Six foods you’ll only remember if you were around in the 1980s

The 1980s weren’t just about boob tubes, New Romanticism and Terry Wogan. There was crazy, funky food too, in all its factory-made, mass-produced glory. Some innovations, such as McCain Oven Chips, which revolutionised the chip market when they launched in 1979, are still going strong. Others have fallen by the wayside – some lamented, some not. Here are six Eighties foods that fell out of favour. Les Dunn reminisces…

Six foods you’ll only remember if you were around in the 1980s

Jacob’s Trio biscuit (1984-2003ish)

Back in the Eighties, if you didn’t have a chocolate covered biscuit bar in your lunchbox at school, you were nobody. Jacob’s was the premier purveyor of such treats, with its Club bar still hogging market share today, but for the chocolate biscuit connoisseur, the esoteric pleasures of the trio were to be savoured, one-third by one-third. As the song in the ad went, the Trio had “not one, not two, but three things in it, chocolate, a biscuit and a toffee taste too”. Still missing it? Stop pining: go and make this ridiculously good millionaire’s shortbread instead.


Hofmeister lager (1982 – 2013)

It’s unlikely there’ll ever be a Facebook campaign to bring back Hofmeister, a 3.2 per cent fizzy lager to make Camra fanatics foam at their beery mouths. Hofmeister’s success, like that of many lagers in the Eighties, owed more to the golden age of TV advertising than its inherently flavoursome properties. Though it sounded German, Hofmeister was a UK-brewed product and, like other similar ‘cooking lagers’, weak and lacking in flavour, so the advertising people tended to focus on these beers’ ‘refreshing’ qualities and their association with having a good time (in the case of the Hofmeister ads, this meant hitting the town with a nattily dressed bear called George). If you’re craving a cold, refreshing summer drink, try making authentic ginger beer. (At about 0.2 per cent alcohol, it’s only a bit weaker than Hofmeister…)

Rowntree’s Drifter in a brown wrapper (1980 – 1988)

This classic confectionery was launched with ads featuring a jive-talking American Huggy Bear-style character teaching the lingo to a small white English boy, with subtitles (yes, advertising wasn’t exactly PC then). Technically the Drifter does still exist, though it’s now made by Nestlé and comes in a blue wrapper. Sacrilege! And anyone who tasted the original will tell you it was better. The Delicious food team haven’t got round to reimagining the Drifter yet (watch this space), so you’ll have to make do with their sublime Twix tart instead…



Cadbury’s Cheesy Criss Cross

Cadbury still had an additional ’s back in the early Eighties, when having an additional ’s was as de rigueur as a wedge haircut or a pair of chunky loafers. These cheesy-filled-and-covered savoury snacks are a bit of a rarity, like the Australian ‘Night Version’ of Duran Duran’s Girls on Film. They were trialled in certain cities by Cadbury’s but deemed too expensive to produce, so never went into full production. There are still people in Leeds who miss them… People of Leeds: make these amazingly cheesy cheese straws to cheer you up.


Hedgehog flavoured crisps (1981- mid Eighties)

The word ‘meme’ wasn’t used much in the Eighties (despite Richard Dawkins coining it in 1976, it’s only caught on since the advent of social media). So let’s call the Eighties obsession with hedgehogs a ‘craze’. It was driven part by a new-found concern with hedgehog conservation, and part by the idea that there was something intrinsically funny about hedgehogs. This probably resulted from a Not The Nine O’ Clock News sketch about lorry drivers running over hedgehogs, then eating them in sandwiches (and yes, that’s Not The 9 O’ Clock News, not Not The 10 O’ Clock News – even time was different then). These crisps, which didn’t actually contain hedgehog (of course) but fell foul of the Office of Fair Trading for implying they did, were a bit of a novelty act, and never destined to last the distance. If you’re looking to re-create them, the Delicious team can’t help, though we can recommend these delectable parsnip crisps, in the making of which, no hedgehogs were harmed.


Burton’s fish ‘n’ chips, fish ‘n’ chip flavour (Early Eighties – early 2000s)

Burton’s great gift to the world of British confectionery is of course the Wagon Wheel, but a lesser-known savoury classic was this 1980s tuck-shop favourite, little savoury biscuits in fish and chip shapes, with an uncanny fish and chip flavour. Owing to a Facebook campaign and a feature in The Sun newspaper, the brand was re-launched last year, though purists reckon the original fish ‘n’ chip flavour was better than the current salt and vinegar. Perhaps the soon-to-launch curry sauce and pickled onion flavours will placate not-quite-satisfied fans… If the thought of fish and chips is making you crave the real thing, here’s a killer recipe.


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