The Queen’s Jubilee: Ceres Celebrates 70 years of British Food
The much-anticipated Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend is almost here, as the nation prepares to celebrate 70 years of The Queen’s service - the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee! With so much talk of new products, street parties and recipes, it got us thinking about the most iconic foodie moments throughout the decades…
As the Queen came to the throne in 1952, rationing of items such as sugar, butter, cheese, bacon and meat was still very much in full force. There were no supermarkets and the only takeaway food available was from the fish and chip shop. Our favourite foods consisted of spam fritters, tinned fruit with evaporated milk, salmon sandwiches and ham salad. We’d enjoy fish on Fridays and have high tea every Sunday.
Britain welcomed “A book of Mediterranean food” by Elizabeth David who had returned to a post-war England after years of living in the Mediterranean. The book brought light and colour back to English cooking with simple fresh ingredients, even though many ingredients were scarce at the time.
Through the rise in immigration from the former British colonies and a boom in the British economy in the late 60s, new flavours arrived in the UK. Tasty new foods and ingredients were introduced to the British palate including sirloin steak, chicken Kiev and prawn cocktail, with restaurants starting to serve spaghetti bolognese with chips. This was also the decade that sell-by dates were first introduced on food packaging wrappers.
We enjoyed watching Fanny Craddock’s cooking shows with a pen and pad at the ready to note down the recipes and learn how to cook. Her shows included: Happy Cooking (1961 – 1963, a regular spot on the children’s programme called “Tuesday Rendezvous”), The Cradocks (1962) and Giving A Dinner Party (1969).
While we were enjoying eating out more, we were also looking for ways to make cooking at home easier in the 1970’s. Delia Smith brought us “How to cheat at cooking” which became the ultimate guide on how to combine store-cupboard products to reduce the time and effort needed when creating meals at home. Whilst instant mash brand, Smash, introduced us to the Smash Martians in a television advert mocking humans making mashed potato in the traditional way. Hovis also released its now infamous television advert “the boy on a bike” which has since been voted the most iconic and heart-warming advert some 50 years on.
Having launched in 1967, Mr Kipling, the brand of cakes, pies and baked goods whose name was invented for marketing purposes, became the UK’s largest cake manufacturer in a bid to sell cakes of a local baker's standard to supermarkets.
There were a number of iconic launches in the 80’s… Marks and Spencer lead the way with the launch of pre-packaged sandwiches - salmon & cucumber and egg & cress priced at 43p. BBC Good Food magazine launched, offering its readers tips and techniques for cooks of all skill levels as well as sharing imaginative easy to make recipes. Rick Stein released his “English Seafood Cookery” book, featuring the recipes he served at his restaurant in Padstow. And Oxo launched “The Oxo family,” one of British TV’s most successful soap operas – acted out in the commercial breaks – which ran for 16 years.
In the decade which saw Tango release its “You’ve Been Tango’d” advert, TV cooking shows became more prevalent and popular with the likes of Ready, Steady, Cook – a daytime cooking game show presented by Fern Britton - and Masterchef - The British Grand Prix, for Amateur Chefs, judged by host Lloyd Grossman and guests Richard Shepherd and Michael Caine, capturing wide audiences.
In 1990, Chef Marco Pierre White released his book “White Heat” part autobiography, part cookbook, described by one critic as "possibly the most influential recipe book of the last 20 years"
The 2000’s was a decade dominated by Jamie Oliver who launched his “Feed Me Better” campaign to introduce school children to healthier foods – as well as opening his first restaurant, Jamie’s Italian and announcing his 30-Minute Meals cookbook which launched in 2010 and remains to this day a best-seller. In 2003, we saw two new food magazine launches with Olive and Delicious hitting the shelves, while our TV’s were graced with a Drumming Gorilla thanks to Cadbury’s and Mr T encouraging us all to “Get Some Nuts” with Snickers. The decade also saw the rise of the now infamous Atkins Diet, thanks to a number of celebrity endorsements, which restricts carbohydrates while focusing on protein and fats.
Launched in August 2010, the Great British Bake Off – judged then by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood - stole our hearts and got the nation falling in love with baking, with shops in the UK reporting sharp rises in sales of baking ingredients. The 10’s also witnessed the launch of food delivery apps, including Deliveroo in 2013, and the nation took a greater interest in its diets and the planet with the rise of veganism. Food and Living Magazine launched in 2015 whilst plant-based food & wellness platform Deliciously Ella grew rapidly from an online blog to an app and then cook book in January 2015, which became the best-selling debut cookbook of all time in the UK.
The 20’s has already seen food shortages as well as the rise in takeaways, food deliveries, home cooking meal kits, influencers and the continued rise of Joe Wicks… and we’re only 2 years into the decade! It’ll be interesting to see the what’s to come for British food over the next 70 years.