Oh where oh where can my Benger's be?

I have had a cry for help.   Many of you read my recent article about Benger’s Food and may have read the comment from BigDave who still has one solitary tin, which he rations to himself with laudable self restraint.  This was his message:

My old mum used to give me Bengers food when I was poorly as a child.
It was so scrummy I would sometimes fake being ill just to get a drink of it.
I have looked everywhere to try to buy some recently, but I think its gone out of production.  What a shame and a great loss to my taste buds.

Does anyone know if it can still be bought anywhere and if not, does anyone have any at home they would like to sell to me?
I would pay a very good price.
Contact me on………..
verytalldave (@) hotmail.com
If you can help…………..
Thanks to all………………..

I have tried very hard to research not only when Benger’s went out of production (I suspect late 50’s/early 60’s) but whether there are any tins of Benger’s out there, to put an end to BigDave’s torment.

Any information gratefully received.  Let’s help BigDave.

Ps.  He’s tried Complan but it falls woefully short.

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77 Responses to Oh where oh where can my Benger's be?

  1. Peter Ashley March 22, 2010 at 06:59 #

    I’ve always thought ‘Benger’ was a good name for a dog. Does this help?

  2. Freelance Unbound March 22, 2010 at 11:51 #

    Apparently Elizabeth Craig produced an Invalid Recipe Book published by Benger’s Food Limited around 1949. Perhaps it has a recipe?

  3. wartimehousewife March 22, 2010 at 16:01 #


  4. wartimehousewife March 22, 2010 at 16:04 #

    It’s a good thought Freelance, but Benger’s was produced in a laboratory somewhere and was a powder containing predigested starch enzymes etc. Presumably the recipe book had lots of ways of using Benger’s in dishes to make them more nourishing and easily digestible.

  5. BigDave March 22, 2010 at 17:02 #

    I never thought for one second that I would be the focal point for a help campaign.

    What worries me is that some out there may very well have a half-empty tin lurking in the back of a food cupboard. Some may now be tempted to try this elixir and find they like it. We could end up with a country of people hunting down old tins of Bengers.

  6. wartimehousewife March 22, 2010 at 17:59 #

    I think you’re probably safe BigDave. Few people these days would be brave enough to try the contents of a (possibly) 40 year old tin, however nostalgic they may feel about it. Although, who knows, what if the manufacturer was stimulated to produce it again?

    Also, my blog is reasonably well attended but I don’t flatter myself that it has THAT much influence!!

  7. grooverider March 22, 2010 at 19:16 #

    It seems that Benger’s Food was also recommended for kittens and convalescent cats.


    .. scroll down the page to the part about feeding.

    And the U.S. trademark expired in 1986


    Maybe the cats got all the cream after all ?

  8. wartimehousewife March 22, 2010 at 20:26 #

    Welcome Grooverider! I am in awe! How on earth did you find all that? Thank you so much. If the trademark only expired in 1986, there may be more hope for BigDave after all, although I suppose it doesn’t mean it was still being produced up to that time. Thanks again.

  9. Liz Paton May 12, 2010 at 19:59 #

    Came across your messages when searching for details on the history of Bengers Food, Manchester. I had never heard of Bengers till recently when emptying my uncles house after he died I found a tall etched vase with a tin base and underneath it said ” Bengers Self Digesting Food, Manchester. I am trying to find out where this came from, why it was made and how old it is if anyone has any idea? Just in the process of doing a website where there will be a picture of it in the next few hours.
    If anyone knows anything about it I would be grateful to hear from you


  10. wartimehousewife May 14, 2010 at 00:17 #

    Welcome Liz. I hope Big TallDave is still reading as I bet he can help. Do let us know the details of your website so we can all have a look.

  11. wartimehousewife May 14, 2010 at 00:18 #

    Welcome Liz. I hope Big TallDave is still reading as I bet he can help. Do let us know the details of your website so we can all have a look. Did you follow the link on my piece?

  12. Liz Paton May 16, 2010 at 15:47 #

    here you will find pictures of a bengers vase if you click on the glass button

    thanks for replying

  13. Freelance Unbound May 16, 2010 at 16:17 #

    Sadly, this link doesn’t work. Oh where, oh where can your Benger’s vase be?!

