In Search of our Throwaway History

Grape-nuts : a Victorian breakfast

Posted on May 15, 2014

Just had a bowl of Grape-nuts flakes, which have recently arrived at my local Waitrose (£2.29).  The flakes are a bit like Force cereal, which has regrettably just vanished from our shelves, but unfortunately they do not have quite the same subtle taste.  Imported from the USA, the original Grape-nuts were created by C W Post in 1897, and Britain was soon getting supplies of this early breakfast cereal.


Grape-nuts past and present

Grape-nuts past and present

Grape-nuts -’fully cooked and pre-digested’

In late Victorian Britain, nobody had seen a ‘fully cooked, pre-digested breakfast food’ before, and the directions on the packet included the warning, ‘Don’t try to cook this food, it is perfectly cooked at the factory’.  That direction has long since disappeared from the Grape-nuts pack, which I hasten to add is still available from selected outlets.

Like so many products,  breakfast cereal is another convenient ready meal.  Its story, along with many others, is told in Robert Opie’s new two-hour documentary that’s stuffed full of memories, nostalgia and fascinating facts.  In Search of Our Throwaway History is like a travelogue of supermarket brands, favourites from our past … and that of our grandparents.  Available from the Museum of Brands and

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Sweet nostalgia

Posted on April 30, 2014

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion and perhaps the strongest of emotions are stirred by childhood sweets.  Seeing a pack of Rowntree’s Texan, Cadbury’s Ice Breaker, Amazin raisin bar, Pacers,  Cabana, or even the strawberry flavour Pink Panther bar, will instantly transport us back to the 1970s and 80s – whether we like it or not.

Sweet nostalgia

Sweet nostalgia

Nostalgia for Childhood Sweets

We will all have our favourites. For older generations, the classic bar was one of the first milk chocolate brands to be launched – Fry’s Five Boys, in 1902.  It was still available in the early 1970s showing the transformation of a boy’s face, moving from desperation through to pacification, expectation, acclamation, and finally realisation it’s Fry’s.  This classic promotional message had been used to promote Fry’s chocolate way before their introduction of milk chocolate.

For those who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, sweet nostalgia is heightened by memories for the delicious taste of the Fry’s 5 Centre bar, the wonder of variety in the Milk Tray bar, or the excitement of orange liqueur in Cadbury’s Grand Seville.

However, some people are still traumatised by the name change of Marathon to Snickers, or Opal Fruits to Starburst.  Others will mourn the demise of brands like Aztec, Rumba, Super Mousse, Feast, Welcome or Rowntree’s Nutty.

Fear not, nostalgia lovers, help is here with Robert Opie’s new DVD ‘In Search of Our Throwaway History’ – an extravaganza of emotion and memories that cover breakfast cereals, crisps, puddings, ice lollies and lots more which we have probably forgotten about.  The result is a massive insight into how, when and why our burgeoning consumer world has come about; but it is also a personal story, all wrapped up in a fascinating two-hour documentary that touches us all.

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In Search of Our Throwaway History - produced and directed by SIMON J FRITH presented by ROBERT OPIE written by ROBERT OPIE and JIM COGAN executive producer JAMES OXLEY-BRENNAN cinematography PETER CURTIS editing PETER CURTIS and ANGELA MAKEPEACE

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