1970 - 1990

By the early 1970s, home freezers were becoming cheaper and more easily available so in 1972 we introduced frozen food including lasagnes and pizzas.

By 1973 convenience food was being sold in 100 Marks & Spencer stores and was a huge hit with the public, later helping to explain the popularity of the microwave. With each meal, our Catering Department decided on a recipe idea and then worked with our suppliers to make it.

Also in 1973, we were the first major retailer to introduce sell-by dates as a guarantee of freshness. A year later Indian and Chinese ready meals were first trialled, although they didn’t really take off until the 1980s. Marks & Spencer was the first major retailer to provide these dishes, which are now a big part of our national cuisine.

lamb-curry_-jan-1985 (ID 1394)

From the mid-1970s suppliers slowly became more involved in design. Marks & Spencer now gave guidelines on up-to-the-minute trends, and Design Briefs were introduced in 1986. Brian Godbold, Head of Design, described the brief as a buyers ‘bible’. Lingerie became more fashionable in the 1980s and even thermals were given a fashion ‘edge’. Co-ordinated underwear sets created ‘looks’ inspired by catwalk trends.

striped-mens-pants-72 (ID 1395)
Microwave Cooking by Jenny Webb was donated by Mrs Gladys Smith, who bought it in 1983

This is a pair of boy’s cotton BMX pyjamas, age 5-6. BMX bikes were a must-have on Christmas present lists in the late 1980s for most children.

In 1979 Marks and Spencer became the first high street retailer in Britian to sell the Chicken Kiev.

Men’s suits have been the focus of much product development, with the first machine washable suit being introduced by M&S in 1987.

This leisure jump suit is nightwear. It dates from 1978 and is made from brushed nylon, a popular fabric for nightwear in the 1970s.

Watch M&S adverts from the 1970s.


Add your comment...

