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 Post subject: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2018, 17:28 
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Its a standard feature of most boarding school stories, but I don't think we ever see anyone bringing a tuck-box at the CS. Does the tradition exist outside of England? To begin with most girls were from other countries, and might not have been familiar with that particular english tradition. Or maybe it is because "...the food we have is so good we never really want anything else," as someone says to Joyce when she proposes the midnight feast. Perhaps it would be seen as being greedy to turn up with a box of cakes and jam etc?

In England there are occasional references to Matron keeping tuck in a cupboard and doling out limited quantites on request, or girls bringing their own pots of jam to tea, but we never know where any of that comes from. Sugar rationing during the War would have meant that was much more limited anyway.

In Switzerland it is a similar picture. Girls are sometimes shown as having a private food supply, but there is never any reference to how they bring it or under want conditions it is stored. Occasionally someone smuggles in a box of chocolates at the beginning of term, or is sent something as a treat, but there doesn't seem to be any formal system.

Somehow I find it hard to imagine dainty CS girls having tuck boxes - but I also don't think they would risk having pots of jam break inside their trunks. And if the English girls did bring one, would the continental girls have been familair with the concept?

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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2018, 18:08 
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One of Jack Lambert's gang brought in some cakes and chocolate - and, of course, the girls all got ill after eating it!

She seems to have had a horror of illicit eating :lol: . Any time there's a midnight feast, at least one person's horrendously ill afterwards. It wouldn't have been that practical to have carried or posted a load of food halfway across Europe, but they must have had access to shops and been able to buy food there, but they don't seem to be allowed to eat anything unregulated. The image of the Dawbarn twins going to ask for a bar of their own chocolate, when they're about 15, is very odd.

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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2018, 18:15 
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Rather surprisingly (to me, anyway) from Edwardian times, the Army & Navy Stores in London had a range of tuck boxes that could be bought by mail-order, so would be available to anyone who could afford them - but of course, most people had at least some home-made elements to their tuck. The most expensive Army & Navy one cost £1 (which would be more like £25 today) in about 1905 and contained half a cooked ham, a tin of ox tongue, a large cake, a tin of mixed biscuits, a tin of ginger nuts, a jar of potted meat, three pots of jam, a piece of ginger bread, a box of chocolates and two tins of sardines. I always think the sardines sit slightly oddly alongside the rest, but I suppose they would at least have a long shelf life...


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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2018, 18:35 
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They do sometimes bring out boxes of chocolate and fudge to share amongst everyone; and Joey and the head offer up indulgences from time to time. I think it's probably because they'll have heard of the past midnight feasts, where people got sick, so don't think about having one. They probably eat enough food anyway not to bother about extras in the Swiss books.

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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2018, 19:30 
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I was a day girl at a school which was mixed - day girls and boarders. The boarders certainly had midnight feasts but it was the excitement of being out of their beds and, usually, on the roof, at midnight rather than the food that was the focus. Day girls were often asked to smuggle in tins of cider and packets of cigarettes - what would EBD have thought!! Can't remember anyone being caught. I am pretty sure that our Headmistress would not have left the culprits unpunished except for a good talking-to however much they wept!


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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 08 Nov 2018, 20:57 
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I think some of the mentions of bringing own jam were in the wartime books, when it would have been necessary.

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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2018, 01:10 
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There are about twenty editorial instances of them bringing their own food to school. As for Continental girls, well it's a Dutch girl who brings in a box of chocolates that makes Gretchen Von Ahlen ill - or am I missing something and you think they don't have jam in Europe?


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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2018, 10:13 
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My comment on jam was based on my memory of the wartime books - the ones set in England & Wales...

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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2018, 10:17 
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The boarders at my school had a midnight feast on the last night of term and would ask day girls to bring in food.

At Guide camp, we always had a midnight feast one night. It was sweets and biscuits but nobody was ill. The leaders knew about it but left us to it.


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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2018, 10:19 
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I assume Miriam just meant that the idea of tuck boxes is one that's associated with British boarding school stories. Enid Blyton's obsessed with them and I've sometimes wondered if they really were that big a deal in real life, so it's interesting to hear that you could actually order them ready-packed from a shop!

I don't remember them featuring that much outside Enid Blyton books. She uses them to facilitate a lot of plots about midnight feasts, which usually involve an unpopular girl being left out, or someone sneaking on the feasters. EBD, for whatever reason, seems to see private feasts as greedy. I don't know whether it was because she liked to praise the school food and didn't want to suggest that the girls didn't get enough cake etc as it was, or whether it was the Edwardian nanny idea about too much sweet food being bad for children.

