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Bernard Matthews 1930-2010

Posted by Big Boo on November 29th, 2010

Bernard MatthewsBernard Matthews, the turkey farmer who was seemingly never off our TV screens in the 80s (on the adverts anyway) has passed away. He died on November 25th 2010, aged 80, which if he had been an American would have been a very ironic date to die, given that it was the date for Thanksgiving Day this year.

Appearing in most of the television adverts for his company during the Eighties, Bernard Matthews was a bit of icon for the decade, appearing normally in a tweed jacket and always uttering his much repeated catchphrase, Bootiful. He has been credited with making turkey a more affordable meat for the average family, both in terms of whole frozen turkeys and in processed forms such as Turkey Burgers, Drummers and the dreaded (by Jamie Oliver at least) Turkey Twizzler.

The seeds of his turkey empire were sown back in the late 1940s, when he bought an incubator and some turkey eggs and set about trying to start a turkey farm in his mother-in-laws garden. Ultimately this failed, but in 1950 he tried again in his spare time, whilst working as an insurance clerk. This time things went better, and he soon bought the run down Great Witchingham Hall, and used most of the rooms of the great house to raise (and slaughter) the turkeys!

Whilst Bernard may not have appeared in his companies TV adverts for many years now, somehow you still expect to turn on the TV and see him grinning back at you. One thing is for sure though, I think it’s unlikely that the word “Bootiful” will be getting removed from the packaging for some time to come.