Minor British Institutions: Bovril
Saturday 22 August 2009
Beef tea. Strange idea, popular still at football matches. But who on earth came up with it? A Scotsman, by the name of John Lawson Johnston, though there appears to be no record of his precise thought process.
Apparently he was offered a contract to supply French armies with beef during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. He didn't send them tins, as perhaps they expected, but a paste that would, with the addition of hot water, become "Johnston's Fluid Beef".
It was renamed Bovril in 1886, the Bov bit coming from bovine, and the "vril" from the name of the "life force" featured in The Coming Race, an early science-fiction novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.
The British took to it and it enjoyed success before, in the early part of this century, the BSE scare meant the original beef extract was replaced by a vegetarian base, making it an inferior version of Marmite. However, a couple of years ago, makers Unilever decided to put the beef back in – and Bovril is back.
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Scottish independence: Despite defeat history may still point to Alex Salmond as the victor
Scottish independence referendum: Frankie Boyle reacts to nation's 'No' vote - 'To be fair, I've always hated Scotland'
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish referendum: Police struggle to control Unionist rally in Glasgow's George Square
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...
£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...
£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...