A hearty meal with all the trimmings may be just what the doctor ordered on a chilly winter’s evening, but sometimes you just can’t beat a bit of finger food.

Luckily, Christmas is the perfect time to put on a festive party spread and one buffet item you shouldn’t forget to include is the humble scotch egg.

A firm lunch box and picnic staple, the simple snack comprises a boiled egg encased in sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs and then baked or deep-fried.

Read more: The Yorkshire seaside town with its very own dessert sold nowhere else in the world

It may sound basic but it’s delicious, and what’s more it’s believed to have originated right here in Yorkshire.

It is understood that the scotch egg was invented in the pretty seaside town of Whitby in the late 19th century, although it was a little different to the snack we know today.

Originally, scotch eggs were covered in a creamy fish paste rather than sausage meat, before being coated in breadcrumbs.

At the time they were known as ‘Scotties’ – a name they allegedly took from a well-known eatery on the seafront called William J Scott & Sons which is said to have invented them, according to Culinary Delights of Yorkshire.

The sausage meat later replaced the fish paste when the eggs started to be sold in bigger food shops as it was easier to package, but variations of the original fish covered version can still be found in some parts of Yorkshire.

Whitby has been credited with inventing the scotch egg
Whitby has been credited with inventing the scotch egg
(Image: Getty Images)

It’s also been suggested that the snack was referred to as “scorch” eggs due to being cooked over an open flame, although surviving recipes indicate they were deep-fried in lard.

The scotch eggs name we know today was eventually adopted over time, which was thought to be a result of major food stores starting to sell the delicacy and wanting a more formal approach to marketing.

Of course, several other origin stories exist for the scotch egg with The Oxford Companion to Food referencing the first instance of the name in 1809, although at this time the eggs didn’t have a breadcrumb coating.

Food historian Annette Hope later speculated in 1987 that the eggs may have been inspired from Indian cuisine, specifically a dish called nargisi kofta.

Koftas are essentially meatballs which encase a hard boiled egg inside a mixture of lamb and seasoning. These are then dusted in flour and deep fried until they are crispy.

The scotch egg has also been linked to Fortnum & Mason, with claims the luxury London department store invented the delicacy in the 18th century. It suggests the eggs were once considered a luxury food for the upper classes and were available to buy as a handy on-the-go snack around the Piccadilly area for the wealthy.

There are also claims that the eggs were a northern take on Cornish pasties and were designed to be easily transportable lunches for the working class.

The latter is more in keeping with the reputation of the scotch egg today, which is known for being a cheap and cheerful lunch box, picnic and party food snack that us Yorkshire folk are more than happy to claim as our own.


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