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Cooking Through The Decades

It takes something special to stand the test of time and since John Rennie first marketed his tablets in the 1920s, Rennie has been helping people overcome indigestion and heartburn.

Below are some of our favourite recipes and ingredients from each decade of the past 100 years that, like Rennie, remain as popular as ever – although we’ll have to check back in the 2110s to see if quinoa is still being hailed as a wonder food…

Choose your decade

1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s
1920 banner

The roaring 1920s was the time of flappers, parties, new fashions, new cars and of course new foods.

The years in between the wars saw an increase in the quality and quantity of produce available and a few more experimental recipes started making it to the dinner table.

The 1920s Kitchen Cupboard

TINNED FRUIT

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With refrigeration uncommon in many homes, tinning food was a very popular way of keeping it fresh. Meat, vegetables and, of course, fruit were all tinned and were a store cupboard staple.

MILK, FLOUR AND SUGAR

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Following the end of the First World War, cakes and pastries became increasingly popular during the 1920s. Things such as butter and sugar became more readily available and were readily incorporated into people’s diets.

MEAT – AND PLENTY OF IT

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There was plenty of meat available between the wars and many people had no qualms about guzzling all sorts of cuts as often as possible.

The 1920s Classic

BAKED HAM

Cooking Through The Decades

INGREDIENTS

Ingredients:

  • 1 ham joint (around 5lbs)
  • 5 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons of English mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of allspice

INSTRUCTIONS

Simple to prepare, this baked ham also makes a great sandwich filler or cold snack. Soak the gammon joint overnight in fresh water. Preheat the oven to 170c and dry the ham with a kitchen towel. Score the fat and mix together the sugar, mustard and allspice. Coat the joint completely and roast for around two hours, basting regularly with the juices that form in the bottom of the pan. Serve warm with poached eggs and chips for a warming winter dish or cold with a salad for a summer treat.

1930 banner

The 1930s is infamous for The Great Depression, the global economic disaster that had a devastating effect around the world. In the UK, unemployment reached up to 70% in some areas this resulted in people having to budget, especially with food.

The 1930s Kitchen Cupboard

ONIONS, CARROTS AND OTHER ROOT VEGETABLES

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With money being incredibly tight for millions of Britons, simple, versatile ingredients were the order of the day. Root vegetables could be used in casseroles and a whole host of dishes that were tasty and filling.

CHOCOLATE

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As well as being a golden age for cinema it was also a golden age for chocolate bars. Milky Way, Snickers, and Smarties were all introduced to the UK in the 1930s and were eaten as an infrequent treat.

BREAKFAST CEREALS

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These were still a relatively new novelty in the 1930s but they rapidly gained popularity. However, for many, you still couldn’t beat a hearty bowl of porridge.

The 1930s Classic

BEEF CASSEROLE

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INGREDIENTS

Ingredients:

  • 750g stewing beef
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 500ml beef stock, warmed
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • Bay leafs and thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Another classic that can easily be scaled up to serve as many people as you like. Preheat oven to 170c. Cut the beef into bite-sized chunks and brown with vegetable oil in a casserole. Remove the meat and stir the flour into fat and cook until browned. Add the beef stock, stirring until smoothly blended. Place the vegetables and herbs in the casserole and put the meat on top. Cover and simmer in the oven for around two hours or until everything is tender.

1940 banner

The devastating effects of the Second World War meant food was rationed and people had to be inventive. Previously common food and drink such as butter, various meats, tea, sugar, cheese, milk and eggs were in short supply. Dishes that involved using a combination of leftover rations were very popular for obvious reasons.

The 1940s Kitchen Cupboard

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Rationing meant that things changed drastically in 1940s. Below is what a British household was allowed to have in their store cupboard:

  • Milk, 3 pints, plus 1 packet dried milk per month
  • Sugar, 8 oz.
  • Tea, 2 oz.
  • Egg (shell egg) plus 1 packet dried egg per month
  • Sweets, 12 oz.
  • Bacon and ham (3-4 slices/rashers) 4 oz.
  • Other meats – 2 small chops
  • Butter, 2 oz.
  • Cheese, 2 oz.
  • Margarine, 4 oz.
  • Cooking fat, 4 oz.

