The Great Scone Debate – Cream or Jam First? Candice Brown Has Her Say!

Candice Brown with tray of scones

There are few issues as contentious as the great scone debate: should the cream or jam be spread first? But according to a nationwide survey, the matter has been settled once and for all – and it is jam first and THEN cream.  

According to the survey of 2,000 Brits across the country, more than half of us (52 percent) agree that the scone should be smothered with jam first, then covered with a layer of cream.  Just 25 percent of Brits believe the cream should go on first, while an indifferent 19 percent insist they really couldn’t care either way. But the news will come as a bitter disappointment to those in Devon who traditionally spread the clotted cream first, while the Cornish will feel a sense of justification, as they do it the other way.

"Traditional scones, cream and jam served with a cup of tea"

Pic: iStockphoto

And when it comes to another contentious issue, how we should pronounce the word “scone”, the majority (56 percent) of Britons insist it should rhyme with “gone”, while 44 percent believe it should be pronounced like “bone”. In fact, so heated is the debate over how to prepare and pronounce the humble scone, 21 percent of us have had an argument over how to say the word, while 14 percent of us have fallen out over the jam and cream issue. 

But the survey by Village Hotel Club, who have been working with Candice Brown to create the perfect afternoon tea, also suggests a huge resurgence in the traditional British afternoon tea, with the younger generation keeping the 18th century tradition alive. In fact, 64 percent of 16-29-year olds said they regularly enjoy a traditional British afternoon tea, compared to 57 percent of over 60s. According to the Brits polled, the perfect afternoon tea should be taken at exactly 3pm, outside on a summer’s day, with four people. 

Full Tea Cup and Half Glass Pot

Pic: iStockphoto

According to nearly six in ten, English breakfast is the only tea to drink, while one in ten would like to be given a pot of Darjeeling – known as the champagne of tea. However, three in ten want something a little stronger with their sandwiches and cakes, with 30 percent opting for a glass of Prosecco, while an extravagant 24 percent wanted a glass of real Champagne. 

Afternoon tea was first introduced to England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford in 1840, the aristocrat would complain of being hungry at 4pm and would have servants bring her tea bread and butter. And according to the study, a proper afternoon tea should be served on fine bone china plates, with silver spoons and forks and accompanied with an extra pot of water for tea top ups, the poll suggests. 

Candice Brown with dough

Candice Brown, Village Hotel Club Food & Drink Ambassador, comments: “It might be one of the most long-lasting British debates and although Village Hotel’s research shows that the majority of people think it’s jam before cream on a scone, but it’s definitely jam after cream for me! Although, we can promise that if you come and try my new Afternoon Tea at Village Hotel Club this summer, you can enjoy it however you choose.” 

Mark McMahon, General Manager at Village Hotel Club, who have been working with Candice Brown to create the perfect afternoon tea says: “We have loved working with the Queen of baking to create an Afternoon Tea that is a real twist on the classic.  Considering this new research has revealed that over 80% of people would rather have an Afternoon Tea than a pint with pals in a pub, we’re proud to now be able to offer this popular British pastime at a price that won’t break the bank.” 

Victoria Sponge Cake

Pic: iStockphoto

And when it comes to the nation’s favourite cake the Victoria sponge (50 percent) still reigns supreme. Named after Queen Victoria who was partial to a slice of sponge served with her afternoon tea, it beat off competition from the lemon Drizzle cake (35 percent), the chocolate cake (35 percent) and strawberry tart (31 percent) to be crowned Brits’ favourite sweet treat. 

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Egg and cress (51 percent) emerged as Brits favourite afternoon tea sandwich, followed by classic cucumber (41 percent) and smoked salmon and cream cheese (38 percent). More than two in ten would love to tuck into a coronation chicken – first created in 1953 to celebrate the coronation of Elizabeth II – while 36 percent wanted a simple ham salad sarnie and 34 percent wanted Tuna mayo. 

A staggering 81 percent said they would rather have an afternoon tea than a pint with pals in a pub, while 59 percent said afternoon tea was one of this country’s greatest culinary inventions. When it comes to the things that have no place at an afternoon tea, plastic cutlery topped the list, followed by paper plates, pints of lager or beer, corned beef sandwiches or crisps.


Moira Chisholm

I'm the Health Editor on My Weekly and am always interested to hear what's new in this fascinating field. I also deal with the gardening, shopping pages, general features, our website content and the Ask Helen problem page. I have a special interest in Christmas content because I'm on the team for Your Best Ever Christmas Magazine, too!