painted glass panel from a game department
Painted glass panel from a game department.
Whole sides of bacon were hung from rails above the shelf behind the counter. Customers have their bacon cut to whatever thickness they wanted. Shoppers in poorer areas, such as Kentish Town or Kilburn, bought streaky bacon and wanted it sliced thinly to make it go a long way. In prosperous areas such as Brondesbury or Muswell Hill, the greatest demand was for expensive back bacon, which Sainsbury's imported from Canada.

Uncooked hams were graded for size and hung on the rails high up on the wall behind the counter at an angle so that their plumpness could be seen.

Poultry was available both ready-trussed and untrussed, although in hot weather only a small number of birds were displayed on the counter. It was important not to have too many birds ready-prepared as they would go off quickly once gutted. So after a customer had selected an untrussed bird, it was sent to the poultry room behind the shop to be prepared while she waited.

In season, the range of game was tremendous: wild duck, widgeon, capercailzie, pheasant, grouse, black cock, partridge, hares and rabbits. British game was available only when there was an 'r' in the month, but some frozen game was available all year.

The product range also included some fresh meats, such as frozen New Zealand lamb, but Sainsbury's shops did not include complete butchery departments until the First World War, when fresh pork, Dorset lamb and beef were added to the range.

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Copyright J Sainsbury plc, 2000.