Food in the 1960s: What else were we eating?
Those two scamps from Miss Judge’s class back in 1964, Barry Ward and Ronnie Hughes, on what else they were stuffing their cheery faces with back in those childhood days.
Early in the sixties there were two ice cream men came to our street. ‘Lyon’s Maid’ as pictured here, and ‘Wall’s.’ And they hated each other. ‘Has he been?’ they would always demand if they weren’t getting much of a queue on any given day.
And in our street it was never us children did the buying like here. But our mothers, who would anxiously be pleaded with to ‘Come out quick before he goes!’ And, arms folded, clutching purses, they would each emerge from their housewifely homes and get us what we craved.
Same for Barry:
“The excitement when I heard the jolly tune of the ice-cream van coming up the road, the mild panic if parents having agreed to buy ice creams couldn’t find any change, in case the queue died down and the van went!”
And what was Barry craving over in his road?
“I don’t think there was as much choice as now, although I always used to agonise as to which combination of ice-cream provided the best value….probably on reflection, the rectangular slab between 2 wafers, rather than a cone, although on the other hand the cone enabled you to have some syrupy stuff on top. Best of all…the ’99’…ice cream, a cone AND a Cadbury’s Flake !”
I remember the ice cream in the illustration here. In blocks, before the vans could all do soft ice-cream.
Mind you, as time moved on the choice did get wider.
I always thought Zoom was an imitation of the spaceship in early Gerry and Sylvia Anderson puppet show ‘Fireball XL5’. Back in the days before everything was branded and marketed across sectors. Mars Bars, for example, were many years away from becoming ice creams too.
Outside the controlled world of the warring ice cream men, though, there were other ice creams you could get. And I always remember getting this one from a shop at The Meadows, next to the park. We’d come in hot and happy after playing football (usually ‘Three and in’) and ask for – cue reverential music for the greatest ice-cream in human history…
“To this day I can’t think of anyone called Pendleton without thinking of the phrase ‘What could be nicer than a Pendleton’s Twicer.’
I was so disappointed that Victoria Pendleton didn’t win two gold medals at the 2012 Olympics, because I was sure the headline had already been written by sub-editors throughout the land.”
Some while back there was an attempt by serious ice-cream workers and historians to re-introduce ‘The Twicer’ – still lolly ice on the outside, ice cream in the middle. But it was once again foiled by the big boys, who wouldn’t let it in their fridges inside the shops. The sort of thing a responsible Government should be keeping an eye on.
Pausing only to mention Strawberry Mivvis, same idea as a Twicer but never quite equal, lets move on to what else we could force into our growing, but by now, groaning bodies.
“Crisps….initially there were only 2 flavours as I recall…plain and salt & vinegar. The more exotic Cheese & Onion didn’t come in until later on in the decade. The little blue wrappers probably contained enough salt for your recommended weekly intake…although such precautions weren’t invented then!”
And at first I only remember one company, Smith’s having the market to themselves, until Golden Wonder came along and things got all modern. Grease proof paper bags were replaced with plastic, and the little twists of blue paper with the salt in disappeared too. But Smith’s were still determined to keep up with the times:
Don’t much like the sound of ‘Hamburger’ though. Don’t think that lasted – or maybe they just changed its name to ‘Smoky Bacon’?
Anyway, that’s it. I can’t eat another thing. I’m going back in the house for a drink of lemonade!
“Lemonade. Sarsaparilla, Dandelion & Burdock, Tizer, Green Soda. Do you remember the tops with rubber stoppers that sometimes were quite difficult to remove ? And of course the weekly treck round the estate, helpfully offering to take back the empty bottles to Lucy’s Sweet Shop, in the full knowledge that there was a refundable deposit. A good few of my neighbours always let me keep the deposit, which of course was instantly converted into sweets.”
As a huge fan of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, I always wanted to taste Ginger Beer, but I remember the disappointment to this day when I realised I didn’t like it!”
Same here. And a year or two back I ordered a ‘Dandelion & Burdock’ that some retro-lemonade company was making. And it was so sweet and sickly I couldn’t finish it. Our taste buds were obviously different when we slurped down lemonade in the 1960s.
Lemonade, before the days when Coca Cola took over the fizzy drinks market. And always drunk out of glasses like these:
Well I’m full now, so the last word goes to Barry, who always had room for just a bit more.
“The other drink that springs to mind, although not strictly speaking lemonade, was the kia-ora orange juice that came in little cartons at the Albany Cinema. I don’t think you could buy bottles of this in the shops at the time, and it was the nicest tasting orange juice around, an additional treat to going to the pictures.”
“On a similar theme there were huge frozen pyramid shaped blocks of frozen orange juice called ‘Jubbly’ which lasted ages. Once you’d managed to get a corner of the cardboard cover off that is! Quite difficult to do as I recall.”
And with that, we complete our ‘Food in the 1960s’ trilogy. But don’t worry, we’ll be back with more memories very soon!