I never cease to be amazed by the range of flavours in which you can now buy potato crisps. This really does seem to me to fall squarely into the category of Who-Needs-It?
When I was a kid there was only one flavour of crisps (potato) and you got a little ball of salt in a twisted piece of blue paper inside the packet to sprinkle over them. This sprinkling was a ritualistic pleasure in itself, a prelude to the actual salty, crispy joy of eating them.
But the packaging machines at the factory were obviously fallible, because sometimes you got a packet with no salt, and other times you got a packet with two or more salts.
This uncertainty, however, was not entirely negative, in that it spiced up the crisp-eating with unpredictability, thus making the moment of opening the packet and peering inside to find the salt more exciting; which proves that doubt is a vital ingredient to ultimate enjoyment.
If you KNOW that you’re going to get exactly what you wanted and expected every time, the actual experience, when it arrives, is diminished.
In addition, the only drink available from the pub that your parents were inside, that clinking cavern of semi-darkness whose adult mysteries you were not allowed to penetrate, was lemonade; which was lovely. No other options were sought or even dreamed about.
Sitting outside the pub in the fresh air on a summer’s evening with your friends, enjoying crisps, salted or not, and lemonade, while all the grown-ups were inside destroying themselves in a dense fug of cigarette smoke, doing whatever grown-ups did — presumably playing darts, spilling drinks and moaning about the government (pretty much the same as now) was wonderful.
Which goes to show that things don’t necessarily get better for children just because they’ve got more choice, can have whatever they like, and go wherever they want. Come back, 1955, all is forgiven!