The 1940s Classic

STEAMED SPONGE PUDDING

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INGREDIENTS

Ingredients:

  • 6oz self-raising flour
  • 1 Teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons milk

INSTRUCTIONS

This classic is a great treat that makes use of the most basic store cupboard ingredients. Preheat oven to 170c. Simply mix the flour, baking powder, eggs and add the sugar. Mix in the flavouring and milk and turn into a greased pudding basin and cover tightly with tin foil and baking parchment (tin foil on first). Stand the pudding in a large saucepan and pour enough hot water into the saucepan to come half way up the side of the pudding basin. Leave to steam for around two and a half hours, topping up the water if it gets too low. Insert a skewer into the pudding and, if it still has some wet mixture, then place it back to steam for a further 15 minutes. Serve straight away with custard and your choice of jam.

1950 banner

It took the best part of 10 years following the end of the Second World War for rationing to come to an end. However, by 1954 sugar, eggs, cheese and meat finally came off rationing, meaning the pre-war taste for invention could re-start once again.

The 1950s Kitchen Cupboard

BEANS AND LENTILS

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With rationing still in operation during the first half of the decade, relatively cheap food was still the order of the day. Three bean salads were often put together as a starter, while lentils also gained popularity.

CHEESE

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Along with other items that were rationed, cheese made a huge comeback in the 1950s. A versatile ingredient, cheese could be used in a variety of classic and innovative dishes.

SUET

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Although it was readily available before, suet was regularly used throughout the 1950s. Things such as suet pudding (both sweet and savoury), along with dumplings ensured its enduring popularity.

The 1950s Classic

CORONATION CHICKEN

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INGREDIENTS

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4oz mayonnaise
  • 18oz diced and cooked chicken
  • 2oz flaked almonds

INSTRUCTIONS

First prepared for the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, this is simple to prepare and makes a great main meal or sandwich filling. Finely chop and cook the onion in oil until soft. Add the curry powder and mix well. Add the lime juice and mayonnaise and mix well. Cut the cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces and put in a bowl. Pour mayonnaise sauce over, and mix together. Toast the flaked almonds and sprinkle over. Coronation chicken is an incredibly versatile dish so ingredients like sliced grapes, crème fraiche or mango chutney can also be added. Serve with salad, rice or cold.

1960 banner

By the time the sixties came along, the younger generation were ready to start enjoying themselves again. Music, miniskirts and swinging London encouraged people to spend more money, while cheaper flights meant more exposure to foreign influences – especially in the kitchen...

The 1960s Kitchen Cupboard

BEEF, CHICKEN AND LAMB

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The end of rationing in the middle of the 50s led to meat being more readily available but it was in the 1960s that quality cuts started finding their way onto the dinner table thanks to an increase in living standards.

INDIAN SPICES

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The sixties saw a huge increase in the number of Indian restaurants around the UK, meaning more adventurous cooks were able to get their hands on spices such as cumin, cinnamon and cloves.

LAGER

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It wasn’t just food that changed – what people were drinking also evolved. Lager became big news in the 60s and the light, refreshing drink started to rival the traditional bitters and stouts in the pub and the home.

The 1960s Classic

DUCK A L’ORANGE

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INGREDIENTS

Ingredients:

  • 4 duck breasts
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, 2 oranges
  • 4 shallots
  • 4 tablespoons marmalade
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 400ml duck or chicken stock

INSTRUCTIONS

As British people started to embrace foreign cultures, dishes like this French influenced Duck a L’Orange started to become popular. Preheat the oven to 200c. Score the skin of the duck and season to taste. Place on a baking tray for around 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside. Peel the zest from the oranges and cut into fine matchstick shapes, before blanching until soft. Heat the honey in a frying pan and add the orange juice, marmalade, shallots and stock. Allow to simmer for around seven minutes. Place the duck breasts into the pan and heat through, adding arrange pieces to the sauce. Serve with a green salad or vegetables of your choice.

1970 banner

The 1970s was a time of radical fashion, music and of course food. Foreign foods were introduced, with Italian, French, Chinese and more all gaining rapid popularity. While some of the things people got excited about then may seem quaint, the decade still produced recipes that are weekly staples in the British dining room today.

