Friday 30 January 2015

Neuralgia and Nostalgia

For a warm dose of comforting nostalgia there are few better triggers than childhood recollections of confectionery treats. Online protestations of undying affection for long forgotten sweets and chocolate are easily found. The attendant miseries and insecurities of childhood are erased by the power of pleasures recalled – unwrapping and consuming sugary, candied and chocolate-coated concoctions. For the immediate post-war generation these memories carry extra weight due to the imposition of sweet rationing which lasted until February 1953. The resulting expansion in demand is reflected in these full colour, full page magazine ads as manufacturers fought for market share in a new climate of plenty. An armada of temptation was mobilised to get Britain munching and chomping its way to the top of the international league tables of consumption. The dark clouds of rampant tooth decay and childhood obesity lay just over the horizon. A Conservative opposition fought, and almost won the 1950 general election on the issue of ending rationing while the Labour incumbents campaigned for indefinite retention. This began the process of stigmatising egalitarianism as a joyless and pointless aspiration, a denial of consumer choice and a symbol of the horrors of a planned economy, echoes of which persist to the present day. It was an early example of Labour politicians committing to unpopular policies – another tradition that survives. 

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