REWIND to the early 1980s. I’ve broken-up from school for the Christmas holidays. A few days before the big day, the cupboard under the stairs becomes well-stocked with a variety of drinks: fizzy cans of Coke and Idris ginger beer, stronger stuff like Skol lager, Tennent’s Super and Special Brew. The cupboard under the stairs was ideal for storing drinks as it was cool and dark – it also was home to the fifty-pence gas meter and the route to the cellar. Included in the drinks collection under the stairs was Babycham; they came in packs of four delightful small bottles, partially enclosed in a box
In our household, Babycham was the kind of starter drink to build-up alcohol tolerance. In my younger years, I’d sit on dad’s knee and have a sip of his Long Life beer out of the can; this initial contact with alcohol was during the mid-1970s. I’d have to wait until the early 80s for a decent helping of alcohol – enter Babycham.
A Christmas drinks stock without Babycham would be totally disgraceful in our house: it was part of our Christmas drinks stock DNA! I loved Babycham. I felt like a refined 12-year-old sipping the sparkling perry. The one thing that took the gloss off my refined, pre-teenage image was that I’d drink Babycham either straight from the bottle or from a tall Ravenhead drinking glass – if only we’d had a set of those beautiful Babycham champagne glasses. It’s been a few years since I’ve had a glass of Babycham. The curiousity got to me on recently and I searched the alcohol section in Sainsbury’s for Babycham; sadly there was none. I’m now on the hunt for not only the drink but also the matching champagne glasses.
The Babycham story began in Shepton Malet, Somerset, in the 1940s. The four Showerings brothers (Arthur, Ralph, Herbert and Francis) ran a brewery and cider making business. Francis developed a clear sparling drink made from perry pears. The drink was bottled in 1950: intitially it was in large bottles but then the size changed to baby bottles and called Champagne de la Poire and Champagne de la Pomme. The new drink was successful and won competitions at agricultural shows. The drink became known as the Baby Champ. Babycham was launched throughout the country in 1953; the target market were women and television advertising began in 1957. By the 1960s, Babycham was the largest selling alcoholic drink amongst women. It was also the time when the Babycham Babe beauty contest began. Television advertising continued throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. From the 1950s to the 1970s, Babycham was seen as an upmarket and glamorous drink; today its seen by many as a retro drink.
Enjoyed the blog? A nostalgic collection of blogs featuring a fun and factual look back at British advertising, leisure and entertainment from the 70s and 80s are featured in the new hardback book, Section N Underpass. Get the rundown here by clicking here: Retro Book: Section N Underpass