When does powdered soup not taste like powdered soup?
Why, when you pour a great big dollop of Worcestershire sauce in it, that’s when.
Oh dear. Well, how much Worcestershire sauce are we talking about? “A teaspoon,” says the cheerful 1943 lady stirring the pot down at the bottom of the ad. “Or more,” she adds ominously (not in italics, though – those are mine, because I’m frightened). How much more? Nobody knows.
Lea and Perrins’ is the Worcestershire sauce that came first (back in 1837) and is the kind that I have got hidden at the back of a kitchen shelf somewhere, because when you are married to a British person you need to keep it on hand. Also HP sauce, which may or may not contain bits of the Houses of Parliament, and Marmite – basically, lots of dark, mysteriously pungent condiments.
You can put a dash of Worcestershire sauce in things like stew or Bloody Marys, if that’s what you happen to be making. I was amused to read over at Wikipedia that when Lea and Perrins made the first lot of sauce (in the city of Worcester, of course), it was so terrible and strong that they banished it to the cellar and then forgot about it. It contained – as it still does – a hodgepodge of ingredients ranging from vinegar and molasses to tamarind and anchovies. Kind of like a 50s jellied salad without the jelly.
Of course, when Mr. Lea and/or Mr. Perrins remembered That Sauce about a year later, it had aged, mellowed, et cetera, and was the stuff we all know and love today. And so a bunch of other people got into the Worcestershire sauce making line, including, of course, French’s – who mostly make mustard. They are also, as Kitchen Retro readers may know, the creators of one of the great advertising mascots ever, the iconic Hot Dan the Mustard Man. The picture of him on your left is a detail from a 1951 ad over at the always-piquant LiveJournal Vintage Ads.
Hot Dan, incidentally, is not going to be pleased about this advertisement. He does not think you should put anything extra in soup (or indeed any dish) except – well, mustard. So this couple needs to stop grinning and exclaiming quite so loudly about how clever it is to put Worcestershire sauce in things. Or else they may get a surprise visit from a small angry person in a giant yellow bow tie, brandishing his trademark Hot Dan Spoon of Doom.