson’s Relish in 1885, I wonder if he had any idea that it would still be beloved by Sheffielders more than 135 years later.

Monday, 6th September 2021, 2:49 pm

Those wishing to get their hands on the spicy sauce in those days would need to go to his shop in Green Lane, and later Broad Lane; and, similar to zero-waste shops today, would need to take their own receptacle along to be filled up.

Today, Henderson’s Relish is stocked in Sainsbury’s and Morrisons supermarkets across the country, and is also being exported to Japan, swapping the tagline of “strong and northern” for “best on fried fish and seafood.”

The national and international sale of the sauce are very recent developments, and prior to that, it was only possible to buy Henderson’s Relish, or Hendo’s as it has been dubbed by many, in shops located in or around Sheffield.

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Henderson's Relish. Picture by Simon Hulme

Undoubtedly, the fact it has been exclusively sold here for over 130 years is what has led to it being widely regarded to be Sheffield’s favourite and best kept secret.

Simon Freeman and Julia Waxman, along with their mother Pamela Freeman, are the company’s current directors, and it has been in their family for just over 80 years.

Julia describes the ownership and strength of feeling people in Sheffield have for Hendo’s as akin to that of a dedicated football fan and their chosen team.

Fans of Hendo’s are often prepared to prove their dedication to their favourite sauce in weird and wonderful ways, whether that is through having designs of its memorable bottle tiled on the floor of their Spanish swimming pool, or tattooed on their arm.

Referring to Hendo’s rival, the sauce-that-must-not-be-named, Julia said: “I just don’t think people would do that sort of thing for Lea and Perrins.”

This month marks a decade since I moved to the Steel City, and made it my home; and I like to consider myself an honorary Sheffielder.

I’ve always found people here to be warm, loyal and steadfast when it comes to who and what they love.

And so, the way in which Sheffielders always have, and I imagine always will, take Hendo’s to their heart, perfectly reflects this wonderful city and the people who make it so special.