Shopping in the 1920’s was quite different to today, no nipping down to your favourite supermarket to stock up the freezer, as most houses did not have refrigerators and fresh food had to be bought every day. There also wasn’t the wide variety of foods and flavours available that we have today.
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Few women worked and many independent grocers continued to thrive. Women of the day preferred to have a more personal service and in outlying areas traveling shops were popular as it saved the often long walk to the shops and back again carrying fresh vegetables. Imagine having to go shopping on Christmas eve and carry home all the fresh produce needed for the big day – there would certainly have been a lot less on my Christmas shopping list if I’d to carry it all home!
Specialist shops were the norm and grocer’s shops happily sat side by side with the butcher, baker and confectioners, imagine Tesco’s next door to Asda and Sainsbury’s – I doubt that would have been such a happy co-existence.
For those who were considered to be of the middle and upper classes, eating meat on a daily basis was a regular occurrence, however, to the working classes it was considered a luxury and only eaten on a Sunday.
Think you could just nip to the shops and get our fresh vegetables for the dinner? Not in the 1920’s as there were no refrigerators to store them and veg had to be bought daily. This meant a lengthy walk to the shops and back again. Fortunately, grocers soon began driving around a small cart around the villages and hamlets with their produce, saving many housewifes a very long walk!
Today we give little thought to sticking on a load of washing, dropping a tablet into the dishwasher and running round with the vaccum – before we head out to meet friends. However, it wasn’t until later in the twenties that most homes had electricity and with it came a boom in electrical appliances. Many homes would now have the convenience of a toaster (which would cost around £3) and refrigerators and stoves became popular as did electric clothes washers which did away with the traditional Monday wash day, and soon almost every home had an electric iron.
Although most electrical appliances were aimed at women in the home, men were not forgotten either with the increase of power drills, saws and lathes helping them with the household repairs, shopping for these items soon became akin to a day out – nothing much changed there then!
The way food was purchased has also changed. In 1922 Walls ice cream production commenced at a factory in Acton, London. If you wanted to buy an ice-cream then you would have to go and stop one of the bicycles with the sign “Stop Me And Buy One ” and was not available to buy in shops. There were not as many flavours to choose from as there are today, you could choose from vanilla and chocolate – so no mint choc chip! Today we can walk into any supermarket or newsagents and get our favourite ice creams with lots of different flavours to choose from.
Want to get a Fry’s Cream Chocolate bar back in the 20’s? You could, a whole bar of it, as Frys was one of the first to produce a chocolate bar and was available to buy in shops and there was only peppermint flavour – we hear your shock, there was no orange cream available!
Coca Cola had advertised its Christmas advert in magazines and newspapers such as The Saturday Evening Post. They also advertised on radio as this was one of the most important methods of advertisement for Coca Cola. The soft drink did not go on sale frequently in the UK until the 1920s and there was only the one flavour original coke flavour available – that’s right there was no cherry, vanilla or even diet coke!
Which items would you miss the most if you lived in the 1920s? Comment below and let us know.