Staying power: Wagon Wheels, Fray Bentos pies and Quality Street

LAST weeks blog was about drinks and munchies from yester-years – Opal Fruits, Marathon and 5-4-3-2-1 were mentioned. Whilst Opal Fruits and Marathon are still alive and kicking under different names, the same can’t be said of 5-4-3-2-1.

I had a fruitful trip to Poundland this week  …  Nivea mens shower gel, 30 brown envelopes and Neutradol air freshener – all three for three quid (may sound obvious but not everything in Poundland is one quid as you’ll find out later in this blog).

There were a few items, that were once heavily advertised on television, that has held onto their original name and are still being churned out – items that have seem to be held down with Super Glue 3 and show no signs of shifting. Here goes …


Wagon Wheels


wagon wheel
Wagon Wheels from yester-years

And here the debate begins. I’ve heard numerous stories that over the years the size of wagon wheels have shrunk more than a jumper that’s gone through a hot wash. Stories of wagon wheels once being so huge that jaws would seize-up halfway through chomping were not uncommon. The once jaw-jamming wheels are still around at the bargain price of £1.

2018 Wagon Wheels




Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney pies




The strapline used in advertising was ‘No lumps, fat or gristle … guaranteed!’ Once regularly advertised on television this was a time-saver for many not wanting to faff around rolling puff pastry or chopping up beef and kidney.  I’ve not eaten one of these in years but that’s about to change this weekend – I’ll let you know if it’s still fat and gristle-free next weekend. The price … £1.


2018 Steak & Kidney pie




Quality Street


Quality street
Back in the day – Quality Street in a metal tin


We began on a controversial note so we’ll finish on one. They didn’t have a tin or plastic box of Quality Street in Poundland, but they did have a triangular-shaped box selling for not £1 but £2! A big metal tin of Quality Street was a common feature on living room tables over the Christmas period – it would last for ages! The soft-centred ones were commonly gobbled-down first and the harder ones left to rattle around in the tin. Today, Quality Street are less likely to be in a metal tin. Have Quality Street had the shrunken jumper treatment? All facts, figures and measurements will be gladly received so let us know.





Three products with staying power – money for television advertising seems to have dried-up but they are still with us. The odd nip and tuck plastic surgery and internal organ transplant means they’ll most likely outlast many of us!


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Missed last weeks’ blog? Check it out here: Thirst-busters and munchies from yesterday-years

4 thoughts on “Staying power: Wagon Wheels, Fray Bentos pies and Quality Street”

  1. I still eat the Fray Bentos S&K pies – real comfort food! Wagon Wheels are definitely smaller but still quite tasty. Quality Street – several of the sweets have changed and the plastic boxes are small and not that appealing. We did buy a metal tin at Christmas but I think was a special. However – I think it may have been this blog which featured a Woolworths’ Christmas catalogue from the 1970s. It included the fondly remembered large tins of Roses & QS and what struck me was how expensive they actually were in terms of the money available to families then – which is presumably why they were only available at Christmas and why the amount you get is so much less.

    1. Hi Christine, I have a Fray Bentos S&K pie in the cupboard – I’ll cook it before the weekend. Interesting point about large tins of Roses and Quality Street – can you remember how much they were in the Woolies catalogue (I didn’t do that blog but sounds good). Thanks for your comment.

      1. Hi, David
        Couldn’t find a catalogue but just spent an hour trawling through old Woolies adverts on YouTube. I think this one is closest to what I saw I think I was looking at late 70s/early 80s. I started work in 1974 and took home £89 a month. My Dad earned more, obviously, but he was in a manual job and we were a family of six; the QS are advertised at £4.99 (but with a RRP of £6.83) for 3kg. So relatively speaking, a bit pricey. The modern plastic boxes are half the size or less and cost about the same but are actually a lot more affordable – but (IMHO) not really so much of a treat.

        Although like most, I have happy memories of Woolworths at Christmas, quite a bit of the stuff seems relatively expensive for what looks like very poor quality – don’t think their ‘furniture’ offerings would stand up well against IKEA!

      2. Thanks for your reply and sharing. I love the Woolies video! The tin of QS in the ad in £6.89 – this was in 1981. I thinking back to 81 I’d just started secondary school and & £6.89 does sound a tad expensive. The other think is that maybe at that time QS was seen as a more expensive treat for the family at special times of the year – Christmas! No QS are much more affordable but not really seen as a premium offering. Gosh I never bought any of their furniture – a local furniture shop of MFI was our choice.

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