In Search of our Throwaway History

Colman’s celebrate 200 years

Posted on May 20, 2014

Congratulations to Colman’s mustard as they join an exclusive club of brands who have survived over 200 years of trading.  As with so many such stories, it has been quite a journey – the bull’s head trade mark arrived in 1855, the Mustard Club in the 1920s, and then in the 1970s the pack design reached an all-time low, but was fortunately restored to its former glory (now with the bull’s head looking the other way).

Colman's mustard through the ages

Colman’s mustard through the ages

200 years celebration mustard pots

Collectors items? 200 years celebration mustard pots

Colman’s promotional items

Like so many major companies at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, Colman’s produced a wide range of promotional items to ensure their name was continually in front of customers eyes – a constant reminder.  Apart from posters that appeared on walls and hoardings, and showcards that were placed in shop windows, and advertisements in newspapers and magazines, there were a plethora of other ways to communicate.  Quite often the same image created for a poster, as in the picture below for ‘Returned from Klondyke’ illustrated by John Hassall, would be used in many different situations, whether as a postcard, leaflet or trade card given away by the grocer to customer’s children.

Colman's promotional items

Colman’s promotional items

Colman’s were at the forefront in producing booklets for young folk at Christmas time.  Each year from the 1890s through to the 1930s, a special story or a traditional one was beautifully produced, sometimes with illustrations from a well-known artist such as here with Will Owen for ‘The Adventures of Bingo and the Mustard Tin’.  Promotional novelties like tape measures, pin holders, tooth picks, tobacco holders, pencil sharpeners, puzzles and card games were all part of the message-makers dream.

 200 years and over club

Other brands reaching 200 years include Schweppes (since the1790s), Guinness (1759) and Twinings tea (1706).  The thing that all these products have in common is that they were named after their creators. In Robert Opie’s new two-hour documentary, ‘In Search of Our Throwaway History’, the story of how brand names develop is revealed, along with how much brands mean to us today – sharing memories and nostalgia.  The DVD contains a pulsating 3,500 graphic and colourful items which together tell the remarkable story of the consumer revolution.

Vote for your favourite

Long lasting or not,do you have a favourite brand? Why not vote for your top three in our online poll on this site (click on the Tell us your Favourites tab at the top of the page).


All images on this page © Robert Opie

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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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