Retro revival

Nostalgia for times gone by has seen some of our favourite childhood treats back on the shelves, but are they best left in the past?

Bird's custard powderAs the credit crunch bites, it seems we've all developed a yearning for foods from times past. Discontinued foods from years gone by such as Arctic Roll have been resurrected - and sales are booming. Likewise Bird's custard powder and Fray Bentos pies (favourite standbys of every student kitchen) are also enjoying a revival, as are ready-made sandwiches with passé fillings such as coronation chicken, ham salad and salad cream, and strawberry jam.

There's some ingenious marketing of these old favourites - long forgotten television adverts from the past 50 years are being revived and have cleverly caught the mood of the current nostalgia by taking us back to a more prosperous and happier time in our lives. The ads are also less costly, as it's more economical to recycle an old advert than to create a new one.

Supermarkets too have been quick to tune into the public sentiment. One enterprising idea late last year was a range of 'forgotten cuts of meat' featuring cheap cuts which need longer cooking than more expensive steaks and chops. My butcher would argue that these cuts had never gone away as far as he's concerned, but to a section of the public who only ever shop in supermarkets, these cheaper cuts were as strange and unfamiliar as exotic mushrooms would have been to our grandparents. The lower-priced cuts sold very well, so consequently this summer more easy-on-the-pocket meats are being promoted for the barbecue market, such as rolled pork shoulder and beef ribs.

If I could choose which foods I'd like to make a comeback, my favourites would include Kunzl cakes (chocolate Coronation chicken pitta breadsshells filled with fondant cream, sponge cake and topped with chocolate or small sweets), Ovaltine tablets and chocolate, Tiger Nuts and Camp coffee - anyone else remember these? My grandmother used to buy Camp coffee and although it wouldn't match up to our idea of coffee today, it was very useful for making coffee cakes and icing. She also used to make Blancmange as a treat for her grandchildren. Today's children have probably never even heard of this pale wobbly set milk pudding, which came in a range of flavours from strawberry to chocolate.

roast porkThere are some foods I'm not sorry to see the back of and wouldn't want them to return- those awful dehydrated curries sold in boxes; an anaemic looking gloop optimistically named Sandwich Spread and dehydrated mashed potato which tasted nothing like the real thing.


Any other foods from the past you loved or hated?