Packaging for fresh provisions
The early range of fresh provisions sold by Sainsbury’s was weighed and wrapped individually, and any packaging was simple.
Items such as butter, cheese or sausages would be wrapped in greaseproof and brown paper and tied with string. If two types of butter were purchased, slips of paper would be inserted so that customers could tell the difference. (In later years each package of butter was labelled with its country of origin and each pack of margarine bore a greaseproof label indicating the type.)
Customers would bring their own jugs for milk and sometimes their own dishes for butter. Eggs were sold loose in wicker baskets and carried home in paper bags.
When groceries were first introduced in 1903, packaging remained simple. Tea packets were made of paper with a foil lining and different coloured seals to denote different blends. Sugar was sold in thick blue paper bags, made by salesmen during quiet moments. Flour was sold in reusable cotton bags.
Packaging for pies and cooked meats was more elaborate. An order of half a pound or more of York ham would be placed in a white box with green edging and tied with a green ribbon. ‘Hand-raised’ pork pies came in boxes with designs of poppies and corn on the lid. Bloater paste, potted meats and jams came in earthenware jars, featuring the Sains-berry design. This pun – an S with a pattern of holly berries - was the company’s registered trademark between 1909 and 1951.
During the 1930s and 40s several brand names were used for Sainsbury’s own products. ‘Selsa’ was the brand name for a wide range of grocery goods, while ‘Crelos’ was used for margarine and ‘Basket Brand’ for tinned fruits.