Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Camping out" with the Queen of Sheba

While looking through all the 1928 editions of the Sunday Express as part of a current research project, the fascinating advert you see below caught my eye. (Click for a larger view.)

(From the Sunday Express, 30 December 1928, p. 14)

Perhaps, were she still alive, my mother would be able to reminisce fondly about Camp Coffee, as it appears to be a product with some serious nostalgia value in Britain. (Though it has more recently been subject to some controversy. A case of "political correctness gone mad," no doubt.)

In any case, the text for the above ad reads:

Charades or Forfeits, Blind Man's Bluff or Queen of Sheba (you out to try that, at your next party!)--whatever the game may be, "Camp" is the Coffee your guests will appreciate afterwards.

More and more hostesses are serving "Camp" nowadays, because it is always such good coffee--and so easy to make, without leaving the jolly crowd for more than a moment.

At Dances, too, "Camping out" has quite taken the place of "sitting out." There is no refreshment more really refreshing than a cup of "Camp" Coffee.

"Camp" is made by experts, from coffee beans of the finest quality. You have only to add hot water and it's ready to enjoy.

Be sure to order a bottle of "Camp" Coffee in time for your New Year festivities.

But even more interesting than that--and more than a little baffling--is the description of the game "Queen of Sheba."

How to play "Queen of Sheba"

Every guest except the veiled "Queen" and her attendants goes out of the room. Each then returns, to kneel with uplifted hands on the rug before the Queen, and to ask her three questions, to which she must answer Yes or No. At the third question, the man at the end gives the rug a sudden pull--and then the fun begins!

Does it!? Why!?

What happened at these parties?

I mean, the image depicts a bunch of costumed party-goers of both sexes hopped up on coffee, so I suppose any kind of total madness is possible.

I'd be interested in your experiences.


Chris Brooke said...

We usually had a bottle of Camp at home in the 1980s when I was small. Mixed with cold milk, it made a nice sort-of iced coffee drink for children. But, my goodness, I haven't thought about it for twenty years or more.

J. Carter Wood said...

I was curious about that reference to 'a bottle of' coffee. So it came in liquid form, did it?

Sounds nice....

The Wife said...

It's no worse than cheese in a tube, Yankee-boy!

J. Carter Wood said...

Nothing is better than cheese in a tube, krauty girl...

Mmmmm. Cheez-whiz.

Geoff Coupe said...

Aah - Camp Coffee. An opportunity to remember Major General Sir Hector Macdonald, scourge of Afghans, Boers and the Dervishes of Sudan. Gawd love him.

mikeovswinton said...

You do all realise that Camp "coffee" was actually - if my memory serves me right - made from Chicory? They used to use it to make the coffee at Bolton Wanderers matches in the mid 60's. I presume that the liquid form it came in helped to make the process easier. I don't know - Camp Coffee on a saturday afternoon. Small boys in the park playing soccer, jumpers for goal posts. Abiding images of the british winter. As Ron Manager said on the Fast Show. (Use Youtube if you don't understand.)

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mikevonswinton said...

Mea Culpa. The might and glory that is Wikipedia tells me Camp was(is?) 24% Chicory and a whopping 4% real coffee. They are right - it was/is good for coffee cake. My mother used to make coffee cake with it. We'd eat it on saturday afternoons in winter, having a break from playing football with jumpers for goalposts. An abiding taste of the British winter.

J. Carter Wood said...

I was going to cite that Wikipedia confirmation of the presence of at least some actual coffee in'coffee', but you beat me to it.

(Remember, it's 'made by experts, from coffee beans of the finest quality' no less.)

I played a fair amount of football with jumpers as goalposts when visiting the homeland as a child, so I know the kind of image you're conjuring up.

Ah. Good times.

The Wife said...

"Camp was(is?) 24% Chicory and a whopping 4% real coffee".

This reminds me of an anecdote that my mother likes to recount about my great-grandmother. In the mid- to late 1960s coffee was still a luxury in Germany and people would mix chicory and the real thing - the latter in ridiculously small quantities. So when my mother would visit her granny for coffee, Gustl (that was her granny's name) would announce the number of coffee beans she had used to spike the chicory. Like: "I've added six whole beans."

It's a true story, that. Six frigging coffee beans for a decent cuppa on a Sunday afternoon.

So don't begrudge us our Wirtschaftswunder. There was plenty of poverty where my family came from.

Chicory, incidentally, is still sold - and I guess bought - in Germany.

mikeof swinton said...

It surely is. I had a rather nice starter of grilled Chicory and grilled carrots at a very good Italian restuarant in Cologne a couple of years back. That's how you should have Chicory - in Germany, Italy or Britian. Not in coffee. Though, Camp was easy to make up when I was in the Scouts. On camp. Ha ha. I have this vague memory that they used to joke about Camp coffee on Round the Horne. I may be wrong. It could be that they should have done.