The top 10 surprisingly recently invented foods

I cheated and made it a baker’s dozen

John Rentoul
Friday 27 May 2022 11:00 BST
<p>Mmm... banoffee pie </p>

Mmm... banoffee pie

I stole this list from Tom Forth, who started with ciabatta, invented in Italy in 1982 to stop the invasion of French baguettes; ploughman’s lunch, a term promoted by the Cheese Bureau to sell cheese in the 1950s; and fondue, promoted as a Swiss national dish by the Swiss Cheese Union in the 1930s.

1. Banoffee pie. “In the 1970s I was a regular diner at the Hungry Monk in Jevington, East Sussex, where the pudding was created. Its success surprised the owners, Sue and Nigel Mackenzie, who had no idea it would become a dessert staple, much loved by my family both in the restaurant and at home,” said Richard Hanson-James.

2. Chicken tikka masala. Didn’t exist in the Indian subcontinent; invented in Britain, possibly by a Bangladeshi chef in Glasgow in 1971. Nominated by Richard Hanson-James, Sean Bamforth, Darcys Wickham, Balthazar Grimm, David Alston and Andrew Graystone.

3. The Croissan’wich. Invented by Burger King in 1983 and since forgotten by everyone involved. Thanks to Iain Boyd.

4. Kiwi fruit. The fruit formerly known as Chinese gooseberries. Thanks to Ron White. Renamed by Turners & Growers in 1974, said Shiwon, whose father was involved. “It was renamed because of racism – we couldn’t sell it to the Americans with Chinese in the name. T&G forgot to trademark it though.”

5. Pad Thai. Invented by the dictatorship to foster national pride in the 1930s. Thanks to Londinburgh.

6. Salmon sushi. Norwegians persuaded the Japanese to solve their salmon glut in the 1980s by eating raw salmon, which was previously unheard of. Nominated by Aaron Barnes and Matt Webster.

7. Skimmed milk. Waste product of making butter rebranded as a health thing in 1940s US. Thanks to John Peters.

8. Sticky toffee pudding. Origin disputed, but probably 1960s; popularised by Sharrow Bay hotel in the Lake District in the 1970s. Nominated by DonBrownLondon, Luke Dyks and John Wilkin.

9. Tamarillo. Tree tomato renamed by the New Zealand Tree Tomato Promotions Council in 1967. They are still a bit tomato-ey, though.

10. Tiramisu. First mentioned in a Canadian tourist guide in 1973, and not in Italian until 1980. Nominated by Ben Page.

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At a tangent: Fanta is Nazi Coke, or anti-Nazi Coke. It is what Coca-Cola plants in Nazi Germany made, keeping the profits away from the party, according to Laura McInerney and Mr Chipping. Artificial banana flavour was used in the US before most Americans had tasted any actual bananas, said Lauren Pleska.

Next week: Journeys across the political spectrum, such as Tony Benn one way and Oswald Mosley the other.

Coming soon: Works of literature written in prison, such as Le Morte d’Arthur.

Your suggestions please, and ideas for future Top 10s, to me on Twitter, or by email to

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