Eton mess is a traditional Englishdessert consisting of a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue, and cream, which is traditionally served at Eton College's annual cricket game against the pupils of Harrow School. The dish has been known by this name since the 19th century. According to Recipes from the Dairy (1995) by Robin Weir, who spoke to Eton College's librarian, Eton mess was served in the 1930s in the school's "sock shop" (tuck shop), and was originally made with either strawberries or bananas mixed with ice-cream or cream. Meringue was a later addition, and may have been an innovation by Michael Smith, the author of Fine English Cookery (1973). An Eton mess can be made with many other types of summer fruit, but strawberries are regarded as more traditional. A similar dessert is the Lancing mess, served throughout the year at Lancing College in West Sussex, England.
The word mess may refer to the appearance of the dish, or may be used in the sense of "a quantity of food", particularly "a prepared dish of soft food" or "a mixture of ingredients cooked or eaten together". A recent myth is that Eton mess was first created when a meringue dessert was accidentally crushed by a dog while travelling to picnic at Eton College, but what could be salvaged was served as a crushed meringue with strawberries and cream.