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YOU'VE NEVER HAD IT SO FOOD; Childhood favourites that made our mouths water ..

Byline: Sally McLean

IN these days of organic, wholefood, gluten-free and fusion foods, it's hard to believe we didn't always watch our fat, sugar and salt intakes daily.

But remember the days of the instant, sugar-packed, factory-made grub from our childhood? From the alchemy in a bowl that is Angel Delight to Heinz Sandwich Spread with its satisfyingly pickled taste, they were the foods that made Britain great.

Now a new book, Battenberg Britain, has taken a nostalgic look back at the affordable, easy-to-make tins and packages on which we feasted before dashing out to play in the street, safe in the knowledge it was always sunny and a bit of dirt was not going to kill you.

Here are some examples to tickle your tastebuds, or perhaps turn your stomach.


It's easy to forget that, before 1967, pudding was probably jelly or sliced peaches with evaporated milk if you were lucky. So how could anyone forget that first, heavenly experience of Angel Delight, the dessert with an addictively synthetic taste? For us, it was right up there with the first time we heard the Beach Boys singing GoodVibrations.

Rip open the sachet, tip the mixture into a dish, whip it up with milk - and there you have it. A runny liquid turns into a light, smooth mousse before your very eyes.


There were so many weird things that only appeared in the shops in December in the Sixties and Seventies - net stockings stuffed with chocolate bars, tins of bright green Turkish delight,Warninks Advocaat, Eat Me Dates and cheese footballs.

These anaemic-looking wafer spheres crammed with odd-tasting cheese are strangely irresistible when you're lying like a stranded whale in front of the Bond movie after Christmas dinner.


The frozen dessert has always inspired deep affection. This is remarkable because it's just sponge stuck to a log of plain vanilla ice cream with a smear of jam. But in the Seventies, it was all but piped into the dining room.

Birds Eye and Lyons Maid have relaunched their own versions.


Like the royal family, Battenberg has a guilty and not-very-well-kept secret. It's German.

Despite internet rumours that it was invented by Hitler's granny, it remains right up there with teatime favourites such as Bakewell tarts, Eccles cakes and fondant fancies.

It was the one cake guaranteed to brighten up the drabbest maiden aunt's tea table in the monochrome Britain of the Fifties and Sixties.


You may be surprised to hear this ageing lunch-box favourite hasn't disappeared along with Funny Feet ice creams or Chef Square Shaped Soup. Those green-labelled jars of chopped celery, carrot, gherkin and red pepper in a mayonnaisey sauce are still around.


Svelte in its cardboard sleeve, Neapolitan was always classier than its soft-scoop, plastic-tub rivals. It smelled of cafes on the Costa del Sol, where the ice cream came in tall-stemmed frosted glass dishes.

Even at home, it was always a special moment when we watched mum wield a ruler to make sure there was no sibling sniping about who got the biggest helping.


This is undeniably odd. If you baked a cake and it turned out like the dark, squidgy malt loaf , you'd probably bin it and try a different recipe.

This, of course, would be a mistake because it's supposed to look like that. The extraordinarily dense texture means cutting neat slices is a complex skill that takes years of practice. OK, you can now buy pre-cut versions, but the slices just weld themselves together again after a day or two and you're back to square one.


If you find it hard to fight your way into a can nowadays, think how much trickier it was when the opening instructions involved a hammer and chisel. Tins with a key opener first went on sale in 1866 and have been lacerating fingers of corned-beef fans ever since.


Is anything sweeter than sugar? Yes, Lyle's Golden Syrup. Apparently this is a scientific fact, although the details are a bit technical. Its devotees are the sort of patients who make dentists start leafing through exotic holiday brochures.

Battenberg Britain, by Nigel Cassidy and Phillippa Lamb, is published by Michael O'Mara Books, pounds 10


EAT YOUR HEART OUT: Angel Delight and Battenberg cake were in nearly every home in the Sixties
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 9, 2009
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