Marks & Spencer’s Storm in a Jam Pot

Some people tell me that, now and again, they love nothing better than dining on a sneaky jam sandwich, partly for convenience and partly because it brings back childhood memories of picnics in the park and warm summers (I’ve certainly forgotten what those are like…). The phrase certainly brings back childhood memories for me but not of the culinary kind. I grew up in a first floor flat overlooking a police garage, which was full of the Rover police cars used in the Seventies and Eighties. They were known as ‘jam sandwiches’ because of the orange stripe around the middle. Perhaps a preoccupation with motors is the legacy of an Essex upbringing, but I digress…

Marks & Spencers has put the humble jam sarnie under the spotlight this week. The retailer has today introduced a new credit crunch-busting sandwich to their ‘Simply’ range– a strawberry jam sandwich which will set you back 75p. And it has created something of a hullabaloo in the press. Some angry commentators claim that it’s an affront to consumers struggling to make ends meet, when a jam sandwich can easily and more affordably be made at home. Others complain that nutritionists would be outraged by the unhealthy jam and white bread used. If anything this sarnie is being held up as a symbol of everything that is wrong with modern Britain. An unhealthy, cookery-shy nation that is so time poor it can’t even be bothered to make its own obesity-inducing sandwich for lunch. Watch out the doner kebab…

Personally I find it faintly ridiculous that while conflict rages in Afghanistan and we stumble through the biggest economic crisis we’ve seen for decades, a couple of tablespoons of jam and two slices of white bread can create such a fuss. But perhaps along with a fascination for anything Jonathan Ross does these days, it’s the chronic need for light relief.

I mostly make my own lunches now – it’s cheaper and easier to do so when you work from home anyway. You don’t have to remember to make sandwiches the night before and risk them going stale, or worry about your leftover Bolognese leaking in your bag on the way into work. Plus I’m a couple of miles from the nearest sandwich shop and it seems pretty non-frugal to buy in sarnies when all the ingredients are at home.

But when I worked in London I was generally in a rush and not as well organised, and I used to struggle to find a shop-bought sandwich for under £1. Occasionally I could get a packaged egg and cress or plain prawn sarnie for 99p. Even to get a much nicer freshly made one from a sandwich shop was usually about £1.50 or more. So perhaps M&S is doing us all a favour.

Personally I probably wouldn’t buy their jam sandwich. While I’ve got a terrible sweet tooth, I just wouldn’t find a jam sandwich satisfying enough to eat for lunch. I would feel the need for something savoury and more filling. But DJ tells me he quite happily indulges in one from time to time. Many busy commuters buy a couple of pieces of toast and jam from a sandwich shop on the way into work anyway, so why the fuss when M&S decide to package and sell it to us? OK, it’s hardly frugal when you could buy a whole loaf and make your own sandwiches, but why is it any different from the cheese or prawn sandwiches it and other retailers sell? We aren’t being forced to buy them!

Would you buy the M&S jam sandwich or does it go against the grain? Are there other types of ‘credit crunch’ sandwiches you would like to see instead? Anyone for a marmite sandwich…?

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14 Responses to Marks & Spencer’s Storm in a Jam Pot

  1. PATRICK says:

    sO A JAM SANDWICH AT 75P COS GOOD OLD mARKS WANT TO HELP US ALL OUT…Word to the wise did`nt woolies think they also could fool all the people all the time…Marks and spooks days are numbered..people want value for money not idiots with gimmicks

  2. Christine says:

    Goodness me – I don\’t think I;ve had a jam sarnie since I left home. Mind you all our jam was home made with produce off the farm and cooked on the range which was running anyway to heat the water so it was pretty frugal stuff. Nowt wrong with a jam sarnie if you have made the jam yourself and even the bread as well. Not quite the thing to eat at work though – jam can get everywhere!! But if it\’s a treat like a bar of chocolate which can cost nearly as much sometimes well hey ho there you go – horses for courses. If they don\’t sell the line won\’t last long. Can\’t see that yer average jam sarnie eater will be found in M&S somehow.

