Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Retro thoughts

I read something in the newspaper the other day that the more stressful our lives become in the current financial situation, the perceived threat of global warming etc, the more we return to the comforting nostalgia of the past. This particularly so regarding food, with "retro recipes" becoming popular - casseroles and stews, pies, rib-sticking puddings like granny used to make. Apparently Wagon Wheels and Angel Delight are having a new heyday; Arctic Rolls (I remember those with great fondness, as do my children actually!), Cadbury's Whispa bars, and even Findus Crispy Pancakes (pass). Jan Moir wrote about this in the Daily Mail a couple of weeks ago, and put this nostalgia down to us wishing to subliminally live in another age, where we felt "safe"- we are fooling ourselves (through food) that everything is fine. It's no wonder that people have been making Cup Cakes - which to me is an Americanism - I divide such things into Fairy Cakes (small) or Muffins (big)! What makes me laugh is the prettified cakes on sale for ridiculous prices - almost a pound apiece in some upmarket shops.

Apparently Waitrose has pricked up its ears and noticed a niche market which had formerly been overlooked - boiled sweets (that should please the dentists out there). They got their customers to vote for their favourites and the short list included pineapple chunks, kola cubes (I bought some only last month!), rhubarb and custard and sherbert lemons. Record sales of other "retro" foods have also been reported - Penguin bars (my children remember those from Grannie's choc bar tin), Bacon Frazzles and Cloudy Lemonade.

I suppose when Dame Vera Lynn can be "top of the pops" then we really are looking into the past and liking what we see . . .

What is an essential component of your childhood and what foods do you miss/want to have again?

I would like: Vesta Prawn Curry, lots and lots of packets of Potato Puffs, Corona Cherryade (really the best pop and Delivered to Your Door!), Sherbert Dabs, Toffee Crunch or a Toffee Twist stick, Jamboree Bags, Lemonade Powder, a slice of Battenburg cake and orange jelly with a tin of manderins set in it! I'll pass on the Fondue Parties of the 70s though . . .

Now, let's turn to the Home Service - I think we're just in time for Muffin the Mule . . .


  1. I loved fondues ...all kinds ...sorry!! ... best thing if a small group of guests didn't know each other very well ... and liver was fantastic done that way.lol

    Muffin the Mule was great but I loved Whirley Gig with Mr Turnip. ( TV in mid 50's).
    Vesta was how I learnt to cook something different, as there were very very few chinese or indian food places. Gradually I added bits to the meals as the one for 2 never fed more than a hungry 1. Then I just made my own version eventually .... never could do my own crispy noodles , there was something special about Vesta's.
    I had forgotten Corona deliveries ....what excitement on delivery day.
    Woolworths un boxed hollow easter eggs ....every size ...just sitting out in huge trays on the long counters. They were always reduced the day after easter and so I got one on the day and money to buy the cheap ones. They also sold 'slab cake ' by weight ...madeira, angel, and sultana .... they just cut off the amount you wanted and wrapped it... now that I do miss ...too much fancy wrapping now a days.

  2. My son has just looked over my shoulder, seen the Battenburg cake, and asked why we never have those . . . I guess I may have to invest in a "boughten" though I do have a recipe . . .

    Angie - I was never that mad on Fondues, though I preferred to cook meat rather than the cheese-dipping sort.

    If you like 1950s tv, then you're in for a treat if you go to this site: http://www.whirligig-tv.co.uk/

    I think I shall do a blog post about it tomorrow!

    My poor children, when they were little and we were skint, we told them they could have twice as many Easter eggs if they waited until after Easter when they were reduced! We used to have to do the same with beach ice creams too, with none at the beach, but a pack of them or a big tub of ice cream from the supermarket on the way home! Vaguely remember the slab cake being sold by weight, and also our corner shop sold broken biscuits by the pound . . . Gosh, I SO WISH I could just step back inside our corner shop, as I would buy a whole BOXFUL of Potato Puffs. They rocked!!!

  3. Dont remember potatoe puffs but broken biscuits from those square boxes with glass lids... thats how I thought they should be when I was very little ...interesting that my mum recounted the same memory of the biscuit boxes, from her child hood in the 1920's.
    Thanks for the link ...off to have a look

  4. I remember the potato puffs they were wonderful - we used to get them at the school tuck shop. And funnily enough have had cravings for these also - but no one seems to do them any more. And yes the Corona man cherryade was good but I liked the Ice Cream Soda and Dandelion and burdock. Mind you the lemonade was better then too. sherbet dib dabs,lemonade powder, cough candy twist, pick n mix at woollies and all the different fondant chocolate covered sweets; buying the wafer biscuits in the different flavours from Woollies as well. Ah good times.

    Thank you for bringing them back even for a short while



  5. Somehow I missed this post yesterday--and I feel quite left out, as those goodie items sound like British specialties, none of them familiar here. A "bread truck" used to stop twice weekly at my grandfather's farm. We were allowed to buy cupcakes that came two to a pkg. The chocolate kind had a cream filling, then there were white cake ones with a gummy frosting that was shaggy with coconut. If you were careful you could peel off the whole frosting dome in one piece. ERK! Don't think I would like them now!
    My mother was a very plain cook. She made a hamburger/tomato/macaroni soup which I still make--a nice filling thing for a chilly day.

  6. I think I shall have to have a nostalgic post about food this week . . .

  7. I was reared on boiled potatoes for breakfast, dinner and tea. I've No Urge At All to ever eat potatoes again, not even chips, not even crisps ...

  8. TPT - !!! I hope your mum cooked them better than mine - I've never had boiled potatoes in all my grown-up life : )

  9. Must admit along with TPT there was plenty not to like; soggy cabbage, lettuce with slugs still attached, grey mashed potatoes and puddings that still turn my stomach...
    Things I did like including dandelion and burdock, and tizer, were hp sauce sandwiches, cold milk with ovaltine on top and marshmallows floated on top of cocoa...
    As for fondues, love them dearly its my xmas dinner as well ;), could be because I spent a lot of time in Switzerland though....