The 1970s Kitchen Cupboard

PASTA

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This was amongst the first foreign food to become a staple of the British cupboard. Unendingly versatile, pasta goes well with a variety of dishes, including Spaghetti Bolognese of course, which gained massive popularity in the 1970s.

PEPPERS

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Red, green, orange – it didn’t matter. The 1970s trend for stuffing food suited the versatile pepper that was often filled with things like bolognese sauce or other exotic ingredients.

POWDERED DESSERTS

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Although these were originally produced in the late sixties, these achieved popularity in the 1970s as they were able to be made in an instant and had a variety of flavours – just add milk and whip it up!

The 1970s Classic

BANOFFEE PIE

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INGREDIENTS

Ingredients:

  • 9oz digestive biscuits
  • 4oz butter
  • 14oz caramel
  • 2 bananas
  • 300ml whipping cream
  • Dark chocolate

INSTRUCTIONS

For a quick and easy dessert, this banoffee pie is perfect. Place the biscuits into a food processor and pulse until they become fine breadcrumbs. Put into a bowl and mix in the melted butter to combine. Place the mixture into a greased 8in loose-bottomed cake tin and press into the base and along the sides, before putting in the fridge to cool for 30 mins. Spoon the caramel over the biscuit base, and then cover with a layer of sliced banana. Whip the cream and distribute evenly over the top of the pie and grate the dark chocolate to decorate.

1980 banner

The 1980s was a time of contrasting fortunes. Strikes and the crisis in coal meant for many it was a time of hardship, while the boom in financial services and yuppie culture meant that, for the lucky few, it was a time to eat out and discover the new food fads which flooded the UK market. One of the most popular being French Nouvelle cuisine.

The 1980s Kitchen Cupboard

PRAWNS

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Dinner parties became commonplace for certain sections of society in the 1980s and no self-respecting host would begin their feast with anything other than a prawn cocktail, served in a large wine glass.

TAKEAWAY PIZZA

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The 1980s saw an explosion in convenience food with the microwave becoming a fixture in many kitchens. The decade also saw the first takeaway pizza places open in the UK, meaning anyone could enjoy a Hawaiian in front of the TV.

BLACK FOREST GATEAU

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Although you could make your own, the convenience of frozen desserts meant that the likes of black forest gateau and arctic roll were incredibly popular choices for many families looking for a sweet treat.

The 1980s Classic

PRAWN COCKTAIL

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INGREDIENTS

Ingredients:

  • 150g of uncooked fresh prawns
  • 3 gem lettuces
  • Juice of ¼ lemon
  • 8 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco sauce (optional)
  • Smoked paprika

INSTRUCTIONS

Although popular in previous decades, the 1980s was when the prawn cocktail became a dinner party fixture – and it couldn’t be simpler. Heat a large frying pan and dry fry the prawns until they turn pink. Then, take a sharp knife and cut down the back of the prawns and remove the black thread (to make it even easier you can buy pre-cooked prawns). Then place in the fridge until needed. For the sauce, simply mix the mayonnaise, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice in a bowl and season to taste (you can add a few drops of Tabasco sauce if you want to spice things up). To serve, simply dice the lettuce and avocado then mix the prawns into your sauce and place the mixture on top of your salad. Add a dash of smoked paprika to taste.

1990 banner

The 1990s saw the flourish of many new supermarket chains – but one of the most recognised food trends was Chinese cuisine. ‘Chinatown’ areas began to emerge in popular cities like London and Manchester. In the 1980s Chinese food was mainly limited to sweet and sour pork dishes, but in the 1990s this cuisine expanded rapidly. Pub grub also went gastro, with British classics like fish and chips and sticky toffee pudding being given a 90s makeover.

The 1990s Kitchen Cupboard

BALSAMIC VINEGAR

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A favourite ingredient of television chefs, this became popular to drizzle over dishes – especially as different varieties of healthy salads stared to emerge towards the end of the decade.

PESTO

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The basil infused sauce for pasta originated in Italy in the 1940s and became a kitchen staple in the 1990s and was a quick and simple way of adding flavour to an otherwise unappetising bowl of pasta.

ORGANIC VEGETABLES

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The huge interest in healthy eating and several food scares (including BSE outbreaks), meant people were more concerned about the origins of their food. Organic food was one way of making sure food was responsibly sourced.

