31 British foods everyone LOVED in the 1970s

The heavenly Seventies



The 1970s was a decade filled with hostess trolleys and endless dinner parties, a time that saw pub lunches become trendy and when McDonald's launched in the UK. From adored dishes still cherished today to forgotten favourites, we take a stroll down memory lane with these surreal meals, iconic product launches and beloved recipes from the 1970s.

Read on to discover the best British foods we all fell in love with in the 1970s, counting down to the best of them all. 

We've based our ranking on the enduring popularity of each food item in its place of origin and beyond, and on the opinions of our well-travelled (and well-fed) team. This list is unavoidably subjective.

31. Chicken in a basket

<p>Michael C. Gray/Shutterstock</p>

Michael C. Gray/Shutterstock

Can you remember this popular presentation trick? Chicken in a basket – featuring battered, deep-fried chicken served with fries in a plastic basket – is thought to have been invented at a pub in the Cotswolds. The fad quickly caught on, becoming a go-to hack in pubs and casual restaurants throughout Britain by the late 1960s and 1970s. Places with live entertainment offering this dish became known by performers as the ‘chicken-in-a-basket circuit'.

30. Super Noodles

<p>Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock</p>

Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock

Jumping on the instant noodle bandwagon, legendary snack brand Kellogg’s went on to launch Super Noodles in 1979. Designed to rival the ever-popular Pot Noodle (see number 16 on this list), the product could be made by adding boiling water, the sachet flavours and letting the ingredients rehydrate before digging in. Now produced by Batchelors, an assortment of flavours are available today, from Thai Sweet Chilli to Pulled Pork.

29. Findus Crispy Pancakes



This frozen product may have been brought out by Findus in the late 1950s but its popularity continued to soar, reaching its peak between the 1970s and 1990s. An easy mid-week dinner or after-school snack, each pancake was filled, folded and complete with a crunchy breaded coating. It came in a few flavour options, from Minced Beef to Ham and Cheese.

28. Pineapple rings



Tinned fruit may have been introduced in the 1920s but the 1960s and 1970s are where it really came into its own. Every kitchen in Britain had a can lurking in the store cupboard, making its way onto plates as an easy dessert option or cut up into cheese, pickled onion and pineapple sticks for a quick buffet accompaniment. It also played a vital role in the retro, sticky yet delicious pineapple upside-down cake.

27. Devils on horseback

<p>Matthew Mendoza/Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0</p>

Matthew Mendoza/Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

These may look like tasty pigs in blankets, but this classic Christmas canapé is actually made up of cheese- or almond-stuffed dates wrapped in crispy bacon. Although they sound a bit on the strange side, the balance of sweet, salty and savoury flavours works in a bizarrely delicious way. Thought to date back to 19th century Britain, their popularity peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s.

26. Yorkie

<p>Leo Reynolds/Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0</p>

Leo Reynolds/Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Landing in UK supermarkets in 1976, the Yorkie is famously known for its masculine-led advertising campaigns. Set up by Rowntree’s, the chunky milk chocolate bar was launched to compete with Cadbury’s famed Dairy Milk. Now owned by Nestlé, the bar dropped its male-focused branding in the early 2010s and continues to be enjoyed today in a variety of styles, from Raisin & Biscuit to Honeycomb.

25. Alpen

<p>Philip Kinsey/Shutterstock</p>

Philip Kinsey/Shutterstock

It's hard to imagine a time without a classic bowl of nourishing muesli, and Alpen certainly helped spread its popularity when it launched in 1971. The idea arose after one of Weetabix's board members tried Swiss muesli on a family skiing trip. Over 50 years later and the brand remains the UK's top choice. Alpen went on to expand into Canada in the early 1970s and the US in the 1990s.

24. Gelatine



Can you remember a time when just about everything was encased in gelatine? In the 1970s, this became the norm, with people across the country hosting dinner parties with jelly-covered dishes at centre stage. From whole fish to spaghetti hoops, anything and everything became striking centrepieces. We think we’ll stick to using the ingredient in dessert-based dishes only.

23. Hula Hoops

<p>KP Snacks/belfast jack/YouTube</p>

KP Snacks/belfast jack/YouTube

The decade of the crisp, the 1970s saw a huge rise in the salty snack, with several iconic brands we know and love today launching throughout. Among them was Hula Hoops, a crunchy potato and corn hybrid produced by KP Snacks in 1973. Its distinctive 3D shape and ability to slip onto fingers made it an instant hit with children.

