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.

Well we’ve looked at ‘proper’ food and found it was actually quite good. And we’ve looked at ‘sweets’ and found that the dentists of the 1960s were more dangerous for our teeth than sweets.

But what’s that joyous noise from out in the north Liverpool street? It’s the ice cream man!451px-Lyons_Maid_Ice_Cream_Van

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?

"Good and big!' Just what Barry wants.
“Good and big!” Just what Barry wants.

“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 don't remember Wonder Cake, but I definitely remember Zoom.
I don’t remember Wonder Cake, but I definitely remember Zoom.

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.

Lyon's Maid, the range develops.
Lyon’s Maid, the range develops.

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…

A Pendleton's Twicer.
A Pendleton’s Twicer.

“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!”

Scan 6And 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:airc65

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.”3690068835_ab4c2ac496_z

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.”

At the pictures, enjoying a cool Kia-Ora.
At the pictures, enjoying a cool Kia-Ora.

“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.”

Yes, look at those tricky corners.
Yes, look at those tricky corners.

And with that, we complete our ‘Food in the 1960s’ trilogy. But don’t worry, we’ll be back with more memories very soon!

See also: ‘Food in the 1960s: Actually it was quite good’ and ‘Sweets in the 1960s. Or, where did all those fillings come from?’

Plus ‘Food in the 1970s: What went wrong?’

Published by Ronnie

Writing about life, Liverpool and anything else that interests me. As well as working with others to make the world a fairer and kinder place:

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  1. Have to agree about ice cream between two wafers. Loved licking the ice cream all around the edges before biting into it and making the ice cream squidge out everywhere. Messy memories! And did you ever get those square cones too? Just right for unwrapping and popping in a small block of ice cream! Dandelion & Burdock. Never saw the appeal myself. Like I said once before, it was that toxic looking, lime yellow Corona that did it for me. Great stuff!!

    1. Don’t remember the square cones, we had the oblong ones illustrated here.

      And thinking back, a lot of the drinks looked toxic, and given what we now know about food additives, probably were! (There is in fact a little bit of evidence around that sassafras, one of the main ingredients of sarsaparilla, may indeed be toxic.)

  2. I found ginger beer very disappointing too, perhaps because there was no adventurein the offering. (You could devote an entire blog to those enticing meals eaten by the Famous Five completely free from adult interference ).

    We had square cones here on the other side of the world. They were often used for coloured iceblocks that were put together at home.I notice the low fat milk used by Pendleton’s twicer- was this an early stand against obesity, I wonder?

    Never mind the high salt content, Smith’s crisps tasted quite different when one used the twist of blue paper to salt one’s own delicious handful.

    Lemonade in those retro glasses reminds me of milkbars when drinks including milkshakes were always served in real glass.The dawn of the nasty paper or plastic cup was still to come.
    More please this is excellent stuff….

    1. So, square cones remembered from Norfolk to Australia but NOT in Liverpool?

      And the Pendleton’s wrapper actually says ‘non-milk fat,’ as in ‘it tasted wonderful but it could have been made from the left-over bits of virtually anything.’ Which I find retrospectively worrying!

  3. I remember Pendletons ice cream from Moores on Broadway. Loved Twicers or Lyons Maid Cornish Mivis. Jubblies were difficult to open and we always sucked all the juice out and were left with a lump of ice. We used to buy ‘Full Swing’ Dandelion and Burdock and Cream Soda from the Cafe on the corner of Broadway.

  4. Wow, such happy memories. I seem to remember that every “Corpy” bus had a Pendletons Twicer advert on the panel downstairs at the front of the bus between the drivers window, which always had the blind drawn and the window that looked out over the engine and on to the road.
    Zoom was indeed a Fireball XL5 thing and I remember the puppets, Steve Mercury and Venus advertising them on telly…shades of a later product called FAB, advertised by Lady Penelope.
    Can you resolve an argument? I’ve always called these Lolly Ices. Now living in Coventry every body calls them Iced Lollies. Was this just a Liverpool thing?
    My Mother who Mrs Bouquet must have been based on – she was from Stroud and deffo a “scoan” person as opposed to a “scon”, would never allow me to have a lolly ice, I had to have a cornet or a wafer sandwich. Yes I do remember the oblong slabs of ice cream and the wafer cornets that the fitted so well. She always had a Orange Maid!!! I never did figure that one out. We lived in the Black Bull estate which she insisted was in Aintree, although all the signs said Fazakerley
    There was a shop up by Walton Church, now long gone where you could for the princely sum of 3d, buy a pint of draft Dandelion and Burdock.
    Anyone remember the Electric “milk” floats that Craig’s Pantry operated? Forerunner of Scott’s, they would deliver the bread to people’s houses.
    Anyway, happy memories of carefree days, and thanks for reminding me of them.


    Martin Gliddon

  5. I remember the ice cream coming by every Sunday night to our street in Alderfield drive at the edge of the Speke estate. There were 10 in my family and 3 more if my uncle Dick was over. The order would go out for 13 cornets. It was the best!

  6. I came to this site trying to remember where I had seen the name Pendleton’s. I was born and raised in Liverpool and now live in California. My daughter joined the Marines and spent time at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. What could be nicer than a Pendleton’s twicer — got it!

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