Foods that take us straight back to our childhood revealed

A taste of the past… foods that take us straight back to our childhood revealed as searches for nostalgic dishes are on the rise

  •  There has been a rise in online searches for retro foods over the last three years

Whether it’s golden runny eggs with neat buttery toast soldiers or a bowl of bright pink jelly with vanilla ice cream, the food from our childhood can transport us back to those blissful days more effectively than anything else.

And now a poll has revealed exactly which foods we most associate with our younger years.

Jelly, unsurprisingly, comes top of the list thanks to its presence at children’s tea parties. 

More than four in ten of us (42 per cent) associate it with our childhoods. Those other classic kids’ meals of fish fingers and soft-boiled dippy eggs and soldiers came in joint second.

Another retro pudding – custard – made it to seventh place, with 32 per cent of us associating it with our youth. Party rings were also firm nostalgic favourites.

Wobbly jelly ranks first, with 42% of respondents ranking it top due to its presence at children’s tea parties

The study of 2,000 adults, commissioned by Wrigley’s Extra gum, found that almost a quarter of us still eat one of our best-loved childhood foods at least once a week.

The research also found that a stick of fruity flavoured gum instantly transports one in four (42 per cent) people back to their youth.

In fact, more than a third (37 per cent) say they automatically associate the tantalising flavour combination of lemon and strawberry with their adolescence.

But the classic school staple of lumpy custard is seemingly more difficult to swallow – with just under a quarter (24 per cent) of Brits saying they never want to taste it again.

Half (49 per cent) of the nation claim sharing nostalgic meals or snacks with loved ones brings them closer together.


1. Wobbly Jelly – 42%

2. Boiled eggs and soldiers – 34%

3. Fish Fingers – 34%

4. Home-cooked roasts dinner – 33%

5. Biscuits from a metal tin – 32%

6. Ice-cream – 32%

7. Custard – 32%

8. Ice-pops – 30%

9. Jam Sandwiches – 30%

10. Baked beans – 25%

Within this group, 58 per cent said their reasoning is because they can discuss fond memories of the food.

A fifth of those surveyed said enjoying nostalgic treats helped to reduce their anxiety and boost their mood.

There has been a rise in online searches for retro foods over the last three years. 

A report by Sainsbury’s last year found there had been a 218 per cent rise in online searches for Neapolitan ice cream and a 93 per cent increase for Battenberg cake.

Karina Solovey, senior brand manager at Extra, said: ‘We all love a trip down memory lane. After all, who doesn’t love a bowl of jelly and ice cream to perk up their day and transport them back to their childhood?’

According to psychology expert Jo Hemmings, positive experiences associated with a particular food can provoke strong feelings of comfort, security and happiness.

She said: ‘In order to qualify as a true nostalgic flavour, the food must fulfil at least two of three requirements: it must have comforting properties, sentimental appeal and be “insanely delicious”…

‘Senses trigger a chemical reaction in our brain, similar to the euphoria that we felt when experiencing this sensation for the first time as a child.

‘Taste and smell are among the strongest nostalgia triggers of all, instantly reminding us of when we felt happy and comforted.’

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