From Crispy Pancakes to Angel Delight – the forgotten food we loved as children
Diets in the UK now are vastly different to what they were just a few decades ago – but what happened to the supermarket staples that were loved and adored around the country?
With every city being littered with Michelin star restaurants and each shop stocking a range of high-end ingredients, it’s easy to eat haute cuisine on a daily basis.
It wasn’t always that way, as entire generations of people were brought up on Spam, Crispy Pancakes, and Angel Delight – but now those foods have been almost lost from living memory, as the Manchester Evening News reports.
Here we take a look back and remember some of the classics, that in their heyday were supermarket staples and on dinner tables up and down the country.
Findus Crispy Pancakes
A supermarket shelf staple for more than 60 years, generations of kids grew up on a regular diet of crispy pancakes.
They used to come in cheese, ham and cheese, and beef flavours, and the only downside was waiting an age for the absolutely molten fillings to cool down enough to eat them.
But in 2019 the snacks were axed and replaced with a new name and new updated fillings.
If your mum and dad bought a SodaStream in the 70s or 80s it wasn’t unusual to find you suddenly acquired a few new friends.
The must-have kitchen appliance of its time saw families suddenly making their own fizzy drinks at home.
Still available today, SodaStreams saw a sales boom during lockdown as carbonated drink fans opted to create their own favourite beverages.
And nowadays you can even use them to make prosecco.
This instant mashed potato would have made a decent wallpaper paste substitute, but on the plus side the advert had a belting jingle.
All together now: ‘For mash get Smash’.
Still found on the menu of chip shops across Wigan, Bolton and Bury, ‘pea wet’ is the juice from the mushy peas used as a kind of gravy/condiment.
In Wigan it’s often slathered across a ‘smack’ – a big slice of fried potato – and slapped on a barm. Delicious.
Billy Bear ham
No trip to the supermarket deli counter was complete without pestering your mum to buy a few slices of Billy Bear ham.
Some stores still sell the lunchbox favourite today, but it’s nowhere near as ubiquitous as it once was.
But, as the old cliche goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder and Billy Bear ham has now gained a bit of a cult status.
You can even buy Billy Bear t shirts.
The corkscrew-shaped poultry strips became the symbol of all that was wrong with our kids’ diets after Jamie Oliver campaigned to have them banned in his 2005 TV show Jamie’s School Dinners.
But not everyone was happy when, amid the furore, manufacturer Bernard Matthews eventually stopped making them.
An online petition in 2018 calling for the return of the Turkey Twizzlers attracted nearly 28,000 signatures.
And last year the firm relaunched the product, saying it had developed a recipe which was ‘healthier and tastier than ever before’.
Basically just sugar and milk whisked together to form a pastel-coloured mousse, for many people Angel Delight is THE taste of childhood.
The classic retro pudding has been on sale for more than 50 years – and in 2017 got a modern makeover when, for the first time, ready whipped pots went on sale.
Food writer Nigel Slater once likened this 1970s dessert to a ‘frozen carpet’ that tasted like ‘cold cardboard’.
That seems a bit harsh. It might not be the most sophisticated pudding in the world, but this ice cream, sponge and jam treat is a long-time family favourite.
Fray Bentos pies
Beloved of students, single men and lazy folk the length and breadth of Britain, the Fray Bentos tinned pie is the ultimate in convenience food.
Even the Queen was said to love nothing more than tucking into a Fray Bentos on long haul flights.
And as we went into lockdown last March sales rocketed as stay-at-home Brits turned to comfort food during the pandemic.
Sure you might be partial to a Spam butty or a bit of fried Spam on a full English from time to time.
But chances are your liking for the canned meat pales into insignificance when compared to Spam superfan Mark Benson.
The Scouser, 42, was such a devotee that in 2017 he changed his middle name to ‘I Love Spam’ and married his fiancee Anne Mousley at the Spam museum in Minnesota.
Sunny Delight was intensely popular for a while, but then a four-year-old girl from Wales reportedly turned yellow after drinking 1.5 litres of the juice a day.
At the time a spokersperson for manufacturers P&G said: “This is excessive consumption, and consumption on that scale would lead to a yellowing of the skin because of the beta-carotene, in the same way as drinking too much carrot juice or orange juice would.”
But thanks to the yellow skin scandal and concerns over the drink’s vitamin content, sales had halved by 2001.
Years later it was eventually re-branded ‘Sunny D’ by a new manufacturer using a completely different recipe.
The scourge of fillings, this fiendishly tough Scottish chew pulled out more teeth than even the most sadistic dentist.
It came in two versions – plain or chocolate – and two sizes, which set you back just 5p or 10p, which was cheap even by the standards of the late 80s.
At the height of their success owners McCowan’s – who were also responsible for the equally chewy Wham bar – sold more than 140m bars in a single year.