In Search of our Throwaway History

May the ‘Force’ be with you?

Posted on May 6, 2014

It would be nice to say ‘May the Force be with you’, but regrettably a year ago the much-loved breakfast cereal Force was discontinued.  Having been launched over a century ago in 1902, it became a firm favourite as the cereal market grew through the first half of the 20th century.

During the Second World War, breakfast cereals were zoned to save on transport costs, so Kellogg’s supplied shops in the North West, Weetabix was mostly available in the Midlands, while Force was zoned to the South of England.

It took time for Force to recover from the austerity years, and loyal fans waited for shops to restock with the delicate taste of those toasted wheat flakes.  But the cereal market was evolving, with the introduction of sugar-coated varieties and other new tastes.  Force was being pushed aside.  Even with the eventual takeover by Nestlé, it was not possible to save this much-cherished brand.

Force breakfast cereal

Force breakfast cereal

Force  - Sunny Jim

In its heyday, Force vied with Shredded Wheat to be Britain’s top breakfast cereal.  They were one of the first to use a self-generated character, Sunny Jim, who appeared on the box, in advertisements and on promotional items such as jigsaw puzzles.  By saving coupons, parents could send away for a Sunny Jim doll, many of which still survive to this day.
The other thing that still survives are all those memories of what Force meant to us.  In Robert Opie’s two-hour documentary ‘In Search of Our Throwaway History’ there over a hundred memory moments.  Force is remembered along with recollections of Lyon’s Individual Fruit Pies, Aqua Manda, Spangles and many more.  Lovers of nostalgia will revel in this colourful parade of over 3,500 packs and ads that trace the evolution of our consumer culture.

Who knows …. one day, the Force may be with us again; after all, we have seen the return of Golden Nuggets, Wispa and Birds Eye Arctic Roll.

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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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