Food trends can come and go, but there is one trend that has stuck around for a while now and shows no sign of budging.
Nostalgia. Our fondness for the past continues to hold firm, and nowhere more so than in food and drink. It is deeply logical – in a world that is so fast-paced and at times unsettling, there’s an undeniable charm in using food and flavours to revisit cherished memories as a form of escapism. When it comes to nostalgic foods, it’s not just about the taste; it’s about the emotions, memories, and feelings associated with these culinary delights.
So, it is no surprise to see uproar at Nestle pulling Caramac or Coca-Cola shelving Lilt – conscious moves by these big players to stir up nostalgic fan demand at little risk given the assumed poor performance of the products. Or the retailers and producers tapping into the opportunity – from Asda’s school cake to the iconic Artic Roll, clever NPD and PR angles can drum up interest or sales, or indeed both.
In honour of this hard-working food trend, we asked some of the Pier team to share some of their favourite nostalgic foods and what memories these evoke.
My nostalgic food would be cheese on toast. Whenever I was ill when I was younger my mum would make me it to feel better. Comfort food at its best!
Cigarette sweets. Isn’t it ABSOLUTELY WILD that these were a thing?? I was a child in the 80s and 90s and loved ‘playing smoker’ and eating these! Don’t get me wrong – I’m not calling for their return (although I think they are still made as “Candy Sticks”), they are utterly abhorrent. But I think it’s important to reflect on the madness. Thankfully, I never smoked for real. I do however have a crippling sugar addiction, so take from that what you will.
Nachos with refried beans, salsa and loads of cheese. Reminds me of huge Lord Of The Rings university marathons in my friend’s dorm room.
Metal Martians and the tag line “For Mash get Smash” will forever transport me to a happy place! Our annual caravan holiday to the New Forest has so many happy memories and many of them revolve around food. I remember it rained A LOT, but making dens, getting soaked and then coming back to the caravan for Smash and Heinz Baked Beans always made things better.
Every time I smell roast lamb with mint sauce it transports me back to my Easter Holidays in Wales with my family at my Great Uncles house when I was a child. There were ten of us crammed into his bungalow every year! He had an amazing converted loft with a ping pong and snooker table and an old BBC computer with classic games like pong! I love how the smell of a food can take you back to a specific place and time and evoke a particular memory.
Apple crumble and custard always reminds me of supper at my granny’s cottage in Scotland. Always warm, cosy and filled with love!
A Mr Bubble Lolly! They remind me of summer, especially when I was younger as my sister and I often had them as a treat. We would beg our parents for some money to spend at the ice cream van. I’ll never forget the sheer panic of hearing the ice cream van chimes and thinking you were going to miss it!
First thing I think of when I think of nostalgic food is my packed lunches in primary school. We would always have Pink & Whites Wafers. I’ve definitely not had them since, but now I’ve written this I might have to go and get some for my work lunches soon!
Fish and chips – I was brought up in a Fife fishing village on the east coast of Scotland. Ahh the memories; crispy battered haddock, lashings of salt and vinegar, and eaten straight from the soggy newspaper.
Chicken vol-au-vents. I am a firm believer that Christmas tea absolutely trumps Christmas dinner and chicken vol-au-vents were a staple for tea on the big day in our household. If I ever give up being a veggie these will be the very first thing I consume.
Christmas tea beating Christmas dinner? Cigarette sweets?! Packed mashed potatoes?? Some controversial thoughts from the Pier foodie squad here but each to their own we say. Excuse us, we think we can hear the tinkle of the ice cream van…