Pass the mustard, please!

I bought this cute, but a little rusty, mustard tin a couple of months ago at a community yard sale for a buck.


Colman's Mustard

Colman’s mustard is one condiment I’ve really missed since leaving England (in addition to Marmite and malt vinegar, of course).  One thing’s for sure-whoever stated all British food is horribly bland never tried a little bit of Colman’s on the side.  The mustard’s spicy kick dresses up almost any dinner.  Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century, many British households used Colman’s mustard powder in a variety of ways: as a condiment, for salad dressings, even to cure pneumonia or bronchitis! (I would definitely not try that at home).

Colman's Recipes


Mustard Poultice


Jeremiah Colman, a flour miller by trade, started Colman’s Mustard in 1814 after he purchased a mustard manufacturing plant just outside of Norwich, England.  By 1851, Colman’s had taken off, and employed around 200 people.  Jeremiah Colman was reportedly a kind and just employer, creating one of the first meal services for employees, as well as a school system for employee children (Parliament didn’t enact a mandatory school law for children until 1884- 20 years after Colman’s set up their school.) Queen Victoria even took notice of the name brand in 1866, bestowing a royal seal upon the manufacturer.  This became Colman’s crowning glory, and turned the brand into a household icon.

Queen Elizabeth II's Royal Seal


The yellow and red trademark tin has not changed much since its first emergence in 1866, the same year Colman’s Mustard received the royal seal.  The bull’s head was introduced in 1855, symbolizing tradition and quality.  One great tradition continued today, despite dwindling farmers, is that Colman’s still grows all of their mustard seeds in England instead of outsourcing, a feat which is becoming more difficult.  For more information on this, check out the BBC Food and Farmer’s Guardian’s news articles.

Before this became a problem, however, Colman’s Mustard dominated the condiment market, beginning with the purchase of French’s Mustard, Colman’s American rival, for 3.8 million dollars in 1926.    In 1938, Colman’s merged with Reckitt & Sons, a starch and flour company, to create Reckitt & Colman. Today, Colman’s not only sells mustard, but other condiments, sauces, and seasonings for the British kitchen.  In case you want that little extra kick to your hot dog or casserole, Colman’s brand is sold in a handful of larger grocery stores in the United States.

Further Reading:

Fredenburgh, Jez. ‘Hot Prospects for English Mustard Growers.’ Farmers Guardian. 9 May 2013. Web. 11 August 2013

Grace, Roger M. ‘Mustard Poultice: A Gushy Version of the Mustard Plaster.’ Metropolitan News Enterprise. Metropolitan News Company 24 February 2005. Web. 11 August 2013

Happy Accidents, INC. ‘Favorite Things #2: The 1966 Colmans Mustard tin.’ Flickr. 9 October 2009. Web. 11 August 2013

Hudgins, Sharon. ‘English Mustard: The Not-So-Mellow Yellow.’ Fiery Foods and Barbecue Supersite.

Reckitt Benckiser, LLC. ‘French’s Mustard History.’ French’s. 2013. Web. 11 August 2013

Unilever UK, Ltd. ‘Our History.’ Colman’s. 2011. Web. 11 August 2013

Warwicker, Michelle and Dan Saladino. ‘How English Mustard Almost Lost its Name.’ BBC Food. 2 September 2012. Web. 11 August 2013




Filed under 1950s, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Pass the mustard, please!

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post, and think that some of your UK based followers (and American subscribers thinking of a vacation in Britain) might like to visit the Colman’s Mustard Shop & Museum in Norwich:

    It’s a bit touristy, but if you’re visiting Norwich (a stunningly beautiful medieval city) it’s worth a look…

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