Every year before Dad (and later Amy and I) had to return to the classroom, we’d visit my grandparents in Leaside and spent one day of the trip at the Ex. While the rides were fun, the Food Building and its array of cheap/free delights from local and major vendors was often the highlight. The odds are good I was running around (or tethered to my parents with a leash around my wrist so that I wouldn’t disappear into the crowd) the Food Building in 1980 when Canadian Grocer magazine prepared a special report/advertising section about the fair.
Even in 1980, it seems patrons were dismay by the dwindling amount of freebies exhibitors handed out each year. In an effort to bring back the “good ol’ days,” the CNE Food Products Association gave away over 10,000 food and food-related prizes on Food Products Day (August 20). Coupons were handed out that made patrons eligible to win items ranging from candy bars to Cuisinart food processors. Pipers were used to draw people to the coupon booths.
The special section provided profiles of what several key vendors offered the public that year, accompanied by colour photos. Here are the highlights (with apologies for the grainy quality of the shots).
A&P Food Stores
Besides their long-running cooking demonstrations at the Kitchen Theatre in the Better Living Centre, A&P operated a booth in the food building in 1980:
This new booth served A&P’s own Bokar Coffee for 25 cents a cup, which included cake. They also offered a new deluxe 100 mL tub of ice cream for 25 cents. It was offered in four flavours...Another CNE special was Bokar Coffee at $3.50 or 8 O’Clock at $3.00 for a one pound bag. There was also a pamphlet available at the booth with an entry form for $200 worth of groceries...The booth was managed by Loretta Ring, who also manages the two cafeterias at A&P’s head office. Loretta’s staff of 14 were colourfully dressed in red jackets and caps.Perhaps those outfits were then donated to nearby stores, as they resemble those seen in Amherstburg’s A&P for years. As my sister notes, those working the booth are smiling awkwardly.