  3. peter says:

    wow marks and spencer selling a sandwich for 75p i wonder how the advert for it would look on the tv he is a sandwich for the peasants made with real jam but not just any jam m&s jam so if youre poor and always wanted to buy some food item at our store but found it to expensive here is your chance to act like the people who have more money then sense and are willing to pay up to 50 per cent more for our food then at tesco\’s now here is your one and only chance you will get in your lifetime so hurry as this offer will not last for ever…

  4. Jacquie says:

    Hi Piper, Ive been following your blog for about a year now. Its ace. Thought I would comment about the Jam sandwiches – when my boyfriend and I were completely broke as only he was working, we found that jam sandwiches were the cheapest addition to his lunchbox. A pot of Jam is about 40p and a cheap loaf is 40p, making that 80p for sandwiches for the week! Not healthy I know, but as he was doing 8 hours manual labour a day, the calories were appreciated. As for M&S selling them for 75p each, I think that if people are stupid and lazy enough to buy them (or if it is simply convenient) then let them! Fortunately things aren\’t that bad now, but I will always remember how jam sandwiches got us through those difficult times. Jax.

  5. Sarah says:

    Hi Piper… You\’re right, there is no way this can be value for money. But then I guess the market will decide whether it\’s a winner – if people don\’t buy it they will probably drop it. I have a sneaking feeling they knew this would deliver them a nice slice of publiciity though. I\’m surprised there has not been a Marmite sandwich yet, as you say. Perhaps the next step is US favourite – the old peanut butter and \’jelly\’ (jam). Sarah

  6. piper says:

    Crisps sandwiches were a favourite of mine as a teenager…very naughty though! Jam sandwich with homemade bread is definitely more tempting, Christine. We made five seed bread today which is very tasty. What flavour jam did you use, Jax? Weren\’t the peanut and jam sarnies a favourite of Elvis? Got a feeling they were fried too though…

  7. nicola says:

    I have been following your blog for some time in my attempt to live frugally, which I am not doing so well with. I felt compelled to reply to today\’s blog entry…not sure why, but anyway, here goes. It\’s nice that M&S are doing cheaper sandwiches, my goodness the price of some of them are astounding. Yes, to make your own would be much easier on the pocket, but there are times when even the best of prepared people are caught short. A jam sandwich would be ideal for the little ones, in oparticular mine, who are incredibly fussy. Finding a sandwich suitable for them, would, until now have been impossible. They should maybe consider doing other cheaper sandwiches too!Still laughing at Peter\’s comment haha x

  8. nicola says:

    Oh I forgot, I am not sure how to add my link, so here it is: http://smilernpb-smilernpb.blogspot.com/

  9. T says:

    Sounds great if caught on the hop with hungry kids like mine who won\’t eat mayonaise or mustard – which all the sarnies seem to have, M&S have been doing jam sandwiches for a while in their kids lunchboxes in the in store cafe – it;s obviously been popular so they\’ve expanded the idea – if you don\’t want it don\’t buy it. Hope they do Marmite, cheese spread, and peanut butter too – or how about a nice dose of Enid Blyton in a potted salmon spread sarnie – yummy.

  10. Kerri says:

    I honestly cannot see how people can make a fuss about M&S bringing out a jam sandwich. It\’s no different to any other pre-packed convenience lunch/snack food from M&S or anywhere else for that matter. I am sure that no one lives under the illusion it really cost £2-£3 to make a chicken and salad sandwich or a bowl of pasta but there are still a lot of people who are willing to pay that much on a regular basis, or some of us who tend to make our own lunches just have the odd day when we didn\’t have time/forgot/couldn\’t be bothered. Of course a 75p sandwich isn\’t going to mean that people who are struggling for cash suddenly race into M&S for lunch each day but by the same token, if it sells alongside all the other sandwich and salad offerings – well what\’s the big deal? No one is holding a gun to people\’s heads forcing them to buy one.

  11. AK says:

    I\’d really like to see a marmite sandwich in the shops. I\’m a vegetarian, so the choice of bought sandwiches isn\’t that great. They only seem to do cheese or egg ones. We veges need much more variety than that. I love marmite, and wish they sold that in the shops, as I get fed up with cheese all the time. Also, they could do soya meat sandwiches, too. Those would go down well with the veges.

  12. Simon says:

    I worked for moto in an M&S simply food outlewt and before i left everyday we kept getting asked for the jam sandwichies but because we were owned and run by moto not m&s we could not sell it. Should bring it back.

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