22. Cheese fondue

<p>margouillat photo/Shutterstock</p>

margouillat photo/Shutterstock

Although fondue is thought to have been around since the 17th century in Switzerland, its popularity grew in the 1930s after the Swiss Cheese Union promoted cheese consumption. Its popularity grew globally in the 1960s, becoming a dinner party favourite in Britain by the 1970s. A molten pot of Gruyère – with a splash of wine poured in  served alongside pieces of bread and meat for dunking, it provided the perfect set up for a chilled night in.

21. Devilled eggs

<p>Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock</p>

Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Part of the hostess trolley era in the 1970s, you would typically find these carts in lower-middle class homes adorned with easy-to-make savoury dishes that housewives had been busily making all day. Enjoyed as part of the selection were devilled eggs, made by scooping the yolks from hard-boiled eggs and whipping them up with mustard, mayonnaise, paprika and sometimes other ingredients. They would then be piped back onto the eggs and served as a delicious bite-sized canapé.

20. Monster Munch

<p>Ben Gingell/Shutterstock</p>

Ben Gingell/Shutterstock

This savoury snack landed on supermarket and newsagent shelves in the late 1970s and continues to be one of Britain’s best loved snacks. Created by Smiths, the brand was initially rolled out as ‘The Prime Monster’, a novelty nod on the Prime Minister but was quickly rebranded as Monster Munch in 1978. Now manufactured by Walkers, these crunchy snacks are shaped like monsters' feet and come in distinctive flavours, such as Roast Beef, Pickled Onion and Spicy Flamin’ Hot.

19. Curly Wurly



Joining the Cadbury family in 1970, the super chewy caramel-centred chocolate bar has been delighting children and adults alike for over five decades. Its origin is an unusual one, created by David John Parfitt when he began experimenting with excess toffee at the Cadbury factory. It remains a nostalgic favourite enjoyed today.

18. Trifle



From restaurants to Granny’s house, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a show-stopping trifle on display. The earliest reference found in cookery books dates all the way back to the 16th century, though it's thought the style we know and love today didn’t appear until the mid-18th century. The dish – complete with jelly, sponge, custard, cream and fruits – became a hugely popular pudding by the 1970s, often topped with maraschino cherries.

17. Frazzles

<p>Ben Gingell/Shutterstock</p>

Ben Gingell/Shutterstock

First released by Smiths in 1975, Frazzles has gone on to become one of the country’s most cherished snacks. Styled to look and taste like rashers of bacon, the corn-based salty treat is now owned by Walkers. It’s known best for its crunchy texture and signature deep-red packaging.

16. Pot Noodle

<p>Golden Wonder/2ombieboy’s VHS Vault/YouTube</p>

Golden Wonder/2ombieboy’s VHS Vault/YouTube

Conceived in 1977 by Golden Wonder, the Pot Noodle has been a British family-loved staple for almost 50 years. Ready in minutes, the instant noodle just needs boiling water added to rehydrate its tasty contents. Taken over by Unilever in 1995, popular flavours continue to be Chicken & Mushroom, Beef & Tomato and Original Curry.

15. Skittles

<p>Mars, Inc./Bionic Disco/YouTube</p>

Mars, Inc./Bionic Disco/YouTube

Fruity, chewy and all-round delicious, Skittles has been a part of British culture since its initial launch in 1974. The hard sugar-shelled sweet quickly became a hit, with each pack filled with signature flavours including blackcurrant, lemon, lime, orange and strawberry. Still loved today, the brand comes in a variety of different flavour packs and styles, including Wild Berry and Crazy Sours.

14. Egg McMuffin



Following success in the USA, McDonald's took things global, opening its first location in the UK in 1974. The now-legendary McDonald’s Egg McMuffin arrived shortly after in 1975 and has since gone on to gain a global following. Sandwiched between a toasted English muffin, each delicious breakfast favourite consists of a perfectly round fried egg (cooked in a ring), a slice of crisp bacon and a slice of melty American cheese. Part of the chain’s iconic breakfast menu, the dish is now a fast food classic.

13. Vol-au-vent

<p>AS Foodstudio/Shutterstock</p>

AS Foodstudio/Shutterstock

Thought to originate in Paris during the early 19th century, this pastry-packed dish became a canapé staple in Britain during the 1970s. The small circular pastry cases were typically filled with everything from cooked mushrooms to coronation chicken and prawn mayonnaise, sometimes complete with a petite puff pastry lid. We'd love to see these ones back lining the Christmas buffet table.

12. Vesta ready meals

<p>Retro AdArchives/Alamy Stock Photo</p>

Retro AdArchives/Alamy Stock Photo

Dating back to the 1960s, Vesta was one of the first brands to help kickstart the ready meal era. The products, brought to life by Batchelors, focused on Asian flavours, with everything from chow mein–inspired dishes to curries available. The brand became increasingly popular in the 1970s and 1980s, and can still be enjoyed today.

