Sadly school tuck shops have become very much a thing of the past. Healthy eating gurus now consider it inappropriate to sell the odd biscuit in school, with many schools either allowing a child to partake only of a small piece of fruit during morning break, or even nothing at all. Our brains benefit from a bit of a mid-morning boost, so denying children a small, healthy snack seems unreasonable.
But old-style school tuck shops weren’t just about the food, although I profess that I miss pop nuts (who remembers them, resembling Wotsits but with a nutty taste) and potato puffs. As snacks go these were actually lower calorie, lower fat than many of the crisps that we do buy today.
No, tuck shops were educational in a sense too, often run by pupils who had to learn about setting up displays and handling money. At my primary school, pupils in what is now known as year 6 (then 4th year juniors) were in charge of the tuck shop, with a rota system of different individuals manning the shop (well two trolleys parked in the corridor) for a week at a time.
We sold two Jammie Dodgers for a penny, three Cheddar biscuits for a penny, chocolate teacakes and of course, those much-missed pop nuts and potato puffs. We did not pig out on these products or grow fat on them, because we bought them in small quantities and they tended to be our one treat of the day. If we were lucky enough to be given a precious penny or two for tuck, we had to choose carefully. I suppose with today’s expectations children may arrive with fistfuls of cash and buy much more, as so many seem to receive a startling amount of pocket money now.
With the over-the-top restraints and rules of today, it would probably be expected that those handing out the biscuits etc (unwrapped from open packets) hold a Certificate in Food Hygiene – at the age of 11? Then there would be the question as to whether you should really split up packets of biscuits and sell them separately, or whether this actually is against the law!
Why have we made our lives so regimented and difficult that even school tuck shops no longer thrive? They were fun, educational and certainly hold fond memories for me of my school days.
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