The Inflating Shopping Basket

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20150118

Every year the nation's shopping habits are analysed as the CPI - the Consumer Price Index - is calculated. Statisticians use an imaginary shopping basket of things we buy to check price changes and have done since 1947. How we shopped, what we bought, what we cooked and the fads that we still remember today are all revealed in this ultimate shopping list.

Food journalist Andrew Webb uses this list to chart the change from post-war austerity to the rise of frozen foods as he joins friends in their eighties for a lunch of that 1950s classic, corned beef and mashed potatoes. He examines the development of brands and food advertising in the 1970s and 80s with packaging historian Robert Opie, while food scientists explain what went into creating the modern chilled ready meal. And he finds out why 2015 sees us returning to small baskets and shopping to lists.

Along the way he remembers classics like Smash instant potato as well as lesser known food oddities like cheese on Weetabix.

Presenter: Andrew Webb

Producer: Lucy Proctor.