TV Cream

Bric-a-Brac: I is for...

Ideal Milk

The finishing touch to a million Sunday afternoon desserts, Ideal evaporated milk from Nestlé’s (pronounced ‘Nessles’, never ‘Ness-lay’) brought a dash of creamy richness to any bowl of jelly, fruit cocktail or peach segments. Evaporated milk etiquette demanded that one made a hole in the top of the blue can with a tin opener, before decanting it into a jug. Rivalry came in the shape of Ideal’s nemesis Carnation, prompting a Coke vs Pepsi-style battle of red and blue tins. In the 1980s, evap, as the connoisseurs called it, faced new challenges, not least from Nestlé’s own Tip Top, a Bernard Cribbins-impersonating concoction (‘Whoops-ooh, aren’t you looking slim, mum?’) and, fatally, from Anchor Cream in a can (‘You just go squirt! Squirt! Squirt!’). Sunday teatimes with Jim Bowen and the Man from Del Monte were never the same after that.



  1. Moby The Villan

    September 18, 2012 at 12:37 am

    I remember some arty-type ads for Ideal Evap from the ’60s. Slo-mo waves of milk crashing through walls of pineapple chunks etc., with a really memorable score.

    Anyone else remember them?


  2. Joanne Gray

    May 7, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    We were a Carnation family – nothing else would do.

    • Ralph Jackson

      August 15, 2022 at 10:54 pm

      BTW Baren-Marke was German,as that tool came from Germany as some of my family are from there. Baren,which should have an umlaut above the a,means “bears” and Marke means “brand”. We used to get bags of sweets called GummiBaren,which were lots of little chewy sweet gums in the shape of bears and in a variety of different colours.

  3. Ralph Jackson

    August 15, 2022 at 10:45 pm

    Carnation is the one which survived,though I think we may have used Ideal as well when I was a child in the 70s. We used it in cocoa/hot chocolate: 3 or 4 spoons of cocoa,a spoon of sugar if preferred,then added the evap milk until the cup was about a third full and stirred until blended in. Used to take a couple of spoonfuls before the final stage of adding boiling water from the kettle and stirring. Our evap milk can etiquette,instigated by my Mum,was to punch one hole near the outer rim of the top of the can,then punch two holes next to each other exactly opposite to it in the same end of the can; this helped with flow and speed of dispensation as it was poured through the double pair of holes. Instead of a tin opener she kept a rectangular wooden implement about four inches long with a squat,very strong metal spike protruding out of one end,and the legend “Baren Marke” on it,for the purpose.

  4. Richardpd

    May 28, 2024 at 10:39 pm

    I remember my Mum buying Tip Top, usually when it was a birthday party, I can’t remember her using any other tinned milk products like this.

    Evaporated & if we were very lucky condensed milk were strictly for baking by her.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top