Us British take a lot of pride in our homegrown brands. We like to throw around words like “heritage”, “quality”, and “tradition” when we discuss all the things that make British brands great. 

You might be surprised, then, to discover that many of our most iconic home brands aren’t actually British at all, but are owned by companies from all around the globe. So scroll down and be prepared to have your sense of patriotic pride confused with our list of 10 rather un-British British brands.

HP Sauce

Does it get more British than a bottle of brown sauce? How about a bottle of brown sauce with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament on the label? Yes, HP’s roots run deep in the full English breakfast veins of our little island. A surprise it is, then, to find out that it has in fact been owned by American company Heinz since 2005. 

Sarson’s Vinegar 

You’ve seen it on every plastic table in every seaside fish and chip shop since you were a child. But Sarson’s Vinegar has belonged to Japanese vinegar manufacturer Mizkan since 2012.   

Branston Pickle

Just that word, “Branston”, sounds so quintessentially British, doesn’t it? Dollop it onto a cheese sandwich and get to the park before it rains for the perfect British summer afternoon. But, just like Sarson’s Vinegar, this picnic staple is now a part of the Mizkan family. 

Walkers

“No,” we hear you saying. “Not Walkers. Anything but Walkers. . .” 

Arguably the British crisp. The Walkers factory, based in Leicester, churns out an astonishing 7 million bags every day. They’re firmly rooted in our country’s snack identity, with an astonishing range of flavours, and celebrity endorsements from some of Britain’s most endearing characters (including Gary Lineker and The Spice Girls). They’ve been owned by PepsiCo since 1989. 

Weetabix

Arguments have raged up and down the country for years over how best to consume this notorious biscuit cereal. Dry? With milk? Added fruit? A drizzle of honey? 

Indeed, like them or loathe them, these soggy-prone breakfast bites are a British kitchen cupboard mainstay — owned by Chinese consortium Bright Food since 2012.

Cadbury

Ask anybody which chocolate best encapsulates the tastes of the British public, and the answer you’ll get, more often than not, is “Cadbury”. Their broad and often quirky range of chocolate treats are there to satisfy all tastebuds, from the play-it-safe-ers (good old Dairy Milk) to the eccentric-experimenters (Jelly Popping Candy, anyone?). But despite their strong foothold in the British chocolate scene, Cadbury were bought in 2010 by Kraft, and subsequently incorporated into US company Mondelēz International.

Terry’s Chocolate Orange

If there’s any chocolate that could be regarded as more British than Cadbury, it’d be Terry’s. Harder to break into than a refrigerated Easter egg, Terry’s Chocolate Oranges have graced our Boxing Day buffets for generations. But they, too, are owned by Mondelēz International, and the factory that produces the oranges is actually based in Poland.

Tetley Tea

It’s cozy and it’s homely, and the man on the box looks British enough, with his little flat cap and green sweater vest. Yes, this is the tea of grandparents. But it’s actually owned by Indian-based company, Tata Globa Beverages. 

Newcastle Brown Ale

It’s all in the name. Yet this Geordie beer has been owned by Heineken of the Netherlands since 2008. It’s also produced in Yorkshire. So there’s not much Newcastle left in it, really. 

Brands around the world

Too much talk of British branding? Why not broaden your aesthetic horizons and take a look at our posts on Scandinavian and Japanese design?