Keep Calm and Eat Your Sausage Roll

From the Brand Historian’s Timeline: 1939

There was not much to smile about in Britain in 1939. With the possibility of war with Germany becoming ever more likely, in London, the nation’s art treasures were being packed up and transported to Wales for safekeeping and the first Anderson bomb shelters were being built. But even before the declaration of war on September 3rd, bombs were killing British civilians. However, in the dog days of August, it was the bombs of the IRA that were creating the fear and disruption.

But on Tyneside, at least one event had a happier outcome that year, for it was in 1939 that Jack Gregg founded what has become a much-loved national treasure. Initially delivering fresh eggs and yeast by bicycle to the folk of Newcastle, Jack’s bakery supplies home delivery service proved to be very popular and a few years later in 1951, Gregg opened his first bakery shop in Gosforth.

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With his sons Ian and Colin now active in the business, Greggs multiplied and began buying up other bakeries – in Scotland, London, Kent and the Midlands. By the 2010s, when Greggs had unreservedly won the Great British Bake-off by acquisition, the business underwent a significant repositioning and began to focus extensively on good value food on the go, believing it would fare better competing against quick-service food restaurants than going head-to-head with big supermarkets on the price of bread.

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The Brand Historian is a proud follower of Greggs and is particularly partial to a bacon roll on early morning starts or match days. On one of these trips, he and his daughter were amongst the many to have discovered the joys of the Greggs Vegan Roll, featuring that miracle of plant food, Quorn. Despite the neigh-Sayers, the Vegan Roll became a tremendous social media triumph for Greggs and created a platform for the business to become celebrated as the well-grounded antidote to the food snobbery of the modern age. This was brilliantly demonstrated in their Gregory and Gregory foodie festival film that was also a great social media hit.

Watch more at:

1939 Popular Music 

We’ll Meet Again* Vera Lynn

*The 1939 recording also featured Arthur Young playing on a Novachord, a kind of early synthesizer.

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