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Henderson's Relish, known locally as 'Enderson's, Hendo's, Reli or simply "Relish", is a spicy and fruity condiment, similar in appearance to Worcestershire sauce, but which contains no anchovies. It is made of water, sugar and spirit vinegar with a selection of spices and colouring. Some adherents favour it due to its unique taste, and some out of regional loyalty. It is also vegan. The comedian Tom Wrigglesworth said of Henderson's Relish that while outsiders think the condiment is Sheffield's answer to Worcestershire sauce, Sheffielders think it is the answer to everything. Certainly Henderson's Relish has an extremely loyal following among the people of South Yorkshire.
It was Henry Henderson who first began manufacturing his own special type of sauce back in the latter part of the 19th century. Originally manufactured at 35 Broad Lane in Sheffield, Henderson’s Relish is still being made and was in uninterrupted production within half a mile of the site from which the first bottle was filled until the move to a new food production factory in 2013. The company was bought by Shaws of Huddersfield in 1910 who still supply Hendersons with vinegar. In 1940 Charles Hinksman formed the present company of Hendersons (Sheffield) Ltd., the control of which has remained with the family. Kenneth Freeman, the nephew of the late Charles Hinksman, became the Managing Director and Chairman in 1991 and has overseen many important changes in the company’s profile.
Like many similar sauces, it has a base of spirit vinegar, coloured with caramel and sweetened with sugar and (nowadays) saccharin. Its flavour is derived from tamarind,[note 1] cayenne pepper and garlic oil. A spice that distinguishes Henderson's from other English sauces is its use of cloves.
Henderson's Relish has always been known, by Sheffielders, as "'Endersons", Reli or simply as "Relish". However, in recent years, it has been claimed that it is also known as "Hendo's" in the city. However, the addition of an 'o' to words in this way is something more commonly associated with speech patterns in the North-West of England, rather than Yorkshire, and "Hendo's" is not a traditional name for Henderson's Relish. The issue has been much discussed on local websites.
According to Henderson's, famous fans of the condiment include Sheffield-born celebrities Sean Bean, Peter Stringfellow and Def Leppard's Rick Savage. David Blunkett also used it when he cooked shepherd's pie on The F Word TV cookery programme.
In 1993, two special-edition labels were produced to celebrate the FA Cup semi-final. Sheffield's two league clubs, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday, both then in the Premier League, contested the match at Wembley. The bottles were produced with labels in both red and white stripes (United's colours) and blue and white stripes (Wednesday's colours). These labels are still available in the respective clubs' shops.
The singer/songwriter Richard Hawley used specially-labelled bottles of Henderson's Relish to promote his 2005 album 'Coles Corner'. Also on his 2007 autumn tour, special bottles of the relish were available to promote current album Lady's Bridge. The bottles of relish cost £1.50, with fans generally having to purchase them after the show, due to glass bottles being banned from most auditoriums.
Henderson's Relish has been an inspiration to several Sheffield such as Rick Savage (Def Leppard) artists who have produced pieces about the product. Artists such as Pete McKee, Kid Acne and Jim Connolly have all released prints offering their own unique take on the cult relish. It also featured in the plotline of the second episode of Series 4 of BBC Radio 4's comedy series Tom Wrigglesworth's Hang-Ups in September 2016.
A Sheffield-based women’s traditional rapper dance team, who perform a sort of traditional northern sword dance with long Sheffield rapper knives, originally wanted to name themselves after Henderson’s Relish, but their approach to the company was rejected. Inspired by the much-loved condiment, they dance in costumes of black and orange, but adopted the name ‘Sheffield Steel Rapper’.
It can be found in local fish and chip shops and almost every supermarket and grocers in the city, yet is almost unavailable anywhere outside Yorkshire (although it can be ordered online).
The company has made little effort to market outside Yorkshire, instead preferring to encourage a loyal following nationally through this sense of exclusivity. Although often available throughout the UK, this has been due to the efforts of individual shops, and loyal Yorkshiremen smugglers, to obtain small quantities for their local clientele.
Knowledge of Henderson's is so limited outside Yorkshire that Lewisham MP Jim Dowd misunderstood it as a copy of the anchovy-based Lea and Perrins and described it as "parasitic packaging" in an attempt to pass off one sauce as another, during a parliamentary debate on the Intellectual Property Bill. He had encountered the sauce at a pub in Blackheath, the Hare and Billet, also far outside the usual Henderson's region. Later, he was corrected by comments from Sheffield MPs Paul Blomfield and Nick Clegg. Dowd later toured the Henderson's factory in a peace-making gesture.
After starting life in Sheffield over one hundred years ago, until 2013 the spicy condiment Henderson's Relish was in uninterrupted production within half a mile of the original site on Broad Lane from which the first bottle was filled. The Henderson's factory was located opposite what was once Jessop's Hospital for Women, now part of Sheffield University. The building is adjacent to the 'University' Supertram stop, on Leavygreave Road. In September 2008, the sign that had adorned the side of the historic Henderson's Relish building was stolen, and shortly afterwards was placed for sale on a local Sheffield blog.
In 2013, the manufacturer moved into a new home at J.F. Finnegan's 58 acre Sheffield Parkway Business Park, a double hybrid unit 2A/B comprising around 5,000 sq ft of state-of-the-art food production space including offices and warehouse facilities on Site 5 of Sheffield Parkway Business Park to ensure it has the best, modern facilities to meet the increasing levels of demand for the popular product.
Sheffield University plans to preserve and redevelop the original building as part of its campus.
- Tamarind is also a major flavour note in another popular English sauce, HP Sauce
- Writers: Tom Wrigglesworth, James Kettle with additional material by Miles Jupp, Producer: Richard Morris (1 September 2016). "Tom Wrigglesworth's Hang-Ups, Series 4". Tom Wrigglesworth's Hang-Ups. BBC Radio 4.
- on YouTube
- "Where to buy". Hendersons Relish. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2008.
- Jessica Ennis commemorative bottle
- "Own brands 'parasitic' says MP". 21 January 2014.
- "Daily Hansard – debate". Hansard: Column 56. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- "Nick Clegg speaks out in defence of Sheffield's Henderson's Relish". 21 January 2014. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014.
- Molly Lynch (18 February 2014). "'Hendogate': MP shows a lot of bottle". The Star.
- Something to relish ... missing half of sign for sale for 50p
- "Factory is safe with university". Sheffield Telegraph. 8 October 2014.