Do you remember the good old days when you went to the fish and chip shop and came out clutching a little parcel wrapped in newspaper? Â Today this is a dying practice, with only a handful of shops remaining that serve one of UK’s finest dishes wrapped the way it should be, instead of being in white paper, white paper printed to look like newspaper (why bother) or most heinous of all, a polystyrene tray.
I’m not sure exactly when the tradition of using newspaper to wrap your chips was phased out, but certainly by the end of the 1980’s you’d be hard pressed to find a chippie serving in this manner. Â So why did the practice stop?
Well, as usual it was a Health and Safety concern. Â Despite the fact nobody has ever died of fish-and-chip-paper-poisoning, at least not as far as I’m aware of, it was deemed unsafe in case the ink used for the newsprint came off on the food. Â I dare say that in order for this to be a problem you would have to eat fish and chips for breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper every day for every year of your life, and by then you’d die from your blood having slowly turned into a mixture of cooking oil and batter.
What makes this concern even more ridiculous is that the food was generally never placed directly against the newspaper anyway. Â Normally the fish was placed onto a small sheet of greaseproof paper, and the chips placed in a white paper bag similar to those used for penny sweets. Â This was then wrapped in the newspaper, so hardly any of the food was actually in contact.
If you’re very lucky today you might get your chips served wrapped first in a sheet of white paper, then in newspaper, which is cheating a little, but at least it looks authentic when you leave the shop I suppose. Â In these days of recycling you’d think that using newspaper would be a good thing, especially since used newspapers were never used, although I concede that these days unsold newspaper probably are recycled already.
Sadly no chippie in my area uses newspaper these days, but I’d love to know if you’re local fish and chip eaterie still does. Â If they do, please add a comment below!