Six delicious foods you can only get in Lancashire and nowhere else in the world

The Throdkin served at Noah's Ark
-Credit: (Image: LancsLive)


There's a lot to be proud of if you're from Lancashire. We've got rolling hills, friendly folk and in our opinion, some of the best food in the world.

Yes, you could go to Italy for fresh pizza and pasta, or to France for a fine dining experience, but where else can you get some of the best fried foods in the world? Where else can you enjoy the delights of a whinberry pie, or a butter pie?

Since it's clear Lancashire should be known the world over for its culinary traditions, we thought it would be fitting to put together a list of six delicious foods you can only get in our beautiful county.

Some of these may even bring up long-forgotten memories of your childhood. They've been around for absolutely years.

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John Bull

Our favourite on the list, it deserves to be top spot in the best foods you can only get in Lancashire. Admittedly, we hadn't heard of a John Bull before we tried one for ourselves, after venturing over to Holly Tree Chippy in Blackburn.

On our visit, we got a lot more than we bargained for and after speaking to the chippy's owner, we found out the origin of the foodstuff. Michael Rose informed us that during the war, fish was too expensive and the John Bull became a cheaper alternative - but what is it?

The John Bull is a staple of Blackburn
The John Bull is a staple of Blackburn -Credit:LancsLive

In his own words, Michael told us: "A uniquely seasoned mix of lean savoury mince meat, sandwiched between two potato slices and fried in our light crispy batter, and of course, with some very secret ingredients as well."

It sounds like a solid chippy treat and boy, it was. The batter was really crispy and the potato acted as a soft layer to everything else going on within the John Bull. The meat was well-spiced and packed with flavour - no bland food here.

Throdkin

Looking at this title, you might think the Throdkin sounds like a character imagined by JRR Tolkien, or the medical name for a particular ailment, but rest assured it is food - and it's delicious. Dating back to the 1800s, the food has been dubbed 'traditional breakfast food of the Fylde', but it's a far cry from what you may be used to these days.

Finding somewhere that cooked one did prove difficult, but on our mission we discovered chef Mike Counsell who was working at Noah's Ark in Adlington and kindly prepared the dish for us. Not only did it taste good, but the Throdkin looks appetising too.

The Throdkin served at Noah's Ark
The Throdkin served at Noah's Ark -Credit:LancsLive

On the bottom, there's the Throdkin which is akin to a flapjack made with oats and bacon. On top, there's a tower of bacon, black pudding and egg, all drizzled with honey.

It's a delicious blend of sweet and savoury and something you certainly can't get everywhere.

Whinberry pie

Whilst the John Bull is still enjoyed by locals to this day, another foodstuff that seems to have disappeared over time is whinberry pie. Although most may not have heard of this fruit, if you're reading this from Darwen you might be all too familiar.

Inside the rare Whinberry pie
Inside the rare Whinberry pie -Credit:LancsLive

In 2022, LancsLive reported on a trip to Rushton's The Bacon Stall in Darwen Market, where we first laid eyes on the sweet treat. One of the owners of the stall, Verity Ward told us the source of the whinberries are a mystery, but they're picked and frozen in batches - ready to be made into pies.

Crucially, they're only available to be picked on Darwen Moor in June and July, so getting them whilst fresh is imperative. Not only for stallholders though, but locals told of their memories of picking whinberries in the area too.

Carley Metcalfe told us about growing up in a single-parent family, where money was often "tight", but she remembers picking whimberries from the Moor with her mum and sister. She said: "We couldn't always afford things like the zoo or the Pleasure Beach.

"Every summer, me, my mum and sister would head up to Darwen tower armed with freezer bags to fill with whimberries. We’d always compete to see who could get the most."

Coltsfoot Rock

Changing pace slightly, we've added a packet of Lancashire sweets to this list too. Finding these was a total accident too, as they were being sold in the sweet aisle of a Morrisons supermarket, made by Stockley's, a local confectioner.

Coltsfoot Rock is produced by Stockley's of Lancashire
Coltsfoot Rock is produced by Stockley's of Lancashire -Credit:LancsLive

On the back of the mysterious sweet packet, a brief description of the sweet-maker is given. It says Malcolm Stockley founded the company in 1918 after he returned from the First World War to his native town of Accrington.

Upon his return, Malcolm aimed to recommence the craft that he had pursued as a younger man - the art of toffee making. Venturing out to other sweets, these include Coltsfoot Rock - one many of our readers remember from their childhoods.

According to Stockley's, the history and popularity of the product has stemmed from its medicinal benefits, as the leaves of the Coltsfoot plant were originally dried and then smoked, which is reported to have been used to relieve asthma, while its juices soothed coughs.

Whilst we can see the place this holds for many sweet lovers, the overwhelming taste of liquorice made it a treat we won't be trying again.

Whist pie

Lancashire is definitely better known for its pies, we can claim the butter pie from Preston and even a Lancashire pasty - the northern version of its better known cousin, the Cornish pasty. But how many of us have heard of a whist pie?

Visiting Ormskirk market in May last year, we discovered the foodstuff in a popular stall Mr Thompsons. Whilst the table was adorned with delicious cakes and pastries, there was one smaller pie that caught our eye - and it was sold for only £1.

Doing our research, we discovered whist pies are commonplace in the county and are raised hot-water double-crust pies, of slightly oval form and filled with special salt meat and jelly. However, for us, the jelly on top and what makes the pie a whist pie was what let it down.

The meat and pastry were genuinely delicious, with clear care and attention and plenty of flavour. But, if you hate odd textures and 'pork pie jelly' this one isn't for you.

Tosset cake

Chef Mike Counsell, from Noah's Ark Kitchen, prepares some traditional Lancashire Tosset Cake.
This whist pie was on sale in Ormskirk

Similar to the Throdkin, Chef Mike Counsell also informed us of another Lancashire foodstuff time has forgotten, the tosset cake. This delicacy is similar to the better-known Goosnargh cake and pre-dates the First World War.

Chef Mike said: "They are very very similar to a Goosnargh cake, there's only a subtle difference with fat and a subtle difference with the herb that's in them, because you put the seeds of the coriander in there.

"The thing that has impressed me with it is that coriander seeds, they originate from Italy, so they wouldn't have been able to get them here. With caraway seeds, we grow caraway plants everywhere in this country, but with the coriander they would have had to have got them in and it would have cost a lot of money to make them."

Although sugar was used in his particular recipe, Chef Mike believes that originally they would have been using honey due to the expense of sugar. He added: "If you think, they would have only had access to honey and I would have thought this would have been sweetened with honey, but as time went on they probably would have used sugar, but not like we do."