Having said which, they're always eating cake when they're out with parents or mistresses, and people always seem to have huge slabs of chocolate in their pockets when they're caught in a storm or an avalanche! Maybe she just never thought of there being a formal system. Her early books predate Malory Towers etc, and she hadn't been to boarding school herself.

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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2018, 14:32 
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I agree there are mixed messages about food in the CS. Too much chocolate is frowned on until they are snowbound - then it makes a nourishing drink. Sweets are OK if they are home-made for the Sale but have to be doled out daily in school - and Jo allows the twins to have small bags of sweets at the Panto. The girls can stuff themselves on carbs and sugar daily or on trips and at parties, but after hours can make you seriously ill. I don't think EBD liked the girls to act independently. Fun has to be controlled and supervised by staff or prefects.


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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2018, 16:04 
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At my boarding school in the 1950s we didn't have tuck boxes as such but I suppose you could say we had "tuck".

We brought our own sweets with us (and bear in mind sweets were still on ration during my first year at school) and whilst one was in the Junior Study (11-12) matron kept them in a locked cupboard in her room and we were allowed to go for 6 sweets a day, after lunch (4 Rowntree fruit gums = 1 sweet, 6 Smarties=1 sweet). On Saturdays we could have 8, on Sundays 12, but in two sets of six, one after lunch, one after tea.

Middle Study (13-15) the cupboard was in the room with us, locked, and opened for 15 mins after lunch.

Senior Study had free access to sweets at all times, and tea on Sundays with "own food" ie cakes and biscuits, jams and spreads. Prefects had sweets and own food at all times.

Many people also had fresh fruit delivered weekly from shops in the town and we were allowed to eat this at teatime. But by no means all of us could enjoy this privilege since it was fairly expensive to have it.

All fairly complicated though - you can see why GO authors just talk about tuck boxes!

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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2018, 19:23 
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That's fascinating Cestina and has transported me! I also love how you remember all the specific details :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2018, 19:50 
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Lisa wrote:
That's fascinating Cestina and has transported me! I also love how you remember all the specific details :wink:

Clearly deeply engrained on my soul Lisa!

I think may have told this tale before but when I was a prefect my mother (Czech) interpreted the "own food" in her own very special way by presenting the prefects' study with a whole long liver sausage which we hung out of the window and sliced bits off at will.

Some 30 years later I visited my old school house with my daughter and we were shown round by one of the staff. We discussed traditions and she said there was one that had long puzzled them. The prefects, she said, had until very recently, always had a liver sausage as part of their food stores..... :D

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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2018, 21:57 
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cestina wrote:
Lisa wrote:
That's fascinating Cestina and has transported me! I also love how you remember all the specific details :wink:

Clearly deeply engrained on my soul Lisa!

I think may have told this tale before but when I was a prefect my mother (Czech) interpreted the "own food" in her own very special way by presenting the prefects' study with a whole long liver sausage which we hung out of the window and sliced bits off at will.

Some 30 years later I visited my old school house with my daughter and we were shown round by one of the staff. We discussed traditions and she said there was one that had long puzzled them. The prefects, she said, had until very recently, always had a liver sausage as part of their food stores..... :D


I love that story :lol: . Did you ever tell the staff how that started?

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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2018, 22:04 
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Yes I told her, she could hardly believe that the person responsible had turned up so many years later to solve the mystery!

And I was fascinated by how a tradition can unknowingly be created....

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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 09 Nov 2018, 22:10 
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That's a brilliant story which should go in a book!

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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 10 Nov 2018, 05:31 
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There's a mention of chocolate in The New Chalet School when a bus is stranded on the trip back from Salzburg. The mistresses collect up the stick and block chocolate to make a hot drink:
Quote:
Elizabeth and Betty contributed about two kilos between them ...
(GGBP, p. 234)

That's a LOT of chocolate! Did EBD not understand the metric system?


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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 10 Nov 2018, 08:56 
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:lol: :lol: - about 50 average-sized chocolate bars each, if I've worked that out right! There's somewhere else where the girls are weighing about bags of sweets for the Sale, and another scene in which Matron's making jam, and the quantities are just enormous. I don't think weights and measures were EBD's strong point. Or maybe Elizabeth and Betty were just very greedy!

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 Post subject: Re: Tuck boxes - or lack of
PostPosted: 10 Nov 2018, 09:28 
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I don't think EBD knew anything the metric system and indeed why should she have?

We began to go metric in the UK in the mid sixties and yet I am still surrounded by people who look at me blankly if I say I have lost 12kg or processed 10kg of plums into jam and chutney....

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