Butterscotch is a type of confectionery whose primary ingredients are brown sugar and butter, although other ingredients such as corn syrup, cream, vanilla, and salt are part of some recipes.
The ingredients for butterscotch are similar to toffee, but for butterscotch the sugar is boiled to the soft crack stage, and not hard crack as with toffee. Butterscotch sauce is often made into a syrup, which is used as a topping for ice cream (particularly sundaes).
The term butterscotch is also often used for the flavour of brown sugar and butter together even where actual confection butterscotch is not involved, e.g. butterscotch pudding.
Food historians have several theories regarding the name and origin of this confectionery, but none are conclusive. One explanation is the meaning “to cut or score” for the word “scotch”, as the confection must be cut into pieces, or “scotched”, before hardening. It is also possible that the “scotch” part of its name was derived from the word “scorch”.
However, the word was first recorded in Doncaster, in England, where Samuel Parkinson began making the confectionery in 1817. Parkinson’s Butterscotch had royal approval and was one of Doncaster’s attractions until it ceased production in 1977. The recipe was revived in 2003 when a Doncaster businessman and his wife rediscovered the recipe on an old folded piece of paper inside one of the famous St Leger tins in their cellar.
Butterscotch is an example of a genericized trademark, originally a trademark of Parkinson’s.