Friday, 27 February 2015

"Ready, aye Ready". Coffee in post WWII Britain.

If the tales my parents, aunts, and uncles told were true, one of the greatest hardships of war time life in the United Kingdom was the shortage of tea.  Clearly the importation of tea-leaves from India, Ceylon  (and maybe Kenya) was low on the list of priorities for a war time Government.
 
Very little at that time could cheer the embattled spirits of U.K. folks other than a good "cuppa char".
 
By the time I was old enough to drink a cup of weak tea  (probably in about 1948 when I was four years old -  we Brits start the tea habit at a young age), the tea shortage was over.
 
But then there was coffee.  It may be that the wealthier middle and upper classes had coffee beans to grind, but for we working class plebs coffee came in a liquid essence, bottled under the name "Camp Coffee".  It was concocted by the Patterson Co of Paisley, Scotland.
 
There was a rival brand known as "Bev", but my family was loyal to "Camp".
 
 
 
 
It turns out that  "Camp Coffee"  was made chiefly of sugar and chicory, with a wee bit of coffee essence.
 
Of course we knew no better, so if coffee was our beverage of choice we used "Camp Coffee".  We would make it with half boiling water and half hot milk - not knowing that we were drinking "CafĂ© au Lait"! 
 
When the first instant coffee powder  (Nescafe - made by Nestles)  hit the market we thought it to be a very inferior product.
 
It is probable that Camp Coffee was first invented for the convenience of Scottish troops in the (colonial) Indian Army, where it was almost impossible to find coffee beans, and then roast and grind them.
 
"Camp Coffee" was indeed "Ready, aye ready" -  the advertising motif.
 
It was only recently that I discovered that the distinctive label (which featured a Gordon Highlander and a Sikh)  on bottles of "Camp Coffee and Chicory Essence"  underwent a huge change.
 
Let me know if you notice the change.
Camp 2 (a later label)
 
Camp 1 (the label I remember)
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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