Louise O'Neil, Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Wednesday 14 June
In the mid-late 1980s M&S used to sell Syrup Sponge dessert in an individual pot with syrup in the bottom, then sponge, then custard (and maybe cream on top, I can't remember). It was absolutely delicious and I've never seen it anywhere else since. It was a perfect end to my packed lunch!! It would be wonderful to experience it again!!
Julia Salter, Cardiff
Tuesday 5 March
My family used to love you spicy chicken pizzas. They were discontinued due to falling sales. I cannot understand this as I had to queue in your Cardiff store when you were expecting a delivery. What happened?
Hazel Scoot, Milton Keynes
Thursday 7 November
I still have my microwave cookbook, it is a bit "splattered" on the lamb and beef pages! I still refer to it often having written additions to some of the recipes.
Pablo, Liverpool
Sunday 21 June
Marksies used to do the best Corned beef hash but it disappeared off the shelves a few years ago? Also i used to love their mince beef and onion pasties, The newer ones just aren't the same, They're bland and pale in comparison
Aileen Leslie, East Ham, London
Wednesday 7 October
I am trying to find out the year that M & S closed its store in Upton Park (Green Street) London E13...Could someone help me with that info please?
The Archive Team, Leeds
Wednesday 14 October
Hi Aileen, the Upton Park store closed on the 31st January 1981.
Carrie, London
Friday 23 October
M&S used to sell packs of small round chocolate biscuits that were so crunchy (similar to the texture of biscuits used in Fox’s crunch creams). They were so much nicer than the usual Choc Digestive or Hobnobs that you get now. Would love for you to bring them back!
Gae, Wolverhampton
Sunday 29 November
To Carrie, London, I remember those little round chocolate biscuits they were delicious, wish they’d bring them back!
Gaynor, London
Monday 30 November
M&S do still sell the syrup sponge pudding
Adele Aburrow, Chichester
Saturday 12 December
Looking for a turkey and broccoli recipe from the 80's
The Archive Team, Leeds
Tuesday 15 December
Hi Adele, we'd like to help you track down your recipe. Please could you email us at companyarchive@marksandspencer.com with as much detail as possible and we will see what we can do! Many thanks, The Archive Team
Angela , Leeds
Sunday 17 January
Me n grandma went to Marks n Sparks every Saturday 8.10 bus to Leeds from Rothwell we loved it. Gran passed this year at 92, when we ate Saturday lunch it was lasagne in a tin and a choux bun in the 1980s but they don't sell them like they were! Miss the original ones
Maria-José da Silva Calhota, Zürich
Tuesday 23 February
ich war Au-Pair bei Mrs Mikel, Chefin von Marks and Spencer, 1970 - 1974, wer weiss mehr von dieser Zeit?
Archive Team, Leeds
Wednesday 24 February
Vielen dank für ihre e-mail. Ich bedauere dass wir in der Archivsammlung keine informationen über Frau Mikel haben. Mit besten empfehlungen,the Archive team
karen, dorchester
Saturday 3 April
I remember your lemon and raisin cheesecake wedge from the 70's, on a thin sponge base with a solid deep top of claggy cheecake interspersed by the occasional raisin. Any chance you could provide the recipe? or better still bring it back on the shelves, lots of people remember and miss it, there is nothing to compete with it today, sure it would be a highly profitable line.
Carol, Thurrock
Friday 7 May
What happened to the delicious deep filled minced beef pie oval in shape with superb pastry think it was puff pastry?
sarah, London
Friday 1 October
I remember the deep pan pizza pie, the beautiful fish pies we still buy now, pork pies' dont think I have ever had a bad thing from M&S
Janet Cresswell, Cardiff
Thursday 28 October
It was the first pizza i'd ever tasted, there was minced beef and possibly basil, can you please give some information, i loved it.
Bev , Berkshire
Sunday 31 October
I really miss the chicken and smoked ham sandwiches from the 80’s. Never found another to match them
Archive Team, Leeds
Monday 1 November
Hi Janet, Lovely to hear about your memories of our pizza! You can try searching the online catalogue for more information, or email us at company.archive@mands.com and we'll see what we can find out. Best wishes, the Archive team.
M Saunders, West Sussex
Thursday 18 November
Please bring back Lemon and Raisin cheesecake -
Zak, Durham
Tuesday 7 December
Yes!! Bring back the small round chocolate, crunchy biscuits that I still remember from my 1970s childhood
Karen, Colorado
Saturday 11 December
I loved your Minced Beef Pizza, a Saturday night go to with my bestie before a night on the town. I have emailed requesting the long lost receipe of 40 ish years ago.
Archive Team, Leeds
Wednesday 15 December
Hi Karen, please do send us an email about the minced beef pizza and we'll see what we can find. Best wishes, the Archive team.
Jackie , Liverpool
Monday 27 December
Just talking to my grandchildren about food I used to buy them aprox 1995 to2010 one of the items were small sausages but non of us can remember what they were called we think it was something like porkies or or piggies Please can anyone remember it’s driving us all mad
Juliet Condon,
Monday 27 December
In the Fish for the Family recipe book by Mary Morris I think I remember a recipe for a hot prawn dish that I think was called Prawn Jambalaya. My family loved it. Unfortunately I gave my copy to a charity shop but would love to find the recipe again. If you can help me I would be most grateful. Juliet
Archive Team, Leeds
Wednesday 29 December
Hi Juliet, we'd be happy to help! We will have a look and get back to you via email. Best wishes, the Archive team.
Archive Team, Leeds
Wednesday 29 December
Hi Jackie, We haven't been able to find any small sausages that match your description. We did have a children's food range from 1998 called Bobo's Gang which had a sausage product if that helps at all? Please do email us at company.archive@mands.com if you remember any more details or have any other questions. Best wishes, the Archive team.
Rhoda, Bromley
Friday 21 January
On our days out I would take a picnic which included MandS sausage and tomato rolls and mini Cornish pasty’s , my daughters still talk about the lovely picnics we had .
Mags slater, Leeds
Wednesday 27 April
In the 80s marks used to sell a minced beef roll made with suet pastry - it was delicious, when did you stop selling it.
Archive Team, Leeds
Tuesday 3 May
Hi Mags, we did find a mention of the minced beef roll from 1981, we don't have a date for when it was discontinued though. Thanks for sharing your food memory! Best wishes The Archive team.
Catherine Green , Leeds, West Yorkshire
Wednesday 3 August
Hi, does anyone remember a frozen meal, I think it was called seafood pasta. It was frozen and you had to cook it in the oven. It was in an oblong tray, there was enough to serve 2. It was lovely, there were prawns, mushrooms, pasta, bits of smoked haddock I think. I'm sure it has a pototo topping. It was gorgeous. I used to have it with plain white rice. Does anyone know if they still manufacture it please? I haven't seen any for years. Maybe it's well overdue bringing it back?
Archive Team, Leeds
Wednesday 10 August
Hi Catherine, we've had a look but unfortunately we can't find a product in the archive that fits your mouth-watering description. You could try browsing the online catalogue for any similar products. Best wishes, the Archive team
Julie beckett, Salford
Saturday 3 September
Loved them little round chocolate biscuits my mum used to let me have a full packet every friday night what were they called
Julie, Edinburgh
Thursday 15 September
In the early 90's M&S cheese and celery sandwiches tasted so much nicer than nowadays. At the time the taste changed (approx early 2000's I think), the colour of the cheese also changed from orange to white. I absolutely loved the old ones and used to buy 10 packs at a time and eat nothing else for a couple of days! What was the 'magic' ingredient in the old style ones?
Archive Team, Leeds
Tuesday 20 September
Hi Julie, Thanks for getting in touch. We don't hold ingredient information for the cheese and celery sandwich unfortunately, so we can't help to solve the mystery of the magic ingredient! Best wishes, the Archive team.