In the year that Queen Elizabeth II is marking 60 years on the throne, North Hertfordshire College held an indoor street party with 1950s dress and food rationing tickets for a buffet serving food and drink straight from the year 1952.
Heavy rain had forced the street party to be held indoors but it did not stop the organisers from putting on a party fit for a queen. Stall holders had set out their wares selling curios, artwork and various items from the time period. The 1950s held immensely different values to those we hold today. Food rationing would eventually end but the decade is probably more fondly remembered for the age of decency, high morals and strong community values.
The party was open to anybody who wanted to come and was billed the Queen of Herts Diamond Jubilee Street Party. For many food played an important part in the lives on those who lived through the decade. The diet was almost always home cooked and limited to whatever the local shop on the street corner was selling. There were no supermarkets in that decade. One shopped for meat at the local butcher and fruit and vegetables from the greengrocers. Even beef dripping was a luxury and chicken was eaten only at Christmas. There were no takeaways save the local fish and chip shop. Ray Borge from Hereford shared his memories on the BBC magazine Your 1950s:
If you were hungry in between breakfast & dinner (lunch) you ate a jam sandwich or a biscuit from the broken biscuit tin, so called because they were broken biscuits from Woolworth, the Co-op or Liptons. There was never any bought crisps or choc bars. Mother would make crisps sometimes and toffee. She also made the bread. Apples and pears were eaten often and sometimes you might get a banana, which was a real treat! Vegetables like broccoli and asparagus hadn't been 'invented', so we never heard of it. We were always made to eat everything on our plates and 'eat your greens up' was a constant phrase. The Corona popman would come round on a Friday selling bottles of lemonade. You'd save up the empty bottles which were worth tuppence each.
When folk spoke of going to McDonalds they would have been referring to the local farmer. Butter was sold from large blocks which the grocer chopped up into a slab. Even salt was cut from a small rock which had to be ground once you got home. Milk was delivered by horse-drawn cart which came full and creamy and semi-skimmed was unheard of. Cheese was cut off from huge roundels and sugar was scooped out of a sack with a ladle. Bacon was one of the last remaining foodstuffs to still be rationed almost right into the latter part of the decade but a meat stock meal was eaten almost daily by everyone and any leftover were used in the following day's scram. Vegetarianism had not seen the light of day yet.