HP Sauce is a condiment, a popular brown sauce produced in Aston, Birmingham, England by HP Foods. It has a malt vinegar base blended with fruit and spices and is usually eaten as an adjunct to hot or cold savoury food, or used as an ingredient in soups or stews. HP Sauce is the best known brand of brown sauce in Britain.
The original recipe for HP Sauce was invented and developed by Harry Palmer, from whom the initials "H. P." derive. It was first known as "Harry Palmer's Famous Epsom Sauce". Palmer, an avid gambler at the Epsom races, was forced to sell the recipe (to cover his debts) to F.G. Garton, a grocer from Nottingham. F.G. Garton's Sauce Manufacturing began to market HP Sauce in 1903. Garton called the sauce HP partly due to its local reputation, but also because he had heard that a restaurant in the Houses of Parliament had begun serving it (indeed, bottle labels today carry a picture of the Palace of Westminster). Garton sold the recipe and HP brand for the sum of £150 and the settlement of some unpaid bills to Edwin Samson Moore.
HP Sauce became known as "Wilson's Gravy" in the 1960s and 1970s after Harold Wilson, the Labour Prime Minister. The name arose after Mary Wilson gave an interview to the Sunday Times in which she claimed "If Harold has a fault, it is that he will drown everything with HP Sauce". Private Eye's Parliamentary news section is called "HP Sauce".
For many years the description on the label was in both English and French . During a 1960s BBC radio broadcast Marty Feldman sang the French version in the style of Jacques Brel. Whether or not the BBC performance has been archived is not known, but the song was also included on Feldman's 1969 album I feel a song going off.
HP Sauce itself is also available in a fruity version. Whilst other sauces are sold under the "HP" name (such as chilli and curry) these are not based on a brown sauce recipe, and thus would not be called "HP Sauce" by most people.