These retro school dinner foods will take you on a trip down memory lane


Do you have fond memories of your school dinners, or did they scar you for life so much that you’ve tried to erase them from your memory ever since?

We have to admit that they make us nostalgic whatever way though.

In the week that Bernard Matthews officially announced the #ComebackOfTheCentury in the return of cult-classic school dinner food – the Turkey Twizzler – we thought there is no better time to take a trip down memory lane and have a look back at what was put on our multi-coloured plastic divider trays at lunch time as kids.

Both the retro and the slightly more modern options – we’ll always remember our school dinners.

This list of course isn’t definitive of every school dinner at every primary and secondary school across Greater Manchester spanning multiple decades, so don’t get too enraged if we’ve missed off your favourite food from back in the day.

These are some of the classics though.


Turkey Twizzlers

Bernard Matthews

Could we really start this list with anything else?

Before they were ripped from the menu for being too unhealthy for kids by chef Jamie Oliver in 2005, and then manufacturing ceased all together a few years later, Turkey Twizzlers pretty much summed up school dinners.

No need to be sad anymore though – they’re back.



Literally anything drenched in beans.

Why is it that all school dinners, especially primary school dinners, came drenched in beans?

And when we say drenched, we don’t just mean on the side of your plate where you expect them to be, we mean drenched. Baked beans are a classic accompaniment to any meal here in the UK, but perhaps none more so than at school.

We’re not complaining though.


Cheese Whirls

That soggy cheesy/potato pastry combination will forever be ingrained in our minds.

If it wasn’t a cheese whirl served up at your school, then it was a slice of cheese pie, or perhaps some sort of cheese flan instead.

Whatever way, it was definitely soggy.


Pasta King

Pasta King

One for the 00s-10s secondary school/college students out there – Pasta King.

Despite the fact it was about 75% water at the bottom and it always left you questioning why it couldn’t have just been drained out first, Pasta King was still a top-tier edition to the lunch time menu.


Turkey Dinosaurs

If it wasn’t Turkey Twizzlers, then it was Turkey Dinosaurs.

They’re still made by manufacturers Bernard Matthews to this day, but probably don’t make their way onto school dinner plates quite as often. They never got quite as bad of a rep as Turkey Twizzlers, but maybe that’s because Jamie Oliver just didn’t want to force the turkey kind of dinosaurs into extinction after the real ones already had.

Shout out to the other classic school dinner foods of potato smiley faces, spaghetti hoops and chips in the picture too.


Crinkle-Cut Carrots

The carrots were always cut like this.

Why? Was it to make them look a little more exciting and appealing to kids? We’ve no idea.

The only thing we can guess at is that they’re probably bought cut like that in the packet, because we’ve never seen a carrot grow in that shape.


School Dinner Sponge

Need we say more?

There’s perhaps no other school dinner dessert that was so well-loved by all than the classic ‘School Dinner Sponge Cake’ with the icing and multi-coloured sprinkles, and even to this day, people all across the UK are trying their hands at recreating the recipe at home.


Angel Delight

AKA pink custard

It was commonly known by kids as the ‘pink custard’, but is that really what it was? According to the Angel Delight packaging, it’s just described as a “dessert”, which really doesn’t give much away at all.

Not that it matters though – Angel Delight was a welcomed addition to any school dinner menu.

There are also multiple other flavours in the Angel Delight range, including chocolate, banana and butterscotch, but strawberry seemed to be the winner with lunch staff in schools and for that reason, it will always be known as ‘pink custard’.


Arctic Roll

Arctic Roll / Birds Eye

You knew it was a good day when Arctic Roll was on the menu.

We’re not really sure why it was such a taste combination revelation because in theory, it really shouldn’t work should it? And yes, nine times out of ten the cake was really dry, but we loved it anyway.

If ice cream and cake is an acceptable choice, then why not just stick the ice cream in the cake?


Choc Ices

Choc Ices – who can forget that paper-thin blue and white striped packet?

In contradiction to the excitement you felt when Arctic Roll was on the menu, Choc Ices always just seemed to be a bit of a let down, didn’t they? Like a cop-out dessert chosen at the last minute, but looking back now though, we probably gave them a bit of a hard time.

A Choc Ice would go down quite well right about now.

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