  14. robin carter September 26, 2010 at 18:24 #

    hi dave ive been looking for bengers for years,there is some stuff they sell in heath shops that is very much like bengers, it s a usa food that was given to soldiers during the cvil war,it is in a light brown box about 8 inches tall,the name escapes me for now ??

  15. wartimehousewife September 26, 2010 at 21:01 #

    Welcome Robin – I hope Dave has subscribed to this post so that he can pick ip your message. Thanks for the info.

  16. Andrea October 7, 2010 at 23:06 #

    Well, hello from South Africa. I too used to be given Bengers Food when I was ill as a child, my mother and her mother and probably my great grandmother. I LOVE it, my mum and I have searched high and low for it many many times, but the last batch we found was in the 80’s from our pharmacist, mom bought his last four boxes. Yes, they were not in tins then, but small 500g boxes and we seem to recall they had been manufactured by Fissan. Sadly though, we never saw it again and probably thought due to the economic sanctions against South Africa in the 80’s. I would happily buy it by the ton if I could find any (hence my frequent and current search which led me here). I am a bit of a kitchen buff tho, and am working on a ‘recipe’ for something as close to it as possible. I shall have to trust my memory for taste, but I know it’ll come flooding back :) Sorry I can’t shed light on Big Dave’s search, but I am working on a solution x

  17. wartimehousewife October 8, 2010 at 01:13 #

    Welcome to Andrea from South Africa! You are my first commentator from there and we’re glad to have you on board. Do let us know if you come up with anything and I hope you keep reading.

  18. Liz Scott December 6, 2010 at 19:58 #

    Hello! I have been searching for information on Bengers for a while now. My mother always told us that my father`s father was the chemist who invented Bengers! He was a recluse and died before I was born. My father was born in 1904 so his father must have been born in about1870-1880. I wish I had the evidence to prove all this but sadly I don`t. He used to live in Kenley, Surrey and his name was Sykes.

  19. sheila foster December 7, 2010 at 16:28 #

    Has Bengers as a bedtime drink as a child during WW2. It was fantastic
    Bring it back into production I say, so that today’s children can enjoy it too.

  20. wartimehousewife December 7, 2010 at 17:41 #

    Welcome Sheila. I have never had Bengers but there does seem to be a tremendous residual loyalty from those who used to drink it. I think today’s children would probably benefit greatly from such a drink. I might even make some enquiries… Hope you keep reading.

  21. wartimehousewife December 7, 2010 at 20:12 #

    Welcome Liz Scott. Wouldn’t it be brilliant if he was? I suppose the only thing you could do would be to find out which company bought out Bengers and see if they have any archives. The other person would be Robert Opie at the Packaging Museum (I did a blog about it a few months ago) – he might know more about it. Good luck.

  22. Freelance Unbound December 7, 2010 at 22:05 #

    I interviewed Robert Opie some months ago and he actually has no idea what’s in his collection! He has around half a million items crammed into, I believe, his house, with no way of cataloguing or archiving them without funding to do it. He sounded a bit despondent actually…

  23. sheila foster December 8, 2010 at 20:46 #

    Dear Wartime Housewife
    Thankyou for replying.

    In heavily bombed Coventry with severe rationing, our evening drink of Bengers was the highspot of the day – about 6pm in the evening for the children.

    It was a thickened drink made with milk and had a rich creaminess, not as sickly as Horlicks or Oveltine. I wish that some manufacturer might reinvent it particularly in todays climate of austerity.

    Our parents endevoured to give us anything which they thought might add to a restricted diet & Bengers certainly fitted the bill

    Best wishes Sheila Foster

  24. sheila foster December 9, 2010 at 08:12 #

    Dear Wartime Housewife,
    I have just been online & discovered through ABE Books that one of their booksellers -‘Tadcaster Bookshop has a copy of Elizabeth Craigs Invalid Recipe Book produced by Bengers food in the 1950’s for sale at £7.75 plus postage of £3. Another ABE bookshop in Australia also has a copy. Hope this is helpful to you.
    Best wishes Sheila

  25. wartimehousewife December 9, 2010 at 12:38 #

    Oh brilliant -thanks for that Sheila, ~I feel another book purchase coming on!

