Big Ben scaffold added to HP Sauce label

Image copyright PA
Image caption HP Sauce, like its namesake, has had a makeover

HP Sauce has taken a cue from its namesake – with a redesign of its famous label.

Bottles of the quintessentially British condiment, named after the Houses of Parliament, usually show the Elizabeth Tower – commonly known as Big Ben.

But the firm behind the piquant garnish has added scaffolding to the design to reflect current restoration works.

Heinz claims it is the first change to the butty booster’s bottle design in 123 years.

Bosses at the US food giant revealed the change on the tower’s 160th anniversary.


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HP’s history, potted

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ray Egan, also known as John Bull, protested against the closure of the HP Sauce factory in Birmingham
  • HP Sauce got its name as it was reputedly served at Parliament
  • It was rumoured the brown sauce, made with a malt vinegar base and a blend of fruits and spices, was much-loved by MPs in the early 20th Century
  • In the 1960s and 1970s it became known as “Wilson’s Gravy” because the wife of then prime minister, Harold Wilson, told The Times he would smother his food in it
  • A bottle of centenary HP Sauce made for him sold for £250 in an auction this month
  • The sauce was made at a factory in Aston, Birmingham, from 1875 when the Midland Vinegar Company was started by Edwin Moore
  • Mr Moore bought the recipe from a Nottingham grocer who owed him money
  • Heinz bought the company amid mass protests, and moved production to Holland with the loss of about 125 jobs
  • The last bottle made in Birmingham came off the production line in 2007
  • Its West Midlands factory – along with its famous HP tower – was demolished in the same year
Image copyright Heinz/PA
Image caption Heinz bosses say it is the first change to the label in 123 years

The redesigned bottles will be available nationwide from June until the restoration of the tower is complete.

Reaction to the move on social media included a number of tweets praising the “clever marketing”.

Others, however, pointed out that HP Sauce was no longer produced in the UK.

But for some, no amount of effective PR was enough to improve their opinion of the product.

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Big Ben – the name given to the bell inside the Elizabeth Tower – fell silent in August 2017 before repair works began.

Its new temporary look has confused tourists, who have arrived disappointed to find their selfies scuppered by scaffolding.

The works are due to be completed in 2021.

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