It’s 1991, midnight, and you’re scrambling around in a half-lit kitchen, trying to pad quietly around as not to wake your half-listening parents, tripping over the cat as you go and you’re raiding your Mum’s cupboards for food she won’t notice missing from the cupboard and subsequently won’t tut loudly over the omission over the next day (like one half of a loaf of bread and cheese).
As you go, you’re only slightly drunkenly pondering why there are glacé cherries in the cupboard. Have they been there since 1980? (Surely that’s the last time your Mum seriously considered making a conceptual cocktail avec sugar-coated cherry garnish? You certainly haven’t noticed her baking Bakewell tarts anytime ever…) And you certainly haven’t seen them being slipped into the Kwik Save trolley lately. Come to think of it, as you accidentally tip over the tooth pics and cocktail umbrellas to grab one en route to your mouth, you realise your parents have never sipped a cocktail in their lives.
TV CREAM SAYS: COME TO THINK OF IT, HOW LONG HAVE THOSE PINK FLAMINGO STIRRERS AND CERISE COCKTAIL UMBRELLAS BEEN THERE?
There are few things in life more satisfying that painstakingly peeling a dried bit of glue off the side of the bottle and rolling it between your fingers. Such was the excitement of using Gloy, the clear glue that managed to enjoy 99.9 percent penetration of Britain’s classrooms. With memorable lower case ‘gloy gum’ logo, the product came in plastic squeezy bottles with a nubbly dispenser on the top which, inevitably, would get good and gummed up after a few squeezes onto crêpe paper and therefore require stabbing with a pair of scissors before you continued. Eventually the rise and rise of Pritt Stick saw Gloy fall out of favour, not helped by the fact that some kid would always make a right mess with it and stick everything to the table. The same was true of its less transparent ‘rival’, Marvin, meaning those essential little green spatulas soon fell into disuse.
TV CREAM SAYS: THE DREADED POST-LESSON WASHING UP RITUAL AFTERWARDS MERELY SPREAD THE GLOOP FURTHER AFIELD
Not so much a cheese spread, more a way of life. Well, that was the marketing plan, at least. In the admittedly small world of foil-wrapped triangular processed cheesy spreads, Dairylea reigns supreme. It was not ever thus: the 1970s played host to St Ivel’s Gold Spinner, a tenacious paste of solid milk which sought to steal a march on Kraft’s creation. Firstly, it upped the zany flavours ante with a multifarious assortment of tomato, pickle and onion-augmented wedges. Secondly, a cartoon ad campaign was cooked up, featuring Roderick, a gawky, accident-prone pre-teen in outsize baseball cap, who got into amusing scrapes as his frizzy-haired lisping sister and pet dog looked wryly on. This seemingly watertight approach was no match for Dairylea’s stage school showcase campaign, and the brand didn’t make it far into the 1980s.
TV CREAM SAYS: CAN I HAVE ONE WITHOUT BITS IN, PLEASE?
It was one of those record-breaking events, like domino toppling and giant houses of cards, that children’s TV lived for. Blue Peter, John Craven’s Newsround and Record Breakers got plenty of mileage out of NASA scientist Dr Paul MacCready’s attempt to fly across the English Channel in a man-powered aircraft. Luckily for pilot Bryan Allen, after all the media build-up, the backward-facing, all-plastic contraption with bicycle-powered propeller didn’t fare as ridiculously as it looked – the crossing was made in a shade under three hours, and children briefly forgave NASA for their unconscionable dallying over the space shuttle.
TV CREAM SAYS: THE POOR MAN'S THRUST II
So many artifacts evocative of the 1960s and 70s turn out to hail from antiquity, but the corner-shop-and-petrol-station-oriented phenomenon of Green Shield stamps only started up in 1958, despite the venerable glue-backed perforated dividend tokens looking like they hailed from some Edwardian printing press. This was, of course, partly the point. The resolutely old-fashioned ethos of saving up ‘points’, symbolised by each small stamp spewed out by a little metal machine by the side of the till and diligently stuck into a special booklet (there were bigger ones that counted for ten points or more, to save on your saliva) preached hard graft and patience. But then, when enough had been accumulated, it was off to the catalogue for – yippee! – toasters, glassware, Kenwood Chefettes and even, should you fill a comically enormous stack of booklets, a colour telly! Its was consumerism gone mad, though it worked, its only serious rival being the pale blue Co-op Dividend stamps scheme. Whatever the colour, mile-long reams of perforated paper being awkwardly stuffed into bulging purses were one of the all-time most evocative signifiers of grocery shopping.
TV CREAM SAYS: FINALLY CAME UNSTUCK IN 1992