Monday 12 February 2024

Who drank what in 1970

In 1969, United Glass Ltd. commissioned our old friends at Mass Observation to investigate drinking habits in the UK. The results are, as you would expect, fascinating.

"It was found that on average, a consumer drinks between 2 and 3 types of drink per day. The highest duplication occurs on Friday and Saturday and the lowest on Monday and Tuesday. Also the under 25’s and the AB social class consume a greater variety of drinks than other informants."
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 99, March 1970, page 87.

I think what they're saying there is that people went out drinking more at the weekend than at the start of the week. Now there's a surprise. And the young and the wealthy drank more different drinks than the average. Not much of a shock, either.

"U.G. say that men drink an average of 79 fl. oz. per day compared to the 59 fl. oz. consumed by women. The difference is least marked at the beginning of the week but the gap widens considerably towards the week-end when the consumption of beer amongst males rapidly increases. Conversely, women do tend to drink less at weekends it was found. Further details of the survey are available on application to the market research manager, United Glass Ltd."
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 99, March 1970, page 87.

Again, nothing really shocking. Men drank more than women and drank more beer at the weekend. I think I could have guessed that.

What did surprise me is the difference in beer drinking between men and women - 36% of men but just 7% of women. That's a huge difference. I wonder what the numbers would be now? My guess would be that the overall average would be something similar to 21%, but that the split between men and women would be more even.

One big change from today would be regards to tea. I'm sure the percentage of people making tea with teabags would be much higher than 5%.

I'm shocked to see only 10% of people drank water. Barely more than the 9% who drank hot chocolate. 

Type of drink X proportion drinking
  Total Sex Age Social Class
    Male Female 16-24 25-34 35-44 45-64 AB C1 C2 DE
All Respondents 2107 1052 1055 421 378 423 885 253 415 806 633
  % % % % % % % % % % %
Tea 90 91 89 84 87 90 94 89 87 91 91
Instant Coffee  57 51 62 64 68 57 48 71 61 58 46
Beer  21 36 7 27 24 18 19 26 20 12 21
MiIk 13 11 15 22 13 8 11 16 16 11 13
Water  10 9 11 13 10 8 10 13 12 9 10
Hot Chocolate  9 7 11 12 12 8 8 11 11 9 8
Squash  9 7 10 15 12 5 6 10 8 9 7
Milk Drinks  7 6 9 4 8 7 9 8 10 6 7
Ground Coffee  7 7 7 6 8 5 9 15 13 6 2
Spirits and Fortified Wine  7 6 7 5 8 5 8 19 9 5 3
Tea made with tea-bags  5 4 5 6 5 5 4 9 5 4 3
Others  21 17 22 29 19 18 17 27 25 21 15
Duplication 156 152 155 187 174 134 143 214 177 150 126
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 99, March 1970, page 87.


Matt said...

I didn't realise that Mass Observation was still going in the early seventies. The book they produced about pubs in Bolton in the late thirties is a fascinating read, I can't think of another that goes into such forensic detail on the subject. I especially like the bit in it about the local bloke they hired to survey some for them who managed to get round more than twenty in a single evening and admits that despite drinking halves his notes became somewhat fragmented towards the end!

Anonymous said...

As Richard Wattis said to Liberace when asked to get him a glass of water. "Sir , water is what we bath in here "

Chris Pickles said...

I presume the 'water' in the listing is tap water. Unlike nowadays, I don't think anyone was paying good money for what is basically plain water in a bottle.

But 10% would be about right. I don't think I ever saw my mum or dad drinking water, they would always drink tea. Or tee-a as my mother's relatives in Cleckheaton would pronounce it. My dad would occasionally drink bottles of beer, usually Shire Light from Whitakers of Halifax, which he would send me to the off licence for. ( I was about 10 at the time). Tea was everywhere, if you went to Blackpool there were mobile huts on the beach selling pots of tea, and they did a roaring trade.

Us kids would do all the drinking of water that was done, if we asked for a drink of pop, the answer would usually be "there's plenty o' watter in't tap".

Anonymous said...

The differences in coffee drinking habits across different social classes also striking. I'm amazed 2% of DE's were drinking ground coffee in 1970 - don't think I even saw real ground coffee until the 1980's. Funny that instant coffee was also consumed more by AB's - was that even thought of as posh?

Rob Sterowski said...

When I was growing up in the 70s nobody drank water. Milk or fizzy pop for kids. Endless oceans of tea for adults.

I am not sure the sex balance has shifted as much as you imagine. Britain still has a huge amount of cultural baggage that says “women don’t drink beer”. It is more extreme than in Germany or the Netherlands.

A Brew Rat said...

The statistic that amazed me the most was 57% drinking instant coffee. Instant coffee is so wretched.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting there's no separate category for regular wine. I wonder when surveys would consider it widespread enough to be worth tracking.

Rob Sterowski said...

I'm surprised as many as 57% were drinking coffee at all.

Up until the mid-80s only extremely middle-class people drank brewed coffee rather than instant. This changed with the arrival of the now ubiquitous coffee chains.

As well as wine, carbonated soft drinks are an interesting omission.

Anonymous said...

2% of social class DE were drinking ground coffee Rob - or misunderstanding the question ('you mean granules?')...

Anonymous said...

Was just as bad as here in Ireland when Nell McCafferty in the early 1970’s went into a pub with some mates and ordered spirits which were promptly served then she and her friends tried to get pints of porter/stout and were refused what a bizarre way of thinking. Spirits ok but session strength beer not ok.

Rob Sterowski said...

I don't think granules were around in 1970, were they? Instant coffee was a powder then, wasn't it?

Bribie G said...

In the 1970s in the civil service we drank coffee, and had a "coffee club" and bought a percolator. We were just the lower clerk ranks. Dad was a police sergeant and they drank a lot of strong ground coffee at the station, just the job to keep them awake on the night shift and go out and do a good bit of collar feeling!

Rob Sterowski said...

Further research shows that freeze-dried granules were introduced in the US in 1965. But I don't know when they made it to Britain.