© Denzil Green
Kitchen Bouquet is a bottled condiment sauce used as an ingredient in cooking, rather than as a table condiment. It is mostly used for its ability to add a dark brown colour. It's generically referred to as a "browning agent."
Brushing it on the top of meat before cooking can help the meat end up with a more well-roasted look.
Kitchen Bouquet can also be used to darken gravy, soups and marinades, and to enhance the colour of foods cooked in the microwave, electric indoor grills or in slow cookers, which might not brown otherwise and end up with an undesirable grey appearance.
Some people think it has no flavour; some people think the flavour is an important part of it; some people don't like the flavour, thinking it tastes burnt. The truth is, the flavour tastes mildly like beef. It is made from herbs, spices, vegetables and water.
It comes in an iconic brown bottle with yellow label whose look hasn't changed for decades . The bottle was glass, but is now plastic. Kitchen Bouquet is used in small quantities, so one bottle lasts a long time.
From time to time, Kitchen Bouquet has been used in alcoholic drinks in place of bitters to add a bit of colour and taste.
It is a favourite of food stylists for how it can make food look deliciously roasted.
It is not the same as Maggi bottled sauce, which is also brown; Maggi has a much stronger, saltier taste.
Kitchen Bouquet is made by the Clorox company of Oakland, California.
A homemade browning agent can be made by putting 1/2 cup (4 oz / 125 g) of brown sugar in a saucepan over very low heat, and stirring it until it starts to melt and turn a darker brown. Then add 2 cups (16 oz / 500 ml) of water, stirring or whisking well until the brown sugar has dissolved in it. Simmer to reduce somewhat, then use or store in refrigerator in a sealed container.
Since February 2006, the product has been free of any trace of gluten -- corn, wheat or otherwise.  But as the formulation has changed over time (for instance, originally it may have contained meat extracts -- see history below), you are best advised to check the label if you have particular concerns.
Compared to several other gravy browners, Kitchen Bouquet is very low sodium: 30mg per tablespoon.
Per teaspoon: 15 calories, 3g carbohydrates, 2g sugars, 0mg fat, 10mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol.
CooksInfo.com has not yet been able to locate any information on circumstances surrounding the actual creation of the product or the actual year it was first bottled for sale.
It was originally named "Tournade's Kitchen Bouquet", as shown on the bottom of this early Kitchen Bouquet Bottle.
Bottom of original bottle: Tournade's Kitchen Bouquet
In 1895, the president of the company was F.W.R. Eschmann.  John Emory Andrus (1841- 1934), known for years as the "Millionaire Straphanger", was also the president at one point in time. 
The first mention that CooksInfo.com has found of Kitchen Bouquet in print dates from 1891:
"Brown sauces of all kinds are made in the same way, the change in color being made (with a good deal of labor) by browning the flour and butter, or (without any risk or bother at all) by making the plain white sauce and adding — at almost any period, but when it is put back on the stove is my own preference -- a French caramel coloring tablet, to be obtained at any grocer's, a teaspoonful of China soy, or a teaspoonful of kitchen bouquet or a little burnt sugar. Kitchen bouquet I like best, but the caramels are very good." -- Thanet, Octave. How to Make Brown Sauce in "Letters from a Self-Made Cook" column. Galveston Daily News. Galveston, Texas. 22 December 1891. Page 12.
Sometimes it was referred to as Kitchen Bouquet, other times by its full name at the time. In April and May of 1893, the grocery store of Bull & Youngblood in Middletown, New York State, advertised "New Today: Kitchen Bouquet for flavoring soups and Gravies...." (Middletown Daily Press. Middletown, New York State. 13 April 1893. Page 2.)
Kitchen Bouqet received a relatively good review from Harvey Washington Wiley, a director of the Good Housekeeping Foundation at the turn of the century: "Palisade Manufacturing Company, West Hoboken, New York. Tournade's Kitchen Bouquet. (A mixture of vegetable and meat extracts with flavoring principles; no preservatives; probably colored with caramel (burnt sugar); harmless and convenient but not "indispensable" as formerly claimed.)" -- Wiley, Harvey W.. 1001 Tests of Foods, Beverages and Toilet Accessories, Good and Otherwise. Hearst's International Library Co. New York. 1914. (first published 1912 by Good Housekeeping Magazine.)
