Thursday, 30 April 2009

The Queen's Breakfast

Not getting out much this week, as you can see. Last night I sat staring into the middle distance pondering my sins and I started to look in detail at this label. So what's a marmalade jar doing in my living room? Well, I've been using an unopened giant 907g jar as a paper weight (best before date June 1999), but in any case I've always loved this label since I first saw it on childhood breakfast tables. Robertson's have been using a very similar design since at least Edwardian times when the label was pasted onto stone jars. All that's really changed since then are the number of oranges- far more in 1905- which may tell us something. Reading it as a six year old I think it was the first time I'd heard of a place called Paisley, nowadays it may be the first time a child sees the name Manchester. Her Majesty obviously likes it, I think it's a design classic and should be in the pantheon of such things that obviously includes the inviolate Lyle's Golden Syrup tin. Having said all that I'm now feeling guilty that my marmalade of choice is in fact Wilkin's Tiptree Orange & Tangerine. Mind you the way it's going round here I'll soon be twisting the cap off the Golden Shred. I had some year old Shredded Wheat the other night.

23 comments:

Jon Dudley said...

Didn't John Gorham weave this label onto the cover of 'The English Difference' ? It's superb. These and other masterpieces of graphic design ought to be listed like buildings - Tate and Lyle and Fowlers Black Treacle are definitely Grade1. By the way I see Rennart have a copy of TED for fifty quid!

James and Maggie said...

Peter, first as a recent visitor to your excellent blog, may I say thanks for a lot of stuff that's right up my street. Second, I too have always admired this marmalade label not least because of it's use of 'Gill Sans' probably my favourite typeface since college (many years). I too err on the side of the 'Tiptree' brand with it's classic 'Copperplate' black and white label. Actually I decided some years ago, whilst listening to desert island discs with the wife (thetartist) at breakfast, that if I were ever summoned by Kirsty Young to the afforementioned island, then Wilkin and Son's Marmalade would be my luxury!

Peter Ashley said...

Jon: You're absolutely right. Gorham's cover for The English Difference does indeed feature the label. You have also started me thinking about how these artefacts of everyday life could be celebrated even more. Thankyou.

James: Thankyou and welcome, as David Frost didn't say. So glad you're a Tiptree fan. Their factory does teas out near the Essex marsh country, not far from the scene of Jeremy Bamber's murders. I love odd facts that have geographic but otherwise unrelated interconnection. Oh dear, I'm sounding like Iain Sinclair. No bad thing.

Vinogirl said...

Peter, thank you so much for this post. I love Golden Shred, it is the only marmalade I have ever eaten.
I tell anyone who will listen, Yanks usually, that GS is the only thing that got me through homesickness in California. It is a curious thing, but the local supermarkets have always stocked this Robertson's staple...it's a staple to me anyway. When I was feeling particularly far away from home a nice maramalade butty, (you can take the girl out of Liverpool...), or tea and toast with huge gobs of GS always made me feel better. It really was a life saver.
It doesn't travel too well however. It's extremely thick over here and can be a little difficult to spread...but it still tastes great.
(As much as I love Golden Shred, I really don't like Silver Shred...do they still make it?)

Peter Ashley said...

I think they still do Silver Shred. Isn't it made from lemons instead of oranges? And, funnily enough, I've just discovered an uncut sheet of their Scotch Marmalade labels. The joy of walking around printing house floors. So, there's the endpapers sorted if I do a book on this kind of thing.

CMS said...

Aaahh - a classic design.
James and Maggie - Gill Sans is also my favourite typeface. I'm often ridiculed for even having a favourite typeface [and calling it a typeface instead of font]. Fools!

Toby Savage said...

My Uncle Merv was partial to the Wilkin's and my Aunt used to keep the jar topped up with a far cheaper brand bought in bulk. He never found out. Devious things women. Watch out!

Diplomate said...

Yes yes - Mr gill, marvelous (cue Lord Ashley's anecdotes) - but - re vinogirls'comment about a stiffer consistency state-side, i think i've detected a change in the specification of the GS also. Now, not so long ago I had cause to mention the problem with No57's bean recipe and am even more certain now of a complete flanker being pulled under the guise of a "new label" - dropping the "baked" cos it was wasted on us - well frankly, bollocks to all that, the re-labelling was obviously a ploy to sneak in an inferior product and I am issueing a notice to the kitchen staff at DH to strike said bean from the stores. Am i going to have to do the same with the Golden Shred? Worse still I've now been through the entire pantry on a testing session and have ear-marked the following as suspect in respect of subliminal recipe changes(cost cutting or, worse still, out-sourcing): Ovaltine, Horlicks, Branston Pickle, Marmite (gone runny) and it appears we need to carry out exhuastive tests on a packet of Ginger Nuts. MORE GROCERIES !

Bucks Retronaut said...

Funny how things interlink......My favourite typeface is Johanna by Gill, who named it after a daughter, and established a commune in Speen, a village up in the Chilterns near my stamping ground.
Had a bit of a habit with a habit, so I am told.......
And purely as an aside, I don't think Golden Shred has tasted the same since the disappearance of our little sunburnt friend...Now that`s Logo Power!

Thud said...

I'm with Vinogirl on this...I know there are supposedly better products but I just love this stuff....the label is a welcome bonus.

Diplomate said...

AND ! i've just been informed, Jordan's muesli, fruit&nut. I have had to rush to investigate a scream from the dining room in the west wing at Diplo Hall. A sorry scene of depressed exhasperation -" they've changed the bloody muesli recipe " ( that from Mrs Diplo who understands cereals). I am glad to report that in my dining room(in the East wing) all is well with Mr Coales' kidneys and 13 week salt cured bacon - mind you I will get the butler to drop him a line asking him to make sure no changes are in the pipe line.

Diplomate said...

Peter - i make no appologies for hijacking your blog. This continuity campagne is actually yours after all. I'm afraid you need another regular slot - say Fridays to vent your concerns about change for the worse - groceries just happens to be a gentle place to start. Over to you.

Peter Ashley said...

What a good idea Diplo. A Friday Rant. I would start with endless television trailers, but I'm trying to sychophantically keep in with the BBC at the momwnt. And hi-jack away, just don't wrestle the controls off me with an Uzzi pressed into my neck.

Peter Ashley said...

Or even 'moment'.

Bucks Retronaut said...

.......and another thing !
What about the difference in `atmosphere` outside the tent on the label of Camp coffee essence,since the label was revised then eh?!
(Unfortunately I can`t help as to whether the product has changed in any way because I can`t stand the stuff.)

Peter Ashley said...

Mmm. It still says 'Ready Aye Ready' on the flag. I did buy some Camp few years ago in a typical kitchen table pose. "Oh, your coffee comes in a bottle". It tasted absolutely vile. I think it says somewhere it's 'chicory essence' which transalates as 'cake ingredient'.

Jon Dudley said...

Agreed, disgusting stuff but it just shows the mighty power of classic packaging. Indeed, the Indian soldier was originally depicted serving coffee on a tray to his Scots (and presumably) superior officer. Now they sit as equals in rank both about to vomit after tasting the vile liquid. As you can imagine, Lord Rothermere's mighty organ exposed this earth-shattering modernisation of the label as far back as 2006. Apparently sensitivities were mollified although the brand owners denied any pressure from the PC lobby being brought to bear, citing instead a process of continuing branding improvement - presumably they sell 6 instead of 5 bottles worldwide now.

Ron Combo said...

Uncle Hector used to drink Camp coffee and I have to say that after the first 200 cups it doesn't taste too bad.

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