In Search of our Throwaway History

About the film

For the first time, the remarkable story of this most integral part of our daily lives is explored and explained. Consumer historian Robert Opie gives an insight into how and why branded products have changed the way we live. With 3,500 colourful items, over a hundred shared memory moments from the great British public, and a stream of amazing facts, Robert takes us on an emotional and evocative journey through all our childhoods, as well as those of our parents and grandparents.

Our vibrant consumer story is full of surprises. For example, many of us assume that the brands we know today only came out in our own lifetime. In reality though, a great many go back further than we think: Horlicks, Bovril, and Bird's custard arrived in Victorian times, while favourites like Kit Kats, Rolos, Smarties and Mars bars filled sweet shops in the 1930s.

It's an extraordinary story of how the consumer revolution has utterly changed the way we live. Not only have we built up a remarkable bond with an ever increasing variety of brands but we now totally rely upon them. The film takes us on a trail of discovery that explains why we're now surrounded by a cornucopia of individually packaged goods, how the concept of branding developed, and indeed, when slimming products, soap powders, instant foods and sweets all began to influence our lifestyle.

This is the moment to rekindle your love of Spangles, relive the excitement of pudding treats like Instant Whip and Angel Delight, the crunch of breakfast cereals like Puffa Puffa Rice or Sugar Smacks, the crispy wonder of Horror Bags, the cool taste of a Zoom lolly, the smell of Evening in Paris and Aquamanda, the whiteness of Rinso and Omo washing powders, the thrill of Fiendish Feet yoghurt or the simple satisfaction of a Lyons Individual Fruit Pie.

DVD Special Features

In addition, a companion DVD and an exclusive 16-page full colour booklet reveal the epic journey of discovery made by Robert Opie in assembling his vast collection of consumer culture, which led to the opening of the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising. It's a fascinating insight into how this giant jigsaw of packs, products and promotional material was puzzled together to make a meaningful picture of our throwaway history and heritage.

  • A Lifetime's Work: Robert Opie and the Museum of Brands
  • Assembling the Jigsaw
  • Shopping Basket Tour
  • Deleted Scene: wartime austerity
  • 'Take Me Back' - recording session
  • Trailer

Robert Opie and the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising.

The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising presents the collection of consumer historian, Robert Opie, who recognised the need to record the history of the products around us.

In the 1960s Robert Opie began to study the history of the consumer. Gathering examples of this throwaway society in the form of packs, posters and promotional material he had, by 1975, enough material to create his Pack Age exhibition held at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Then in 1984 he opened the Museum of Advertising and Packaging in Gloucester. "It's like piecing together a giant jigsaw - so many pieces, but how do they all fit together?" he ponders. In 2005 the museum moved to London.

The Museum tells the remarkable story of of over 150 years of British consumer society and how the consumer revolution has transformed the way we live, eat, wash and survive from day to day. It's a journey from Victorian times to the present day that reveals how brands have become entwined with our lives, and how manufacturers have continually improved their products to provide better, faster and easier solutions - all to make life more convenient than before.

As visitors progress through the Museum's time tunnel they soon find that it's more than just a story of progress. It is one of high emotion and nostalgia that is stored up since childhood, a bond between the brand and the buyer.

After fifty years of research, some twenty books, and assembling over half a million items, the culmination of his endeavours have been distilled into this DVD that captures thousands of images. Nostalgic and evocative, it is also the tale of triumphs in packaging technology and the creativity of advertising and graphic design, illustrations that reflect the social change in taste and tempo, culture and lifestyle. Indeed, it is a brand new way of looking at history.

In Search of Our Throwaway History - produced and directed by SIMON J FRITH presented by ROBERT OPIE written by ROBERT OPIE and JIM COGAN executive producer JAMES OXLEY-BRENNAN cinematography PETER CURTIS editing PETER CURTIS and ANGELA MAKEPEACE
original music DAVE COOKE and HEATHER SIMMONS

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