Anecdote Index






(9) by Jean Metcalf

Few caterers and food manufacturers used 'sell by' dates in the 1930s. However, J. Lyons did and strictly observed them. Granted the dates were in code, but the management had to learn the codes and woe betide any member of management who had overlooked any date.

Each teashop prewar had three van deliveries every day (four deliveries if the shop remained open late). The sandwiches delivered on any of the deliveries were wrapped in wrappers with lettering in different colours indicating which delivery that sandwich arrived in..

Sometimes the date was incorporated in the food product itself. The fresh cream buns had a different colour butter cream blob on top, again indicating the delivery - chocolate for the first, pink for the midday, and white for the 3 p.m.. delivery. The checking of daily dates were religiously checked by the management. The daily supervisor would also check.

Fresh food served in the teashops also had a 'life'. I well remember that portions of fish that had not been sold by 4 p.m.. on the day it was delivered was destroyed. All fresh food ordered was recorded in what was called a Summary. All such food left unsold was counted between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. and those items that had reached their 'sell by' date were destroyed, having previously been entered in the summary.

We alsso had Laboratory inspectors who visited the teashops to check on the cleanliness of equipment - the tea openers were the menace.

The quality and condition of the food - bearing in mind the prices charged - was absolutely first class. Any member of management found cheating or selling food which was over dated could be demoted.

© Jean Metcalf 2002