The Historic Origins Of Wimbledon's Strawberries And Cream

The Wimbledon Championships has been around since 1877, and with nearly 150 years of history plenty of traditions have sprouted up around the famous tennis tournament (via BBC). One classic example is the Wimbledon Whites that all competitors are required to wear while playing. Not off-white or cream. White is the only color allowed for a competitor's dress since the tournament began.

They've developed more than one culinary tradition to go along with the tournament as well. One is the classic Pimm's Cup cocktail that is attached to the Wimbledon Championships much like the Mint Julep is connected to the Kentucky Debry.

Another Wimbledon dish is strawberries and cream. This simple treat has supposedly been with the tournament since its inception when a meager 200 spectators came to watch the athletes perform (via Wales Online). In 2019, more than 500,000 spectators came out over the course of the 13 days, and nearly 192,000 portions of strawberries and cream were served to satisfy them all (via Wimbledon). While the tradition of strawberries and cream might be a Wimbledon staple, it may have originated in the stands of tennis courts centuries earlier.

The court of King Henry VIII first popularized the dish

It's said that strawberries and cream were first served centuries before the first Wimbledon Championships. According to the BBC, it was Thomas Wolsey who first popularized the dish at banquets in his Hampton Court palace in the early 1500s. Wolsey was the right-hand man to King Henry VIII, and would often entertain parties of 600 or more guests at one time. The elites of the era are well regarded for their extravagant meals sometimes adding up to 44 courses in a single sitting. The simple dish then may have been created for practical reasons. Even though dairy was considered food for the lower classes, it served as an excellent accompaniment to fresh strawberries and was apparently a hit among Wolsey's guests.

No palace would be complete without its own tennis court, and Hampton Court was no exception. It was at these courts that palace staff would have served strawberries and cream to spectating guests (via BBC). Once the dish was linked to tennis, its popularity grew and became a symbol of one of the tennis world's greatest showcases.