I MUST admit to coming over all misty-eyed this week with the announcement of the end of the Findus frozen food brand. For lads like me growing up in the Seventies, coming home to my mother’s staple fayre of Findus crispy pancakes was a regular occurrence.
Two hungry boys returning from school were greeted with the pancakes’ crispy breadcrumb crust, followed by the scorchingly red hot sauce within the tightly-sealed sealed parcel. It is true that the Findus brand has never quite recovered from the horsemeat scandal and the fact that a great many of their beef lasagnes were, in fact, 100 per cent cheval, but it still leaves me feeling very nostalgic for Crispy Pancakes, Arctic Roll, frozen pizzas and Angel Delight.
Does anyone remember the advertising slogan for Findus Crispy Pancakes? ‘Success on a Plate for You’. Quite what was so difficult about putting a few frozen solid pancakes into an oven for 20 minutes is beyond me – but we are talking freezer revolution time here. Astonishingly only three per cent of the population had a freezer in 1969 but this had risen to 50 per cent by 1979.
Freezer mania obviously took off because shops kept much shorter hours than they do today and the thought of anywhere being open on a Sunday was unthinkable. Mums up and down the country could see the boon of having food readily available at all times.
By the end of the 1970s even small corner shops had chest freezers full of Bird’s Eye fish fingers and Vesta curries. Remember them? They were exotic fayre in my youth, before you could eat food from all over the world from a take-away on the High Street.
Now, I’m as fond of a fish finger as the next man, but I will miss my Findus Crispy Pancakes. They will still be manufactured under the Chef’s Classics brand but I’m sure they won’t taste the same and they’ll probably have to carry an ‘elf and safety’ warning on account of the red hot gloop inside.
STAYING with food, easyJet founder Stelious Haji-Ioaaou has taken on Aldi and Lidl by launching his own easyFood brand selling items for just 25p each.
A mega discount shop in Park Royal West, a down-at-heel part of north London, has opened selling a limited range of foods at rock-bottom prices. There is an introductory promotion on this week with just 25p for everything including sugar, tea, sardines, tomato ketchup, peach slices and Jaffa cakes. The goods are unbranded and the sales pitch is ‘No expensive brands, just food honestly priced’. The 25p shop is part of a promotional month to get the punters through the door, but after that bosses say prices could rise to 50p.
That bloke certainly has the Midas touch, and judging by comments from shoppers in the London store this week, Stelious looks like he has struck gold again. If he is making a profit – even selling goods at 50p – it begs the question how much Aldi and Lidl are making, not to mention the big four!
SPARE a thought for a load of disgruntled snappers who have taken to Twitter this week to have a go at Brooklyn Beckham. The 16-year-old has only been hired to shoot Burberry’s latest social media campaign.
Work is hard to come by for jobbing photographers these days and the fact that such a lucrative and prestigious contract has been awarded to a kid with famous parents has not gone down well. Comments include things like “It’s sheer nepotism’ and ‘It’s not what you know but who you know and it’s totally unacceptable”. They’re probably absolutely right – but the world has never been fair. I’m off to the Co-op to snap up all the Findus Crispy Pancakes before they run out.
Kevan Blackadder is a media consultant who runs Blackadder Media Limited. Kevan was previously editor of the Gloucestershire Echo and assistant editor of the Bristol Post. A Cumbrian who moved to the South West “for a couple of years” in the 1980s, he can’t quite believe he’s been there ever since.