Frivolous Monsters

Steak Muffins

I’m kind-of dropping the Christmas ball with this post, but this past week whilst my Mum jetted off to Washington I went through the old family photos in her bedroom cupboard looking for period Santa pictures (see the previous post) and I ended up finding so, so, much more… I ended up discovering the world of Steak Muffins.  Christmas Eva Habermann Steak Muffins

One of the things I found was the church magazine that mentioned my baptism from 1977 – kept all this time, yet I’ve never seen it – and each page was a delight crammed as they are with seventies adverts for local shops that I found hilarious. So in much the same vein as Bush words and Bushwa, who exposes Australian history through the release of period newspapers from the archives, allow me to shine a light on the seventies in the north of England.  Mr PlumYou know from the name that they sell quality fruit and vegetables, but yet if you’re still not sure as to what they do: Courgettes, peppers, etc should clear things up. Either that or these were exotic produce then and worthy of squeezing into a tiny ad. Fancy Goods Fancy goods? Well la-de-dah, get you! In my imagination a 1977 “fancy good” might be a Goblin teasmade or a toasted-sandwich maker, but I don’t know. Fresh Bread You’ve gotta love a bakery that feels the need to advertise that they make fresh bread every single day. Their dedication knows no bounds.  OilLet them oil your sheepskin? No thanks… But what a job to have, as they seem to have a two-and-a-half hour lunch-break! I think I’ll hold out for someone a little more go-getting to oil my furs thank you very much.  MineralsA funeral directory that gives you personal attention… As opposed to what? An automated funeral? Robots processing the coffin? Still, after that freak show, you can pop into Holdens for sweets, cigarettes, and all the minerals you want… I’m thinking I’d like some Quartz, some Blue John, plenty of Iron Pyrite… And some new-laid eggs from next door.  Danish BaconAll those times I’ve wanted an expert in the field of Danish bacon and never known where to turn…All those times I’ve had Scandinavian water-infused pig product dilemmas… Next time I’ll just pop along to the Spar.

Now, some grounding in British cultural phenomena: in the sixties the kids use to form gangs of Mods and Rockers, cruise around on scooters, and get into fights. Whereas in the nineties the equivalent age group went to illegal raves held in disused buildings and farmer’s fields.  Mods Rockers RavesBut then, in-between these, in the seventies it seems to have got a little bit nasty.  Pie and peasPie and Peas parties? I bet they were a riot. Electricity ShowroomWhy does an “electricity showroom” sound so funny to me? I’m sure I’ve heard the phrase as a child, but I still can’t quite work out what it must have been.

And I’ve saved the best until last, the ad that should have put “famous” in inverted commas and they just keep on giving as they give to the world the creation of Steak Muffins! Which should just awful…  Steak Muffins

And like a euphemism for something… And if not for those then a euphemism for something much worse! According to the internet it’s not in common use, so I’m starting it here. Oxford English Dictionary, update your citations, it started here!

I’m not sure a meal in a snack is going to catch on… And the special feature of the pub: wine by the glass! The fact that it appears to be a modern invention makes the seventies look a bit prehistoric. Although if you wanted “privacy” and were squirreled away in the “Cottage Room” it does make it sound a bit dubious…

And another reminder for Danish bacon at the Spar… Just in case you’d forgotten already. The seventies looks like a laugh a minute.


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41 thoughts on “Steak Muffins

  1. I grew up in the seventies in the North. This all looks normal to me. Don’t they call them electricity showrooms anymore? I need to get out more…

    • I think we’ve moved on a bit! I’ve only seen the first series of Mad Men, about a sixties American advertising agency, but I like to think they’d baulk at those ads! And I haven’t heard the phrase “electricity showroom” for so many years, but I’ve figured out what it is now. And I guess the modern equivalent is Comet… And they’re not doing so well.

      • Oh electricity showroom! That was where your local, nationalised, supplier would have things on sale and where you could sort out problems (only ones to do with your electricity supply so far as I know, but perhaps someone can put me right here) and pay your bill. My parents got a chest freezer from SEEboard, the south eastern electricity board, cheap because it had a big scratch on it. Fine, it’s home was the garage anyway.

