What did children eat and drink?

An illustrated street scene showing a tea room A popular tearoom would serve good quality scones, fruit cakes and tea for their customers

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In the early 1900s, tea was Britain's favourite drink. Lemonade and ginger beer were popular with children.

Tearooms such as Lyons Corner Houses served scones, fruit cakes, jam tarts and buns, as well as fruit breads and crumpets. The national success of such tearooms set the standard for good quality and service at affordable prices.

Another tea-time treat came from the 'muffin man', who walked the streets selling bread-like, flat buns, best eaten toasted. He would ring a bell to tell everyone he was around.


Weights and measures

Two girls being served in a sweet shop

Shopkeepers in the 1900s weighed sweets using imperial measurements instead of the metric system we have today.

1 lb (pound) is equal to 0.45kg (kilograms)

Sweetshops sold many kinds of hard-boiled candies such as humbugs, peppermints, aniseed balls and pear drops, kept in big glass jars. The shopkeeper would weigh out the sweets and hand them to customers in a paper bag.

Liquorice sticks, toffee, and 'tiger nuts' - sweet, chewy nuts from Spain - were also popular. There was chocolate too, but it was rare. The first chocolate bars only started to show up in the shops during the early 1900s.

For more substantial meals, there were fish and chip shops and pie shops on the streets of many towns.

Sadly, there were a lot of very poor families who ate only one meal a day. They got by on tea, bread and jam and dripping. They might get a meal with meat (maybe boiled bacon and potatoes) just once a week, on Sunday.

Teachers' notes

Teachers' notes to accompany the 'What did children eat and drink?' section

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