The Origins Of Popular Spreads

Whether you’re looking for a satisfying addition to your morning toast, or that perfect accompaniment for a midnight sandwich snack, there are a variety of flavoured spreads available to satisfy your cravings. Sweet tooth or savoury preference, the most popular spreadable goods all started out somewhere, with surprising origins for some. At Freshways, we pride ourselves on stocking a wide assortment of dairy products, with ranges from the nation’s favourite bread companies and butter suppliers available to buy in bulk.

Continue reading to discover the origins of some of the nation’s favourite spreadables.


The staple of many sandwiches, and a favourite on toast, butter is a dairy product made from the fat and protein components of churned cream. The earliest instance of butter production was rumoured to be completely accidental, after a nomad had attached a sheepskin bag of milk to his horse and discovered after a day of travel that the churned milk fat had solidified into what we now know as butter.


A product made of crushed and heated fruit which is combined with water and sugar until it reaches a setting point, the first recorded instances of jam were observed in fourth century Rome. Detailed within the first recognised cookbook, De Re Coquinaria (The Art of Cooking), instead of being spreadable onto bread, this early variety of jam was served by itself as a delicacy at the end of a meal.


Though the origins of marmalade can be traced back to Greek and Roman times, it wasn’t popular in Britain until the 17th Century, a time period during which citrus fruits were plentiful, and ways of preserving them were needed. Marmalade was a great way of providing additional vitamins when fresh fruit was unavailable, and the British used it to help prevent scurvy on board merchant ships.


Originally sold as a solid block instead of the creamy spreadable version we now know and love, the origins of Nutella can be traced back to Italian baker Pietro Ferreroi in 1951. Owning a bakery in Alba, an Italian town known for the production of hazelnuts, he decided  to start producing batches of sweet chocolate spread infused with nuts – and the rest is history. Nutella was an instant success and remains popular to this day.


The ‘love it or hate it’ savoury spread made from yeast extract was surprisingly invented by German scientist Justus von Liebig, who accidentally discovered that brewer’s yeast could be concentrated and eaten. Later used to treat malnutrition during the 1934 malaria epidemic in Sri Lanka, the recipe for the modern marmite has seen many changes, but remains a point of contention for sandwich lovers.

Despite humble beginnings back in 1990, Freshways have grown into one of the largest independent fresh food suppliers in the UK. Providing high quality dairy products and fresh baked goods at affordable prices, our service is fast, efficient, and reliable, no matter where you are in the country. Stocking the nation’s leading bread companies and butter suppliers right through to small businesses, contact us today for more information on how we can help you.