      • It seems a quaint odd mix of electricity suppliers and household items then. I don’t know when that sort of thing finished, but the internet has surely killed that sort of combo off! I guess it seems as odd now as someone offering the new invention of wine by the glass.

  2. Emmy Charlotte Watts on said:

    Is that your mum in the top pic? She’s pretty.

    • She is, isn’t she. And over sixty would you believe? Actually my Mum appeared in my last post and is due to make a more grown-up future appearance some time soon due to what else I found in the cupboard… That I never ever knew existed… I was staggered!

      And I’m glad you’re here now, Shoreditch girl, right? Because after I posted this I did a few Google searches (unfortunately “Steak Muffins” and “Meal in a Snack” is out there, although in odd connotations) but the first big hit thrown up for “electricity showroom” is down your street (or up your alley) with a fancy-looking bar called ‘Electricity Showroom’ and used to be a “electricity showroom” as their webpage starts off: “In the 1920’s, the good folk of Shoreditch shopped here for toasters, hoovers and the latest brand of gramophone”. I saw that, worked out what one was, and thought of you.

      • Emmy Charlotte Watts on said:

        It is almost literally up my street. I was going to mention it but I’ve never been in there so I didn’t really feel qualified to comment. Good to know that the Georgian hipsters bought their toasters and boomboxes there.

    • I like how they’ve redeveloped, but kept the name and the link with the past. Perhaps it sounds quaint and daft to them too. But they don’t shrink away from it as that description’s the first thing on their web page.

      • Emmy Charlotte Watts on said:

        Like my blog and the ridiculous magazine I used to make when I was a kid. I’m going to go to the Electricity Showrooms tomorrow. I have decided.

    • Yes you stuck with the past and gave it a modern take too. Enjoy the Electricity Showroom and I hope it turns out to be as good as it looks from the outside. I am starting to get a mental picture of Shoreditch after also finding out about one of your local coffee shops!

      • Emmy Charlotte Watts on said:

        The Shoreditch Grind is the best. If you’re ever in town you MUST visit. They do the best coffee, the staff are lovely and it’s a great place to people watch.

    • I shall look out for it then if I ever find myself there! By all counts I should wander around with my camera if your high street’s is anything to judge by those two places. Should we be expecting a blog post from you about the Electricity Showrooms any time soon?

      • Emmy Charlotte Watts on said:

        Shoreditch doesn’t have a high street as such. Well – there is technically a Shoreditch High Street but it’s not your average high street. I mean, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a Superdrug or a Jack Fulton. It’s more an array of high-end, All Saintsy clothes shops, trendy bars and pop-up art galleries.

      • Emmy Charlotte Watts on said:

        And, re Electricity Showrooms, no. Although I will be spending three days at my parents’ house over Christmas and they live in possibly the most boring village known to man, so no doubt I’ll be blogging to relieve the tedium.

    • Be a bit thankful for a high street that isn’t a clone of every other! I hope you have a good Christmas and we shall await your return to blog posting when the boredom starts to bite. But if you can enjoy it instead, then more the better.

  3. Even if my business was called the Roach Bank Inn there is no way I would be calling one of my menu items the Roach Special…. Ewwwww…

    • Whereas I think the Cottage room – for privacy – sounds very dubious, even more so that they’ve put it in inverted commas, and like their offering up some sort of space for gay dogging… Actually I just looked it up, and it wasn’t where I thought, and I think I might actually have been in there once! I can’t remember if it’s shut now, but it is a pub with a very large car park. The two don’t really go together these days.

      • Yes, the ‘Cottage room’ would not be high on my list of great venues. You are right though, pubs are not encouraged to have large carparks anymore are they? Less drunk driving and less space for brawling too…

        After reading about the pie and pea parties I remembered the Pie Floaters that are famous in South Australia . Not really party food!

    • A lot of the pubs around here have closed for many reasons. I think that one closed (not sure) because it’s a bit out of the way, away from most houses, but the one one the main road did get shut by the council because of its public street brawling! They’ve now converted it into two houses. Another one I pass now is for sale, in the way that everything in it is now for sale. Even the bar, the sign says, must go!

