When Fish and Chips Were Wrapped in Newspaper.

Is it just my imagination or did fish and chips taste better when they were wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper?

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, probably sometime back in the 70s, but the ‘fish and chippery ‘ dispensed with the age old tradition of the newspaper wrapping and went with the cleaner look of white butcher’s paper and then eventually to fancy boxes.

Friday night was always fish and chips night at our place. It was such a rare treat to have takeaway back then, but Mum, having cooked all week, had that one night off. Dad would arrive home on his bike with the steaming hot package in his kit bag, remove the newspaper wrapping (at least three or four pages thick), and then the sheets of greaseproof paper (to keep the grease in, of course) and reveal the golden contents of half a dozen large pieces of fish and a big pile of chunky chips, all deep fried in fat and liberally sprinkled with salt and vinegar. Even today that aroma of hot fish and chips with salt and vinegar sets my senses harking back to those years gone by.

All the years growing up as a kid, I can only ever remember the take away treat being wrapped in newspaper. In fact there was an old saying around those times….”Todays headlines, tomorrow’s fish and chips wrappings”.

Photo from Andrew Heslop. Seppelts Wine Vinegar was once on the counter at every fish and chip shop in town.

Andrew Heslop – Commentator, MC and Community Advocate, writing recently on the Australia Remember When Facebook page shared a photo and a memory of also growing up in Adelaide; “Seppelts Wine Vinegar was once on the counter at every fish and chip shop in town. The distinctive bottle provided a thin stream of vinegar through a tiny hole in the blue top, right on to your steaming fish and chips. With the advent of multinational fast food chains the shops – many owned by hard working first generation migrants – have slowly closed down. My favourite is still open – Sotos on Semaphore Road down near the beach. Many happy memories of being there with my grandparents during summer and taking our meal across to the (now closed) sideshows and summer carnival. Happy days”!

Many readers to the page commented with memories of their own favourite fish and chips shop, many, as Andrew pointed out owned and run by hard working, first generation migrant families. Others wrote in with recollections of “me rapidly tearing 2 holes in the top of the parcel….a little one to let the heat out so the chips wouldn’t go soggy and a larger hole to grab a chip through”.

Indeed Diana Field recalled exactly that story; “When I lived in the city as a youngster, we would buy a parcel of newspaper-wrapped chips, tear a hole in the end and eat them while walking home”.

Dorina Fanning told the story about the man who ran the fish and chip shop in her neighbourhood years ago; “He had passed away recently and one of the mourners, came up to a family member and said “I didn’t know him very well, but I just wanted to let you know that he made the best chips. Nice to be remembered!”

On a similar note, Susan J Clohesy wrote; “When I was a kid we had an old guy named Nick who had a fish and chip shop a few doors down from us. Always gave us more than we paid for. When his shop burnt down, he sat in the gutter and cried and we kids sat down and cried with him”.

Marion Croser pointed out: “Up until Vatican II in 1965 and 1966 nearly every Aussie family, whether Catholic or not, ate fish on Fridays. When this was removed by the Vatican there were disastrous consequences — within  10 years nearly 60 per cent of fish and chip shops across Australia no longer existed. Then the fast foods arrived and as they say, the rest is history. Nothing like a good old fish and chip shop.”

Today, as Marion says, with the ‘fast food’ chains opening on almost every second corner, the humble fish and chip shops are becoming thin on the ground, fortunately though a few good ones have survived. I still love to tuck into a meal of take away fish and chips with lots of salt and vinegar. I’m sure I’d love it even more though if they were still wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper!


  1. Have exactly all these great memories. Our fish and chips were always wrapped in newspaper and yes the only way to eat them was through the whole torn at the top and I loved soggy chips..lol

  2. Same here. Walking home from “The Pictures” and buying some fish &chips to eat on the way. Wrapped in newspaper of course. They don’t taste the same these days & cost a fortune!

  3. This was a great read and brought back school day memories of buying 3d of chips wrapped in newsprint on the way home from school. My brother and I ate them on our half mile walk home and still had plenty for Mum when we got there. Great days

  4. I used to go to the “shops” on Friday afternoon, get some groceries & then get the fish & chips & catch the bus home. My foster mother didn’t drive so it was up to me to get those things on a Friday. Good times & very sad ones as well as my childhood was a very abusive one but there were great times also.

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