In 1870, in the Franco-Prussian War, Napoleon III ordered one million cans of beef to feed his troops. The task of providing all this beef went to a Scotsman living in Canada named John Lawson Johnston. Large quantities of beef were available across the British Dominions and South America, but its transport and storage were problematic. Therefore, Johnston created a product known as 'Johnston's Fluid Beef', later called Bovril, to meet the needs of Napoleon III. By 1888, over 3,000 UK public houses, grocers and dispensing chemists were selling Bovril. In 1889, the Bovril Company was formed.
Bovril is the trademarked name of a thick, salty meat extract, developed in the 1870s by John Lawson Johnston. It is sold in a distinctive, bulbous jar. Bovril is made in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire; owned and distributed by Unilever UK.
Bovril can be made into a drink by diluting with hot water, or less commonly, with milk. It can be used as a flavouring for soups, stews or porridge, or spread on bread, especially on toast in a similar fashion to Marmite and Vegemite.