11. Birds Eye Arctic Roll



No children’s birthday party was complete without a slice of this classic British dessert. Although invented by Ernest Velden in the 1950s, this Swiss roll-like frozen treat grew in popularity in the 1970s thanks to the launch of Birds Eye’s raspberry version. Sadly, its demand has depleted in recent years, with the product being discontinued and relaunched several times, so enjoying a slice isn’t the easiest these days.

10. Quarter Pounder



This 4oz (113g) burger – complete with ketchup, mustard, onion, dill pickles and a sesame seed bun – was added to McDonald’s menus in the US in 1973, before landing in the UK the following year. It has always been seen as one of the more upmarket fast food burgers, but these days even more so as it’s made with fresh rather than frozen beef and cooked to order.

9. Angel Delight



Launched by Bird’s, this retro dessert landed on supermarket shelves in the late 1960s and became an instant hit, with its popularity peaking in the 1970s. Angel Delight, now produced by Premier Foods, is a powdered packet that can be easily whipped up with milk in minutes to make a creamy pudding. Still available today, its core flavours include Strawberry, Butterscotch, Chocolate and Banana.

8. Chicken Kiev



Though its origins are hotly contested (with recipes thought to date back to the 19th century), the chicken Kiev we know today landed in the UK in 1979 when upmarket retailer Marks & Spencer launched its first ever ready meal. Produced by product developer Cathy Chapman, the crispy, garlicky breaded chicken was inspired by a restaurant dish and originally featured a bone sticking out the side. The chilled product was an immediate success and went on to become loved into the 1980s and beyond.

7. Carrot cake

<p>Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock</p>

Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Positioned as a healthy alternative to other puddings thanks to the nutrients in the veg, the carrot cake became increasingly popular throughout the 1970s. However, it’s usually a very sugary bake made with grated carrots, raisins, cinnamon, oil and sugar, and topped with cream cheese frosting. Still, it gained traction thanks to its deliciousness and continues to be a beloved classic enjoyed today.

6. Smash



Making home cooks’ lives a whole lot easier was the clever introduction of packet instant mash. While it was first introduced in the early 1900s, it wasn’t until UK brand Smash launched a clever campaign in the 1970s – featuring ‘Smash Martians’ who would laugh at humans for laboriously making mashed potato from scratch – that its popularity began to soar. Originally produced by Cadbury, you simply had to mix water and milk into the potato granules, and you’d be left with creamy, lump-free mash every time.

5. Creme Egg

<p>Craig Russell/Shutterstock</p>

Craig Russell/Shutterstock

It’s hard to imagine a time without these gooey delights. The British chocolate giant Cadbury was already renowned for its Dairy Milk by this point, so when it launched the Creme Egg in 1971, fans went wild. Complete with a hard milk chocolate shell, the centre was filled with an oozy white and yellow fondant, reminiscent of an egg. The creamy snack is now a beloved Easter treat.

4. Quiche Lorraine

<p>Slawomir Fajer/Shutterstock</p>

Slawomir Fajer/Shutterstock

The delicious dish was first introduced to the British public following WWII when soldiers brought the savoury treat home after sampling it in France. Its popularity continued to soar into the 1970s and 1980s, becoming a buffet staple and easy midweek meal. Sumptuously rich and savoury, it typically contains crispy bacon lardons, cheese (Gruyère, Emmental or Cheddar), eggs and cream, all baked into a golden pastry case.

3. Prawn cocktail



From the 1960s to the end of the 1980s, this seafood staple soared, becoming a popular starter enjoyed in restaurants and at dinner parties all over Britain. Served inside a glass, it featured cooked, shelled prawns, tangy Marie Rose sauce (ketchup and mayonnaise), lettuce and a wedge of lemon. While it’s definitely not as popular today, you’ll still sometimes find it featuring on pub and restaurant menus.

2. Black Forest gâteau



As beautiful as it is delicious, Black Forest gâteau was the obvious choice to round off a dinner party by the 1970s. Known as schwarzwälder kirschtorte in Germany, it's a light, creamy, layered cake with bitter chocolate, sour cherries and boozy kirsch.

1. Chicken tikka masala



Thought to have been invented in the 1970s by a Bangladeshi chef in Glasgow, Scotland, chicken tikka masala is now considered to be the country's national dish. Chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices, grilled then served in a creamy tomato-based sauce. Rich and fragrantly spiced, it's not overly spicy and remains a favourite today.

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