The 1990s Classic

ORGANIC POT ROAST CHICKEN

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INGREDIENTS

Ingredients:

  • 1 organic chicken
  • 4 rashers bacon
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch young carrots
  • 4 small parsnips
  • 2 leeks
  • 10 new potatoes
  • 20 shallots
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Coarsely ground black pepper and sea salt
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 1 glass of white wine

INSTRUCTIONS

This dish is based on one of the 90s’ biggest trends – wholesome organic food. Heat the oven to 180C. Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a large casserole and heat gently. Add the bacon, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, garlic, rosemary thyme and shallot. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, place the chicken on top of the vegetables, cover with the lid and place in the oven for an hour. Remove the lid, return to the oven and cook for another half-hour, so the chicken skin browns and becomes crisp. Lift the chicken from the pot and transfer to a warm plate, arrange the vegetables on large serving platter, top with the chicken and keep warm. Use the left over juices to create a gravy and serve.

2000 banner

The noughties were when the internet changed everything. It was also when food such as sushi, cupcakes, Artisan foods (breads, cheeses and dark chocolates) came into the spotlight. However, this decade also saw a rise in the trend for street food and gourmet junk food.

The 2000s Kitchen Cupboard

PROTEIN

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Fad diets such as the Atkins meant that carbohydrates were to be treated with extreme caution. However, there was no need to scrimp on the meat – you could eat as much as you wanted.

SUPERFOODS

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With people becoming increasingly aware of the nutritional value of food, the time-poor were looking for ways to pack as much nutritional punch as they could as easily as they could. Superfoods such as blueberries and kale were blended and drunk in smoothies.

TAKEAWAY COFFEE

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Thanks to programmes like Friends, the coffee shop began to replace the pub as the meeting place of choice for many in the late 1990s. However, the 2000s saw the UK’s obsession with coffee really take off with no office worker even able to get through their morning without a takeaway latte.

The 2000s Classic

MACARONI CHEESE

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INGREDIENTS

Ingredients:

  • 250g dried macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 450ml milk
  • 200g Cheddar cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

This classic comfort food saw a rebirth in the 2000s, with even the flashiest of restaurants putting this dish on their menus. Firstly, boil a pan of water and cook your macaroni according to the instructions. Meanwhile, on a low heat, warm the butter in a pan and mix in the plain flour. Add the mustard powder and stir. Pour the milk in a little at a time, mixing all the while. Add 150g cheese to thicken the sauce and stir until smooth and creamy. Pour the drained pasta to the mix and transfer to an oven proof dish. Grate the remaining cheese over the top and bake at 180c for 10 minutes. Serve warm from the oven with a side salad.

2010 banner

Our current decade saw ‘gourmet junk food’ become one of the most popular food trends, with anything from greasy burgers to fried chicken being given an up-market makeover. At the other end of the scale, diet plans like Paleo meant additives and refined sugar are off the menu for many while for others, unless your food looked good on an Instagram post, there really was no point in eating at all!

The 2010s Kitchen Cupboard

COURGETTES

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Rather than having starchy, carbohydrate-filled pasta with your Bolognese sauce, many people are now spiralizing their courgettes to create a nutrient-rich courgetti.

QUINOA

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Used to add bulk to salads or other dishes, the quinoa grain is rich in nutrients including protein and fibre, as well as vitamins B1 and B2.

AVOCADOS

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The increasing popularity of brunch in the UK has meant that avocado has become incredibly popular – anyone who has ever checked their social media feeds on a Saturday morning can attest to that fact.

The 2010s Classic

AVOCADO AND POACHED EGG ON TOAST

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INGREDIENTS

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ lemon
  • Wholegrain bread
  • Chilli flakes
  • Balsamic vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS

It’s now almost impossible to look at Instagram or go out for brunch without catching sight of this dish. Cut the avocado in half, scoop out the flesh and place into a bowl. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the flesh and season to taste. Roughly mash the mixture with a fork and set aside. Half-fill a pan with water and bring to a gentle simmer. Crack one of your eggs into a cup and pour into the water. Repeat with the second egg. Simmer the eggs for around two to four minutes (depending on how you like them) and gently remove with a slotted spoon. Toast and butter your bread, spoon over the avocado mixture and add the eggs on top. Sprinkle over the chili flakes and balsamic vinegar before serving.