  26. Cocks January 13, 2011 at 13:20 #

    I too had Bengers as a child (I’m now 42) when I wasn’t well, oh how I loved to be ill then!!! I would also love to see it come back now so I could give it my own children, especially my daughter who refuses to take any type of medicine at all (luckily she’s quite a healthy child!)
    I did a search on line a while ago and certainly didnt find this much information then, glad to see Bengers still has such a large loyal following!
    Please someone bring it back!!! :-)

  27. wartimehousewife January 13, 2011 at 14:32 #

    Welcome Cocks – I’m older than you and I’d never heard of it until I started reading 40s/50s magazines. The only thing even close is Complan and I’ve been told it simply doesn’t measure up. I am doing some further research and I’ll let you all know how I get on. Hope you keep reading.

  28. Cocksy January 13, 2011 at 15:50 #

    Good luck with the research, heres hoping someone can be persuaded to remake Bengers!!!

  29. robin carter November 23, 2011 at 20:11 #

    no news on our favourite drink then ??? it seems that its all dried up ?? oh well back to the horlix ,cocoa,ovaltine and dream of BENGERS mmmmmmmmm

  30. wartimehousewife November 24, 2011 at 00:24 #

    Sorry, Robin, but if I can get hold of an old tin – doesn’t have to have any in it – I have promised to write to Nestle and suggest that they bring it back. Could we all keep our eyes peeled for an old tin please. If anyone fuinds one, I’m happy to buy it off them – for a sensible price, naturally.

  31. Jj Scott May 11, 2012 at 22:17 #

    My mother is reading ” pilgrim inn” and refer to “- bengers” as I google the word , I find she has a remote memory of the drink- and have read to her the info found! If anyone has more info or can say if it is still avail. Pls text me- I am enjoying conversation remembered by her in England as a young child and the rations each day. Thx. Jj Scott

  32. wartimehousewife May 13, 2012 at 22:58 #

    Welcome Jj Scott: Sorry I’ve taken so long to reply, but it’s been a rather hectic weekend.

    I am trying to track down a tin of Bengers in order to see what’s in it. Then I shall write to Nestle or someone similar and look into the possibility of getting it manufactured again. There are plenty of people who remember it with such fondness that I’m dying to know what it tastes like! I do hope you keep reading. Have you thought about writing down any of your mother’s stories? They are so interesting to the generations coming after and a wonderful record of someone’s life.

  33. Jj Scott May 20, 2012 at 20:28 #

    Thanks for your reply and please keep me posted!
    As we learned from both our parents , we have been
    very lucky, both authors and great story tellers.
    I still have conversations with my mom about her life
    And my brother had a collection of stories and her writing
    Published for family and friends. Lucky us!

  34. Lynda Finn May 27, 2012 at 07:42 #

    If you have the ingredients from the tin, let me know and I’ll do some experiments to see if I can copy them effectively, I remember Bengers very well indeed, so will also remember the taste if I can get it right :)



  35. wartimehousewife May 27, 2012 at 21:52 #

    Welcome Lynda Finn. I’m trying very hard to find the Bengers tin and have many dealers peeling their eyes even as we speak. As soon as I find one, I’ll be in touch. Thank you.

  36. Mike June 4, 2012 at 00:47 #

    Bengers , was definatly available in the 80’s in the UK as I remember having it as a child, before the likes of complan seemed to come on to the market and Bengers dissappeared. I’ve been searching for it for years hoping that it was bought out by someone like nesle’s and still made for the african market ( as so many of our lamented products seem to be ) . If anyone can identify the last manufacturer of it or indeed if its still made for somewhere You’de make me a happy6 guy as it was far better than the sickly complan stuff we can get now.

  37. wartimehousewife June 4, 2012 at 00:52 #

    Welcome Mike. We’re working on it. I have agents in the field seeking out the tin at the very least and even a volunteer to make an attempt on its re-composition. I will keep you updated.

