Monday, 27 April 2015

A Simple Snack


One thing that really irritated us both about “Back in time for dinner” was the repeated assertion that ‘nobody ate snacks before the 1970s’. Both of us being advanced in age, we would like to disagree – we remember ‘food in between proper meals’. After all, Leicester’s great “Walkers Crisps” company was started in 1948, when food was still on ration [because Mr W couldn’t get enough meat for his sausages, but potatoes were plentiful, so he diversified]

Biscuit_plateIn the late 50s, I always spent one afternoon a week at the neighbours while my Mum ran the Ladies Meeting at church. I was given a packet of Smiths crisps [with the salt in a twist of blue paper] – meanwhile the good Baptist ladies had their cup of tea and biscuit. Bob started at the Simon Langton Grammar in the 60s, where they had a tuckshop. And for as long as I can remember, fairy cakes and Victoria Sponges have been lovingly baked and served at church events. Surely all these things, eats-between-meals are snacks?

McVities and Huntley&Palmers biscuits were both being manufactured before Victoria came to the throne. Check your history, Mr Coren! The reason they didn’t show up in the National Food Survey was that the NFS asked people to simply note their meals. Biscuits, other snacks, and street food have been around for centuries!

P1010213I made some Anzac Biscuits last Friday, to acknowledge the Gallipoli centenary. I used this lovely book which my blogfriend Carole in NZ sent me some time ago. I decided I wasn’t leaving the entire batch for Bob to eat, so took a plateful round to Jim, my affable OAP neighbour. The biscuits were really simple to make. Next time I may do a double quantity.


I haven’t made them before [though clearly the recipe was popular with the book’s previous owner]. They are very similar to the pseudo-hobnobs here – but Anzacs have coconut in, which adds to texture and flavour. Rather than being sent to the front lines in WW1 for the soldiers to eat, as some people think, Anzac* biscuits were commonly eaten at fetes and other public events, where they were sold to raise money to support the war effort. At the time they were often called "soldier's biscuits", and this fundraising accumulated £6.5M for the to support New Zealand troops in WW1. One in ten NZ adults went to the War [both men as soldiers and women as nurses] and there was a 58% casualty rate. That’s a devastating loss for a fledgling nation. Australian losses were similarly high.


The Gallipoli Campaign was an utterly futile waste of life. Anzac biscuits may have been around a long time – but remembering what they represent, I don’t think I should take them for granted.

[*Anzac = Australia & New Zealand Army Corps]


  1. And don't forget, the humble jam buttie! Fresh fruit. A stick of rhubarb dipped in a twist of sugar. Home bakes. We ate plenty of 'snacks', growing up, they just didn't arrive packaged and full of additives.
    I had to stop watching this series by the time they got to the 70's - it annoyed me too much! :-)

  2. We always had 'elevenses' in the morning, and on coming home from school there was a drink and a biscuit waiting....and that's going back to the fifties!

  3. I have the recipe for those Anzac biscuits - we put chopped cherries in ours too. You just reminded me how scrummy they are!

  4. Thanks for sharing that information, could just eat one!
    Snacks for me and younger brother when we got home from school was a slice of bread and 'Stork' margarine or bread and dripping, sometimes with Bovril in the dripping. We had to wait until Dad came home before we had dinner/evening meal. In the Summer, we raided the pea rows/radishes and rhubarb patch!

  5. Our Australian friends made Anzac cookies for my students when they visited a few years ago.
    I remember snacks of pretzels, graham crackers, and popcorn in the mid-sixties. Our family called it school dessert. We ate the snacks after school. I love the concept of elevenses and 3:00 pm (ish) tea time.

  6. I remember queueing at the Tuck Shop at primary school for Jammie Dodgers and Chocolate Marshmallows. That was definitely in the 60s

  7. These look yummy! I am going to have my kids help me with a batch

  8. Yrs, when I think of all the Enid Blyton books in which the Secret Seven etc had snacks during their meetings, and bags of sweets etc, that is a total mistaken belief!

  9. We got very huffy with this programme and spent lots of time yelling at the tv.There were so many inaccuracies. that being said Giles was working from archives that were by and large literal but not 'accurate'. Makes me wonder how much more given wisdom of the past is inaccurate because the bare bones were written down but the minutia of life was not recorded?


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