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Processed food is delicious

Simon Binns relives his crispy pancake and Pop Tart youth. Tell us about the muck you ate as a young’un.

Written by . Published on October 4th 2010.

Processed food is delicious

Someone mentioned pop tarts in the office the other day. I can’t remember who.

But it opened the floodgates to a retro food-fest. It also made me remember that I probably didn’t eat a vegetable until I left home at 18 and managed to survive on a diet that almost entirely consisted of Findus Crispy Pancakes and Sunny Delight. Until that story about the girl who drank too much of it and turned orange.

I once made the mistake of telling my Dad I liked crispy pancakes and came back to find 14 boxes in the freezer. “They were on two for one son.”

Moyo has Bernard Matthews turkey drummers for tea (“I thought they were actual turkey legs”) and Sarah Tierney still eats Micro Chips.

Fray Bentos pies, tinned spam and corned beef, Ross Fun Fish. Fish fingers shaped like fish. Real fun. Angel delight for pudding washed down with Tizer-flavoured Soda Stream.

Organic free-range? Not likely.

I knew I had a problem when I started eating Pop Tarts cold. I couldn’t even be bothered to put them in the toaster.

Microwaveable roast dinner in a box? No problem. And let’s raise a glass to Kellog’s Rise and Shine - 'fresh' orange juice in powdered form. Just add water. Mmm.

Our attitudes to food change as we get older, of course. But those of us who sit tutting as Jamie chides another parent for passing crisps through the school fence, or bemoan the Turkey Twizzler, have probably eaten more processed muck than most.

The arrival of the golden arches in Redcar when I was a kid was the most exciting thing to happen in the town since a whale washed up on the beach and slowly decomposed, and a thirty-something friend of mine from Preston still proudly refers to the fact that KFC chose the town for its first UK restaurant.

And it was luxury to some of the chopped, shaped and reformed treasure hiding in my Mam’s fridge.

Then, as it is now, convenience was king. I think we did our entire family shop out of the Safeway freezer aisles and BOGOF was the mantra.

I once made the mistake of telling my Dad I liked crispy pancakes and came back to find 14 boxes in the freezer. “They were on two for one son.” They were all cheese flavour and I ate every last one.

And we’re all still here. Just about. So when the next time you trundle your trolley full of gluten-free organic this and that around the supermarket, perhaps you’ll make room for a bottle of strawberry Nesquik too. Chin chin.

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13 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

ellpollolocoOctober 1st 2010.

Vesta curries and corona cherryade or cream soda,then maybe a screwball or a cider barrel from the mr wippy's van!!

NortherngeezerOctober 1st 2010.

I'm a child of the 60s so shyte pre-packed food was in its infancy then.
Mum had 9 to feed so went for somthing that was filling more than nutricious.
Everything was fried, even a cheese butty dressed up with the name 'cheese dreams', i can still remember the congealing lard dripping down me chin.
I distinctly remember eating something called 'Prem', looked like a role of industrial slurry, and didnt taste much better!.

Simon Binns - News EditorOctober 1st 2010.

I ate a Wham bar a day as a child and had perfect teeth. I now have a healthy(ish) balanced diet and had to have a molar removed last week.

Figure that one out.

Didsbury GirlOctober 1st 2010.

Potato Waffles, Potato smiley faces, Fish Fingers and Turkey Drummers. If they came frozen and took less than 20 mins under a grill I would eat them. Waffles are still in my freezer for all my shame. Nothing better than a waffle butty when hungover

Leigh ScottOctober 1st 2010.

Breakfast: 4 Custard creams with full fat milk,

on the way to school a Starbar and a curly whirly.

Lunch time:
School sausage chips and beans followed by jam and cornflake tart with pink custard.

Break time: milk chocolate waifa from the tuck shop with a bag of space invaders.

Tea time: fish finger sandwiches followed by tinned peaches and cream.

I now eat lettuce and tinned fish :@(

NortherngeezerOctober 1st 2010.

Theres no f**king way ANYONE in Didsbury even knows wot a 'butty' of ANY kind is..............sandwich my dear, sandwich!!!!
PS - I had fish finger buttys with tomato sauce for ones evening meal on Wednesday night whilst the other filly steins i live with made do with grilled salmon fillet, marinated in a lime and lemon grass dressing, served with stir fry.
Lemon grass......me dear old gran would turn in her grave FFS!!!!.

Christopher BryanOctober 1st 2010.

Potato Balls, Alphabites and some sort of cheap Spam product. It was called Bacon Fry or something and was basically processed, reformed pork that you sliced and shallow fried.

MaggsOctober 1st 2010.

As a child of the fifties I can remember the excitement when the corner shop got a small freezer and began to stock fish fingers (which only came in packs of 6), frozen peas and those very small 'original' beefburgers. A bit later came Birds Eye Chicken pies and I still enjoy them occasionally!! Before that anything 'convenience' was tinned and considered a great treat - my Mum paid weekly for a Christmas Hamper full of things like whole chickens and ham crammed into tins - yuck!!

Anon tooOctober 1st 2010.

When I was at uni in the early 90s, my dad used to send me the stuff they didn't eat out of their decidedly patchy Xmas hamper.

Tinned chicken burgers in jelly is something I never want to experience again, but tinned mince beef on toast was the best post-pub meal I'd ever had.

Elizabeth FitzgeraldOctober 1st 2010.

I was jealous of those who had crispy pancakes! However, I am concerned about the latent BSE I probably have from goblin canned burgers!

Arran SummerhillOctober 1st 2010.

Microwavable donner kebabs. With the "k"abbage picked off of course.

Really nice sachet of chilli sauce with them.

Tasty fun, highly recommended.

Michele HartOctober 3rd 2010.

Things started to go wrong in our house when mum discovered something called bouquet garni - dodgy teabag type thing full of herbs she shoved in our stew thinking she'd gone all continental! About the same time she also discovered the continental quilt!
Brown Derbys at the Wimpy with my nan were a true 70s gourmet treat.

Didsbury GirlOctober 4th 2010.

@Northergeezer - Didsbury I may be now, but I grew up in the wilds of Rossendale and Burnley. Save the potty mouth.

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