As demand for seasonal sponges grows could the traditional Christmas pudding be under threat?

Could the traditional Christmas pudding soon be in danger of being consigned to history and replaced by a sponge alternative?

For the first time Tesco has this year more festive sponges on offer than Christmas puddings – 12 sponges compared with 10 traditional puddings.

The change has come because younger diners, and Millennials in particular, prefer sponges as they are easier to digest compared with heavier, fruited puddings.

In 2013 five times as many shopper bought Christmas puds compared to sponges. Now, it’s only twice as many, and that gap is predicted to narrow even more this year.

Last Christmas Tesco saw demand for sponge alternatives grow by nearly 10 per cent on the previous year while sales of traditional puds remained stable. This year it is expecting even more customers to be in favour of sponges.

Tesco seasonal bakery buyer Vicky Smith explained:

These sponge alternatives are proving popular as tastes are changing, particularly with younger people who are generally not so keen on fruited puddings.

“There is also more innovation to be found in sponges as shapes and centres can be different – such as our finest* Orange Liqueur Sponge with Belgian Chocolate Sauce, that you pour into the middle and let it gently cascade out.

“Another top seller in the run up to Christmas this year is our finest* Gingerbread and Butterscotch Melt Pudding.

Along with sprouts, pudding is now the most divisive part of the festive feast – the choice between a traditional Christmas pud or a modern alternative.

“But if demand carries on at its present rate it might not be too long before the festive sponge takes over completely.”


Note to editors:

  • A wide range of finest* desserts have been developed for customers, so however you do Christmas, everyone’s welcome at Tesco.  
  • The sponge pudding is a British creation which, according to the Oxford Companion to Food, has its origins in the 17th century after which the first pudding cloth was invented resulting in the creation of suet mixes.
  • During the 18th century suet mixes were joined by the first sponge puddings and home chefs began to experiment with fruit and then treacle sauces made with molasses to add sweetness.
  • The classic sponge and treacle pudding became one of the most popular desserts during Victorian England.
  • Sales reached their peak during the middle of the 20th century when they became available in tins. At the end of the 1990s microwaveable sponge puddings were introduced.
  • Christmas puddings are diversifying too as the market has moved with the times, reflecting lifestyle changes such as vegetarian and free from options; customers can also enjoy a greater choice of single portions available.

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