Potted meats run in the Sutherland family’s blood. Well, not literally of course. But the traditional recipes that Granny Mary Sutherland used a hundred or so years ago still form the foundation of what we do today. There’s a long history though. And a pretty interesting one. Here’s how it began with Mary and Eddie back in the 1920s.

Mary and Eddie

Mary came from a large family where the concept of family life and loyalty was paramount. It determined her approach to just about everything – keep the family united, strong, supportive and loving.

Eddie was a grafter, running away to sea in his teens and giving up the notion of a formal education in the process. He became a talented salesman (‘could talk for England’ one of his grandsons later said) getting up at four in the morning in his job for Lyons’ Tea. He was one of Lyons’ top salesmen.

Another string to Eddie Sutherland’s bow was his talent as an artist and he supplemented his income by selling his paintings around Sheffield.

Eddie had ideas though. He was ambitious, wanted a lifestyle to match and loved a challenge. Taking care of family was at the forefront of his thinking. Just selling Lyons’ Tea wasn’t going to cut it in the long term. Every day he wondered about what sort of business he could start up, grow and build to meet those ambitions.

Packed lunches to Innovation

One morning in 1926, Eddie set out for work as usual selling tea. Mary’s day was focused around looking after their three young children Keith, Joan and Peter. Eddie took his ‘snap tin’ as usual as he set out for Doncaster. It was a dull, rainy day – darkened by clouds rising from the coal fires people had going.

Eddie pulled up at his noon sales stop. He was friends with this particular shopkeeper, Cyril, and each Tuesday Eddie would eat his sandwiches here as he and Cyril put the world to rights.

“Eddie, what have you got on your sandwiches today? What’s Mary made you this time?”

 “Special potted beef with butter,” replied Eddie guarding his snap tin.

“You’re a lucky man Eddie,” said Cyril eyeing up Eddie’s sandwiches. He didn’t have his own lunch.

After a little while Eddie took the unsaid hint and gave Cyril one of his sandwiches. And that simple gesture was the moment everything changed.