IT IS widely believed that marmalade as we know it today was invented in Dundee. But now the story has been shredded by a top food historian who says it was the English not the Scots who created the preserve.

Ivan Day, the English food historian and judge at yesterday's World Original Marmalade Awards in Cumbria, has controversially claimed that it was not Janet Keiller who invented Paddington bear's favourite preserve from a bargain shipload of bitter Seville oranges at Dundee harbour in the early 18th century as previously thought.

In fact, the historian insists, the shredding technique which is said to be Keiller's distinctive trademark was already being used in England.

In a claim that is sure to have Scots everywhere choking on their breakfasts, he added: "There’s no real evidence for all the stuff about Janet Keiller, though I’d get my throat cut if I said that in Dundee.

"By the 1660s there were English recipes for apple jelly with strips of peel for both appearance and flavour. This undermines the rather wonderful story about Janet Keiller. It does worry me when food becomes embalmed in nationalism."

He also made toast of the idea that the modern word marmalade was connected to Mary Queen of Scots. It is said that the Scottish queen was given "marmelos", an early form of marmalade made of Portuguese quinces, as a remedy for seasickness on the boat over from France in 1561.

It was so effective that she asked for it again while living in Scotland. "Marmelos" – or marmalade – became the remedy for "Marie La Malade" - sea sickness.

However, Day said this was "nonsense". "Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare were enjoying an early form of marmalade at the same time as Mary Queen of Scots," he added.

"Quince paste was being imported to docks at London, Bristol and Liverpool from the 13th century. So this story has no grounds in reality at all."

He did concede however that Scots, rather than the English, were the first to eat marmalade for breakfast.

"The really only Scottish thing about marmalade is that the Scots were first to serve it at breakfast in the 18th century," he said. "So the iconic British breakfast actually originated in Scotland."

Despite that, England slaughtered Scotland in yesterday's marmalade championships – which attracted over 3,000 entries to events at Dalemain, Rheged and Penrith in Cumbria – winning six of the eight categories.

However, there was a glimmer of hope for Dundonians as Catherine Lawson from Dundee was one of only two Scottish winners, taking Gold in the Homemade category, alongside fellow Scot Anne Reith of Angus.