Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Is there anything better than being in a museum and looking into one of the display cases and seeing an exhibit there, behind glass, nicely lit and arranged, and being able to say, “I’ve got one of those and it’s in better condition than that one”?

Well yes of course there are many things better than that, but the above happened to me in the Robert Opie’s Museum of Brands. Packaging and Advertising, in Notting Hill in London.  The article in question was a tin that had formerly held Huntley and Palmers (note the absence of an apostrophe) Cocktail Assorted Biscuits.  Here is my own "museum quality" tin:

As you see the great thing about it is that the tin shows a tin that shows a tin that shows a tin, and so on, ad infinitum.  I like that kind of thing.

Much of the Opie Museum is a big blast of nostalgia.  You get to see all the cans and packets and wrappers that you knew as a kid, all the chocolate bars and breakfast cereal and fizzy drinks, all the way up to a Watneys Party Seven (note the absence of an apostrophe).  And you observe how some designs have changed completely and some hardly at all.

And then there’s stuff you can’t quite believe – Tony the Tiger, for instance, now a lovable feline with a neckerchief was once considered a wild animal and had a big “dog” collar round his neck.

Now, we know the past is another country, but even so, I was surprised just how much cocktail-related stuff there apparently was in the English past.  Even Twiglets seem to have been sold as a “cocktail snack”.

True, my dodgy aunt and uncle who drove around in a yellow and black Ford Zodiac did have a cocktail cabinet with a light inside that lit up when you opened the front – hours of amusement there for a small pesky child.  But I don’t recall them mixing any cocktail.  The cabinet was much like this one:

And of course there’s some stuff you remember that isn’t there, and a lot of stuff that’s there that you don’t remember at all, and then there’s the stuff you find fairly hard to believe.  I mean it doesn’t seem so surprising that Heinz made Mock Turtle Soup.  But Real Turtle soup?  Where’s there time machine when you need one?

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