What food in the 1950s was like… 229



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Some facts on “eating in the 1950s” were passed to me by my boss this week and I thought you might be interested. In those days:

Brown bread was something only poor people ate.

Pasta was not eaten in Australia.

Curry was a surname.

A takeaway was a mathematical problem.

A Pizza was something to do with a leaning tower.

All potato chips were plain and the only  choice we had was whether to put the salt on or not.

Rice was only eaten as a milk pudding.

Milk was delivered in bottles and the bottles recycled.

Cream came from the top section of the milk.

Calamari was called squid and we used it as fish bait.

Oil was for lubricating, fat was for cooking.

Fat was drained from cooking and kept in bowls and reused.

Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves and never green.

Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days and was regarded as being white gold.  Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.

Fish didn’t have fingers in those days.

Eating raw fish was called poverty, not sushi.

None of us had ever heard of yoghurt.

Healthy food consisted of anything edible.

People who didn’t peel potatoes were regarded as lazy.

Indian restaurants were only found in India.

Cooking outside was called camping.

Seaweed was not a recognised food.

“Kebab” was not even a word, never mind a food.

Prunes were medicinal.

Surprisingly, muesli was readily available, it was called cattle feed.

Water came out of the tap. If someone had suggested bottling it and charging more than petrol for it, they would have become a laughing stock.

Can you add to this list? What other differences between the food of the 50s and today can you share? 

Gill Johnston

  1. I still make tea using tea leaves in a teapot. Some things don’t change.

    10 REPLY
    • Thanks for the memory Julia. Loved bread and dripping “doorstep” after school.

      3 REPLY
      • Me too.
        Mum sprinkled it with sugar and it was Yum
        I tell people now and they think I’m crazy

      • We had bread and dripping with tomato sauce a pepper on it. Loved it.

      • Yes… bread & dripping after school… with lots of salt & pepper. There was usually a rush… & fight for the brown bits at the bottom of the bowl. Lol

    • There’s a real trend developing now with the tea shops opening up . Lots of people going back to tea leaves .

    • I agree with the tealeaves. A real genuine cup of strong hard stuff. I remember when teabags came in mum told us that “swept up from the floor and put in little bags” for people that really didn’t understand “real” tea

  2. You bought olive oil in the Chemist shop for medicinal purposes. Zucchini was unheard of.

    4 REPLY
    • Olive oil was given on a big tablespoon by grandma once as week for good health or sometimes as a punishment.

      1 REPLY
      • We were given CASTOR oil not olive oil.
        My cousin and I would hide the blue bottle at the bottom of the doll’s pram! Of course that never worked!

    • Yes castor oil!!! Yuk!!! I remember my grandmother giving some to my dad when he came home from the pub… That was funny!!!

  3. Eggs – produced by hens grazing in the paddock -not battery hens cooped up all day

  4. Does anyone have a recipe, I used to make it when I was about 18, 2002 but I lost it. Women’s Day or Women’s weekly. Meatloaf cooked in frypan surrounded by tomato soup, water, carrot and onion and cooked for about an hour or so on simmer. It was an insert into the magazine and was foolscap width across but A4 height. Thanks.

    1 REPLY
    • Mary, I still have a lot of supplements from the magazines you mentioned – will have a look through for you. Cheers !

  5. Also another oldy, that I lost a biscuit base, then pineapple mixed with cornflour then marshmallow on top. Thanks.

    1 REPLY
  6. I remember when you went into a deli in the late 50s you could get ham, Devon and cheddar cheese only. Thank goodness for the Greeks and Italians who changed all that

  7. All true. And we saved the “dripping” from roasts and used it next time. We even spread it on toast. Salt and peppered, it made a great breakfast. We drank tea with our meals. To confess, I still don’t fancy ” pasta”. Suet puddings were standard fare and curries were made from mince, sultanas, golden syrup, apple and curry powder.

    4 REPLY
    • So true, I remember all those things. When I tell people what we did with dripping, especially the younger ones, they turn up their noses. I really enjoyed eating toast with dripping and salt.

    • I have mixed heritage. My dad was Italian and Mum an Australian with English/Irish heritage so we had a mixture of foods. Dad had to teach Mum how to cook Italian foods and I suppose my Aunty showed her as well. I really cherish my mixed background

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