In 1923, Kitchen Bouquet became part of the Foulds Company, as the result of a merger:
"The Fascinating Story of Foulds. The Story of the Making and Marketing of the Foulds’ Line—Macaroni, Spaghetti, Noodles, Vermicelli and Other Wheat Products and the Famous Kitchen Bouquet. .... In 1923 the Foulds Company was formed by the consolidation of the following companies: The Foulds Milling Co., Chicago and Libertyville; Warner Macaroni Co., Syracuse, N.Y.; Woodcock Macaroni Co., Rochester, N.Y.; Palisade Manufacturing Co., manufacturers of Kitchen Bouquet, Hoboken, N.J., and just recently the acquisition of the Cone Company of America, making the well-known Havacone ice cream cone, which gives another product closely allied with the macaroni industry. ....A special folder is also distributed to housewives in connection with Kitchen Bouquet. This product, which has been on the market for forty years, is a flavoring and coloring for soups, gravies and for use in connection with cooking meats, stews and various food combinations. It is used in hotels and restaurants as well as in the home. Kitchen Bouquet is advertised steadily in most of the leading women's magazines." -- The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929; American Memory, Library of Congress. Selected and converted. American Memory, Library of Congress. Washington, DC, 1995.
Just six years later, in 1929, Kitchen Bouquet came under the umbrella of a company called Grocery Store Products Inc. as part of another merger:
"Two weeks ago United Cigar Co, and Tobacco Products Corp. changed hands (TIME, Aug. 26). The hands into which they passed were those of George Kenan Morrow and his brother Frederick. Since the Morrows were known to be interested in a number of food products, Wall Street began to talk of a new food products combination, perhaps rivaling the recent Morgan merger (Standard Brands). Last week, confirming that guess, four companies — Toddy Corp. (chocolate malted milk), Edward H. Jacob (canned mushrooms), Kitchen Bouquet (liquid flavoring extracts), Fould Milling (macaroni) — united in Grocery Store Products Inc., and the name of George Kenan Morrow again figured prominently on the board of directors. More than one quidnunc murmured: "Easy guess where the two Morrows are going, but where did they come from?" The answer was : they came from Canada, from a farm not far from Toronto." -- Business: Two Morrows. Time Magazine. Monday, 2 September 1929.
Kitchen Bouquet was made by the The Grocery Store Products Company for 42 years. In 1971, Kitchen Bouquet was bought by the Clorox Company (spun off from Procter & Gamble in 1969) when it purchased The Grocery Store Products Company:
"In addition, the proposed acquisition of Grocery Store Products Co., a firm which will move Clorox into the new field of specialty foods, is nearing completion.... Grocery Store Products, which Shetterly [Ed. Clorox president] hopes to have in the company by the end of March, would provide the start here with B&B Mushrooms, Kitchen Bouquet and Cream of Rice, a hot cereal." -- Doyle, William. Scrambling Days in Clorox's Past. Oakland Tribune. Oakland California. 28 February 1971. Page 4.
Jules L. Tournade, the owner of what we presume was the company that created Kitchen Bouquet, died in a horse accident in 1891.
"A WELL-KNOWN HOBOKEN MANUFACTURER MEETS DEATH ON THE ROAD.
Jules L. Tournade, proprietor of the Palisade Manufacturing Company, Clinton Avenue, West Hoboken, N. J., was fatally injured on the Peterson Flank Road, opposite Second Street, Hoboken, Wednesday afternoon, and died shortly afterward at his home. Mr. Tournade had recently purchased a team of horses and had taken them out in company with Mr. Frank Davis of the Davis West Hoboken Express to accustom the horses to the railroad and elevated trains.
On the way home along the plank road the reins became entangled and the horses began to back. In attempting to get out of the wagon Mr. Tournade slipped and his foot was firmly wedged between the shaft and the axle. The horses continued backing, and forced the wagon near the edge of the road. A moment later it went over, followed by the horses, and all struck on the jagged rocks, fifteen feet below. Mr. Davis had in the meantime succeeded in getting out of the wagon, but Mr. Tournade suffered fractures of the ribs and skull. He was taken to his home, but all efforts to save his life were without avail.
Mr. Tournade was of French birth, his native town being La Rochelle, France, where he was born in 1836. He came to this country in 1857 in company with his cousin. Jules G.Tournade, who is engaged in the importing business at 25 South William Street, with the firm of Gourd & Tournade. Mr. Jules L. Tournade was at first in business with his cousin and was a member with him of the firm of J. & J. Tournade. This firm, however, dissolved in 1869, and since then Mr. Jules L. Tournade had been in business in New Jersey. He had been successful in business. He leaves a wife and one son, who will probably succeed his father in the business of the company." -- New York Times. New York. 17 July 1891. Page 8.
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-- Laurie Colwin (American writer. 14 June 1944 - 24 October 1992)