What ‘fast food’ was there in Victorian England?

Quickly grabbing cheap food from market stalls and street-barrows had long been a staple of the working-class diet.

Fast-food_0-00a61c3

But by the 19th century, customers were being treated to an array of new flavours. Thanks to changing tastes, taxes, and competition from larger shops, by the 1850s vendors of hot pies, eels and roast apples were being gradually replaced by coffee stalls and ice-cream barrows.

Advertisement

Hot baked potatoes and pineapple slices also became more popular, although traditional foods didn’t disappear altogether.

Advertisement

In 1870, an American reporter described the wares on sale at a London market: “ham sandwiches, at a penny apiece, and boiled potatoes, with sheeps’ trotters, oysters, fried fish, oranges, apples, plums, and, in fact, every kind of fruit and vegetable were for sale” – as well as “a very suspicious veal”.

Answered by one of our Q&A experts, Emily Brand.