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For the singer/beatboxer who appeared on America's Got Talent, see Butterscotch (performer). For the similarly named South Park character, see Butters Stotch.
A butterscotch sundae
Type Confectionery
Main ingredients Brown sugar, butter
Cookbook:Butterscotch  Butterscotch

Butterscotch is a type of confectionery whose primary ingredients are brown sugar and butter, although other ingredients such as corn syrup, cream, vanilla, and salt are part of some recipes. According to "Housewife's Corner" in an 1848 newspaper, the real recipe for "making Doncaster butterscotch is one pound of butter, one pound of sugar and a quarter of a pound of treacle, boiled together."[1]

Butterscotch is similar to toffee, but for butterscotch the sugar is boiled to the soft crack stage, and not hard crack as with toffee.[2] Butterscotch sauce is often made into a syrup, which is used as a topping for ice cream (particularly sundaes).

The term butterscotch is also often used for the flavour of brown sugar and butter together even where actual confection butterscotch is not involved, e.g. butterscotch pudding.


Butterscotch hard candies, commonly seen in America.

Food historians have several theories regarding the name and origin of this confectionery, but none are conclusive. One explanation is the meaning "to cut or score" for the word "scotch", as the confection must be cut into pieces, or "scotched", before hardening.[3][4] It is also possible that the "scotch" part of its name was derived from the word "scorch".[5]


In 1855, F. K. Robinson's Glossary of Yorkshire Words, explained Butterscotch as "a treacle ball with an amalgamation of butter in it".[6]

"Doncaster Butterscotch" was known at least as early as 1848[1] and sold commercially by rival confectioners S. Parkinson & Sons (still trading as Parkinson's[7]), Henry Hall, and Booth's, all of Doncaster, via agents in Yorkshire.[8][9][10] Internationally, Parkinson's was recognised as the inventor but others tried to claim the product for themselves, Parkinson's started to use and advertise the Doncaster Church as their trademark.[11]

It was advertised as "Royal Doncaster Butterscotch", or "The Queen's Sweetmeat", and said to be "the best emollient for the chest in the winter season".[12] Parkinson's Butterscotch was by appointment to the Royal household and was presented to the Princess Elizabeth, then the Duchess of Edinburgh, in 1948[13] and to the Princess Anne, The Princess Royal in 2007.[14]

Packaging and products[edit]

Butterscotch is often used as a flavour for items such as dessert sauce, pudding, and biscuits (cookies). To that end, it can be bought in "butterscotch chips", made with hydrogenated (solid) fats so as to be similar for baking use to chocolate chips. There are also individually wrapped, translucent sometimes yellow coloured hard candies (butterscotch disks) with an artificial butterscotch flavour, which is dissimilar to actual butterscotch.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Liverpool Mercury, February 1, 1848, page 4
  2. ^ "The Cold Water Candy Test". Exploratorium. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  3. ^ "Maple Sugar". baking911.com. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  4. ^ "Butterscotch Sauce Recipe, How to Make Butterscotch | Simply Recipes". Elise.com. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  5. ^ "Sticking With Butterscotch". Washington Post. 2007-03-07. Retrieved 2014-07-10. 
  6. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, "Butterscotch"
  7. ^ http://www.doncasterbutterscotch.com
  8. ^ Sheffield & Rotherham Independent December 20, 1851
  9. ^ Sheffield & Rotherham Independent December 27, 1851
  10. ^ Bradford Observer 21, 1856
  11. ^ Observer (New Zealand), Volume IX, Issue 570, 30 November 1889, Page 3
  12. ^ Leeds Mercury January 29, 1853
  13. ^ Published on Friday 29 August 2008 15:06 (2008-08-29). "Royals visit 1948 St Leger - Features". The Star. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  14. ^ "travel". Best Doncaster Airport Hotels. 2004-03-05. Retrieved 2012-05-05.