      Your pie-floaters would go down well here I think. It is pie and peas. I still don’t see how you get a party out of it!

      I’m not sure I got up to your level, of exposing the past through period documents, but I had a good time trying.

      • You did a good job! I love reading old advertising, it always makes me wonder how our current ads (print and tv) are going to be viewed by future critics like us.

        Some will always be popular (Sophie Monk and the Lynx balls ad for example 😉 ) but most I expect will be looked back at by people like us wondering what on earth the writers were thinking. What will ads be like in 50 years time do you think?

    • I don’t know. They already plumb some depths. I think diversifying into different forms other than print media and TV ads. Probably more explicit, or less if there’s a backlash… They’ve already cracked down on cigarettes, and advertising to children, so surely the thin and touched up models are next? Would there be less advertising of alcohol (to make us look like drunks) and more of pharmaceuticals as desperate companies push their wares with their massive marketing budgets? A grim world surely awaits…

      • They have already really cracked down on cigarette advertising here, they are not even allowed to advertise on their own packets now. They all have to be plain packaging with dire health warnings. As you can imagine the cigarette companies really fought that one but for a change the govt stood firm and enforced something!

        We have a great (and funny) tv series here called the Gruen Transfer. They break down advertising and it is a really good way of seeing how the ad companies use their powers against us. I will add this very funny clip of an ad they made that incorporates the current Coles campaign (our biggest supermarket) and the truth about them that we should really have all worked out for ourselves.

    • Very good, we have the same problems with the milk industry and the supermarkets over here where farmers are going spare because they’ve ended up having to sell their milk to them at a loss! It’s been going on like that for a while now and I’m not sure it’s getting sorted.

  4. I read this while having breakfast, the entire time wishing I had Danish bacon, new-laid eggs and fresh-made bread. Thanks for clearly pointing out these ads are from the 70s, us Americans are convinced you guys still carry on this way with your Fancy Goods and your Pie and Peas parties….

    • I’ve obviously let the mask slip. We do like people abroad to believe that we’re like that and that we’re all bumbling Hugh Grant-types.

      Actually many “northerners” do still have a fondness for their peas, be they mushy peas or black peas. The latter being a traditional Lancashire dish and, according to Wikipedia, still popular in these parts on or around Bonfire Night.

      I hope I’ve redeemed us all in your eyes, somewhat, with that information.

  5. if this was the 70s, these muffins had to be English/Breakfast muffins, not triple choc chip/double bypass muffins that supermarkets sell in plastic boxes of 4… so what the hell would Steak Muffin look like? A buttered muffin sandwich with a thin steak in the middle? which sounds vile.

  6. I would go to a ‘pie and pea’ party. Just saying 🙂

  7. I was thinking of having a Pie and Pea Supper for my birthday, and, eh oop…’re all invited 🙂

    • According to ‘a’ page on the internet the Blue Dolphin is still there with the same phone number as in 1977. And to correct the faded number from the ad, and add a local Manchester dialling code, that’s: 0161-766-3127. Give ‘em a ring and ask them about their party options… They’ll probably (metaphorically down the phone) stare at you blankly! I still can’t believe peas are such a draw!

  8. Gimme some of that roach special!!

  9. I think the whole Roach thing is a bit of an unfortunate name, sounds too much like a pet name for cockroach, roach special – meal in a snack, ugh!

    • You know, despite the comments above from Metan and Vyvacious I never picked up on that analogy. With roach I thought comparisons were being made to an ugly-looking fish… We do have cockroaches over here, but not in the same way as other hotter countries, and I think in my life I have seen one. We do have maybugs which look similar, but are completely different and lovely. Therefore the mention of “roach” doesn’t make our skin crawl. Also, I’ve figured out now, the pub is on the River Roach. We clearly live if a different world.

  10. M.Elizabeth Evans on said:

    “A funeral directory that gives you personal attention… As opposed to what? An automated funeral? Robots processing the coffin? Still, after that freak show, you can pop into Holdens for sweets, cigarettes, and all the minerals you want… I’m thinking I’d like some Quartz, some Blue John, plenty of Iron Pyrite… And some new-laid eggs from next door. ”

    This business plan writes itself.

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