Sunday, 30 July 2017

Classic 70s and 80s Desserts Taste Test

I gave myself a break from knocking up 1970s culinary horrors this week, but as I'm still dedicated to the cause I have a special treat for you: I conducted a 2017 taste test of three classic 1970s and 1980s puddings. These are weekday puddings - the sort that required no skill to assemble and no cooking whatsoever. This was what was trotted out after your cod in parsley sauce (speaking of which, watch this space...) or your Findus Crispy Pancakes on a school night. They were acceptable in the 80s...but are they now? Lets meet the contenders:

For your delectation we have (clockwise from left): 

1. Tinned fruit cocktail in syrup - guys, I actually thought this was what fruit salad was until I was about 11. It consisted of small lumps of mainly unidentifiable fruits, some of which was definitely tinned peaches (heave). The best bit was the neon red cherries, but even they were crap. Usually served with vanilla ice cream cut from a slab and whacked in the bowl like a lurid yellow brick.

2. Arctic Roll - a sickly confection of vanilla ice cream, sponge and some sort of jam. This was a regular for dessert at my grandparents guesthouse in Eastbourne (powdery asparagus soup from a packet to start, rock hard gammon with peas, lumpy mash and a pineapple ring for mains).

3. Angel Delight - butterscotch flavour obviously. The chocolate flavour held so much promise but didn't deliver. Banana and strawberry were acceptable. Empty the packet into half a pint of milk, whisk it up and bit and you've got the food of the gods right there. Sprinkle with grated cooking chocolate if feeling posh.

I offered these for testing to three brave volunteers: a 41 year old male, a 39 year old woman and an 8 year old boy. (Guess which one was me). Findings and comments below:

1. Fruit cocktail and vanilla ice cream

Boy: "Well this looks lovely."
Male: "Reminds me of tea at my Nanny's house when I was little."
Female: "Can you identify any of the fruit?"
Male: "Well, there' Um...melon? Oh, a cherry, um, some white stuff and some orange stuff. Satsuma or something?" (Note: actual fruits are: peaches, cherries, grapes, pineapple and pear, not that any of them even slightly resemble what those should taste like).
Boy: "This is SO NICE. I'm giving it a 10."
Male: "7 from me. Can we finish it  off?"

2. Arctic Roll

Boy: "Oh yum, we have this for school dinners."
Male: "We used to have this at Nanny's house too."
Female: "It's pretty flavourless apart from the slight hint of jam that just tips it over the edge into rank territory."
Male: "It's got less texture and flavour than the fruit cocktail."
Boy: "This is the good stuff. It gets a 9."
Male: "6".
Female: "WTF? 3."

3. Butterscotch Angel Delight

Male: "Pretty sure I saw something in the cat's litter tray that looked like this last week." 
Child: "What even is it? It's like a squashed emoji poo."
Female: "It's a bit like mousse. Try it." 
*tentative tasting*
Child: "NO."
Male: "WRONG."
Female: "WHAT? This is the best 80s pudding ever. It tastes ever so slightly of bicarb and soap but mainly of happiness."
Male: "It's got a horrible texture and tastes of..."
Child: "Bums."
Male: "0"
Child: "0"
Female: "Can't hear you. Very busy eating."

Seriously internet, what is wrong with them? you agree with our results? And have you got any more questionable convenience desserts from childhood that you'd like me to test? (tinned peaches and evaporated milk coming next time so I need two more to add to the list).


  1. Tinned peaches and evap! Mmmmm. I'd eat that now.

  2. We used to have a disgusting pud that was macaroni in hot milk. With sugar obviously. The only time pasta ever made an appearance in our house. Omg it was foul. Please don't inflict it on your family!

  3. Obviously there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with male tastebuds in your house! Perhaps you should have topped the Angel Delight with bananas and chocolate chip cookies 😉

  4. Ambrosia creamed rice pudding! Still available. School used to produce tapioca pudding as well which texture-wise was like something from Halloween!