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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Mr Todd's Grocery Shop

Tina’s questions about the food we ate when we were children set me to a lot more remembering.  I started thinking how my Mother shopped when I was a child.

One morning each week she would button me into a warm coat and we would walk to Todd’s, our local grocer.  There she would sit down on the bent wood chair provided and tell Mr Todd what she wanted.  A lot of food was delivered to his shop in bulk packages and kept in barrels until wanted by a customer, although being a sensible chap Mr Todd had some things weighed and packaged ready.  Currants were wrapped in coarse blue paper (I think it was called sugar paper) and butter and lard cut off the big block in whatever quantity the customer wanted.  Biscuits were sold loose from big glass topped display boxes.  There were a few tins on the shelves but we ate far less convenience food – a tin of baked beans was definitely a treat.  If I had been a very good girl there would be a small bag of sweets for me so I had an incentive to be at my most charming and well behaved self.  

 When she had given her order Mother would be given an itemised bill which she would pay cash.  And then we would leave the shop, with me carrying my precious two ounces of sweets.

The rest of the order would be delivered later the same day by a lad on a bike, something like the one in this picture.  It would be packed in a cardboard box – carrier bags were a rarity and not very popular because they had string handles which cut your hands.

Today I am waiting for my order from Tesco.  I don’t have to go to the shop to order because I choose on-line but it seems as though after many years of struggling with getting the shopping home in a rush so the frozen stuff doesn’t melt, we are returning to something like the way my mother shopped.  Everything is carried into the house for me, just as the grocer’s lad carried it in all those years ago for my mother.

And all too often I order a little treat because these days I don’t have to worry whether or not I have been a good girl.  I don’t think I would get many treats if I set myself that condition.


  1. I lived in London as a child and I think we were bombarded with supermarkets way before the back and beyond villages like the one I live in now. I do remember my mum having a wicker basket and I now have several round the house. Maybe that's my fondness for things of the past x

  2. Even in Scunthorpe (where I grew up) the likes of Mr Todd's shop had closed down by the time I was a teenager. (I was born 1951) When I take a my rose coloured spectacles off I realise that shopping like that would drive me crazy but I'll keep my RTS for everyday wear.

  3. Ahh a life without supermarkets, sounds blissful. Bet a lot less got wasted too.