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Whitstable mum in custard shortage

By This is Kent  |  Posted: March 25, 2009

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A MUM of three is dis-custard after a hunt for the dessert sauce in the town proved fruitless.

Keen baker Jules Serkin, 43, of West Cliff, Whitstable, needed a tin of custard powder to top off her apple and blackcurrant crumble.

But she was left with a sour taste in her mouth after getting no joy in either Co-ops at Oxford Street and Canterbury Road, and in Somerfield, in the High Street.

Even a trek to Tankerton's Tesco Express - a corner shop version of its superstores - was wasted.

"I try to support my local businesses, but in the end I had to resort to going to one of the big supermarkets to get what I needed," said Jules, a holiday rental company director.

"I feel very sad that I can't seem to get basic stuff from my high street, and am driven to go online.

"Custard is a staple product on my shopping list and I cannot understand why it should be so hard to find.

"An assistant in Somerfield said they'd had other shoppers asking for tins of custard, but it hadn't been in stock since the shop was refurbished.

"And in the Co-ops I was just greeted with an empty shelf where it should be, and no idea when they might be getting it in.

"I am upset because it seems these shops cannot order a product that customers are demanding as it doesn't seem to fit in with what they are selling.

"I had to resort to buying sachets which cost only a few pence less than a tin, and don't go very far at all. If I buy a tin, it goes in my pantry and will last me quite a few crumbles.

"I'm making an apple and blackcurrant crumble and, as I am trying to eat healthily can control what I put into the custard, like skimmed milk.

"With the sachets, there are all sorts of ingredients and additives - and you just add water to make it.

"It's very convenient, but not as good as the real thing. Custard should be a lovely comfort, nice and thick."

Mrs Serkin finally managed to find a tin of own brand custard powder in a Co-op, a few days after her initial hunt, but not her beloved Bird's.

Spokesman for Somerfield Pete Williams said: "Somerfield in Whitstable High Street underwent a major investment last April to upgrade and improve the store for local customers.

"We pride ourselves on our customer service and ability to meet their needs.

"We are a bit perplexed about your reader's trouble in finding custard in the store. It offers a variety of custards including: tinned, fresh, cartons and in powdered form.

"Today (Monday March 23) it has both Somerfield own brand tinned custard and tinned custard made by Ambrosia. The store stocks Somerfield Instand Custard Mix - to which you simply add water.

"Regrettably the store does not have sufficient space to stock the larger tins of classic Bird's Custard Powder - to which you add milk and sugar to make your custard."

A Co-operative Group spokesman said: "We are sorry to hear a customer is unhappy with our custard range in Whitstable.

"Our smaller convenience store in Canterbury Road has only ever sold sachets of Bird's custard powder.

"The Oxford Street store did stock Bird's tinned custard until recently but the product was withdrawn following thorough analysis of product sales across our range.

"This store does however, sell The Co-operative's own brand of tinned custard powder and we would be pleased to offer this customer a free sample to try."

* Somerfield is to become Budgens from May 11 - but all 33 jobs are safe, said Mr Williams. It has been forced to sell to ensure competition as Somerfield is now owned by the Co-op, which has two stores nearby.

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  • markwaghorn  |  September 26 2011, 3:09PM

    Oi Kentbloke! Bit touchy, aren't we? Don't think you understand the meaning of the word pretext, by the way. It means excuse. It's not a grammatical term. Perhaps, you should try night school.

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  • Kentbloke  |  September 22 2011, 2:36PM

    @Markwaghorn You must be so lonely, picking up on everyones tiny mistakes. If I had realised this forum was part of some sort of advance Englsih exam, I would have used the proper pretext and synopsis, as to not offend someone who is obviously of narrow mind and ability. Don't forget to take the tablets.

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  • markwaghorn  |  September 22 2011, 2:02PM

    Oi Kentbloke! Even your own definition of custard powder - "conrnflour-LIKE sauce" - shows you made a mistake. You earlier insisted it was just cornflour. Make no apologies for pointing out your error as I am a stickler for accuracy and proud of it. As for your personal barbs, I will rise above it and not descend to a low level of debate.

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  • Kentbloke  |  September 22 2011, 12:11PM

    @ Markwaghorn. I bet you are the kind of guy who likes to point out the slightest mistake anyone has made, but are unable to look at yourself and your own failings. You must be a very lonely man. For the rest of us here is some more information on the reason why custard powder is made with corn flour, "Bird's Custard (a brand name) is the original version of what is known generically as custard powder. It is a cornflour (US cornstarch)-based powder which thickens to form a custard-like sauce when mixed with milk and heated to a sufficient temperature. Bird's Custard was first formulated and first cooked by Alfred Bird in 1837, because his wife was allergic to eggs,[1] the key ingredient used to thicken traditional custard. In some regions, such as Australia and some parts of the United Kingdom, the popularity of this type of dessert is such that it is simply known as "custard." In such cases, general usage of the word may be more likely to refer to the "Bird's" custard rather than to the traditional egg-based variety. In recent years, "instant" versions (containing powdered milk and sugar and requiring only hot water) and ready-made custard in tins, plastic pots and cartons have also become popular."

  • markwaghorn  |  September 21 2011, 5:08PM

    Kentbloke - you can't make dramatic statements like, "all custard powder is just corn flour," but then add the qualification that it also contains "vanilla flavouring". You should have written "all custard powder is just corn flour AND vanilla flavouring". If you want your arguments taken seriously, be accurate.

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  • Kentbloke  |  September 21 2011, 4:24PM

    Do they not sell corn flour in Whitstable? Thats all custard powder is Corn flour and vanilla flavouring, no eggs, no milk, just corn flour!

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    C Martin, Leeds  |  May 14 2009, 8:29AM

    Sweet! ....and it was all yellow.

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    Grubby Students, France  |  May 11 2009, 7:10PM

    Do you hear the people stir? Stirring the bowls of hungry men? It is the music of a people who will not eat cake again. When the beating of the eggs echoes the beating of your heart, there is a sweet about to start when the custard comes.

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    Marius, The Barricade, France  |  May 11 2009, 4:11PM

    There's a crumble can't be moistened, There's a pain goes on and on. Empty aisles and empty ladles, Now the Bird's Custard has gone. Here they talked of sherry trifles, Crêpe Suzette they lit the flame. Here they sang 'bout Tiramisu, And Crème Anglaise that never came. From the table in the corner, They had instant sachets torn. And they rose with custard pies, I can see them now! The very pies that they had flung, Became their last communion, On the sweet trolley at dawn...

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    Mr Hosmer-Angel Delight, Sandwich  |  May 11 2009, 3:36PM

    No doubt, this indigenous British dessert has been taken off our own supermarket shelves to make way for FOREIGN foods such as olives, Ryvita, Cillit Bang, Turkish Delight, French fries, Spanish Omelettes and Cornettos. Diana would be spinning in her grave if she knew what had become of this once-great nation of patriotic cornflour consumers.

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