  38. Clifton Hodge July 28, 2012 at 21:05 #

    My mother used to give me bengers in the mid 70’s I think the tin
    was a light Brown in color. I was feeling a litttle run down and went online to look if I could get it from Holland n Barrett but to no avail!!!!!!!!

  39. wartimehousewife July 28, 2012 at 22:28 #

    Welcome Clifton Hodge. It’s frustrating isn’t it? I can’t even find an empty tin, let alone a vestige of the product. The search is on and as soon as we find out what was in it, we’ll start from there.

  40. Trevor October 17, 2012 at 09:36 #

    I certainly drank Bengers into the 70’s, wish I could find it now. Used to have a mug most nights to help sleep although I think it was more likely that I enjoyed it so much!!
    Think it came in a box at the end but not entirely sure, used to buy it in Boots or Timothy Whites (anyone remember Timothy Whites in Dorchester?).
    If anyone finds a new source PLEASE let me know, my mum and I will be very grateful.

  41. wartimehousewife October 17, 2012 at 14:27 #

    Welcome Trevor. We’re certainly working on it and if I can only find a tin with an ingredients list on it, I know someone who might be able to make a sample and take it Nestle or someone of that ilk. they stopped production in 1985 but there is certainly a groundswell of support.

    I DO remember Timothy Whites, but in Staines in Middlesex. It’s a kitchen centre now. Ho hum.

  42. Flat Stanley October 17, 2012 at 17:53 #

    Did you try the museum that has it as an exhibit ? I’m sure some friendly curator would scan the ingredients list to you.

  43. Petherwin October 26, 2012 at 21:00 #

    Benger’s gets several mentions in the novel ‘Palladian’ by Elizabeth Taylor (Virago, 1946).

    Mrs Turner, the Headmistress of the school where Cassandra Dashwood is a senior pupil, says to Cassandra, “I do feel a course of Sanatogen is the thing for you. You don’t seem in a fit state. Let me see . . ” she put down her coffee cup and left the room. Cassandra leant back in Mrs Turner’s chair, dreaming, half-listening as she had for years. ‘Cups of tea … Sanatogen … Berger’s … Change your damp stockings.’
    Mrs Turner was back. “I expect you are very tired. Stay quietly here. Ethel is bringing us some Benger’s.”

  44. wartimehousewife October 26, 2012 at 22:46 #

    Welcome Petherwin. How brilliant – I’ve never come across a literary reference before. And haven’t we all had day-dreams like that …..? Oh. Just me then!

  45. Tony October 31, 2012 at 23:08 #

    Complan v bengers there is no contest. bengers wins hands down. the subtle wheaty taste creates an enzymic reaction in the gut, perfect for those with digestive problems. if someone has an old tin or box.to send on for analysis i.e.Nestle,They must be on to a winner. there is nothing that compares to this wonderful product and soooo delicious.

  46. Annie January 26, 2013 at 15:54 #

    I have just read about Bengers in a book called “Miss Buncle’s Book ” by Mrs. Walker. Having no idea what it was, I Googled it and found your post. I am in America and had not heard of it before. It almost sounds like Carnation Instant Breakfast.

  47. wartimehousewife January 26, 2013 at 17:08 #

    Welcome Annie. I don’t suppose it had anything about what was in it, did it? I’m desperately trying to find a Bengers tin in an effort to pursuade someone to start making it again. Miss Buncle’s Book sounds most intriguing; is it an American book?

  48. GillF February 8, 2013 at 15:23 #

    Frederick Baden Benger and Standen Paine were the original partners in Benger’s Food, the former died in 1903 and the latter in 1908, both each leaving a fortune (then) of half a million pounds. Paine was described as a pharmaceutical chemist and Benger as a manufacturing chemist. I only know this because I’m researching an architect who added an extension to Standen Paine’s house in 1900 and I wanted to know who he was! If anyone wants the proper references google either of their names. Not sure I’d want to eat anything concocted by a couple of chemists!

  49. wartimehousewife February 8, 2013 at 17:38 #

    Welcome Gill F. Thanks for that. I will have a look at their profiles as it might give us more clues about Bengers. Good luck with your research.

  50. Costa May 15, 2013 at 00:56 #

    I found out this Bergen name reading an Agatha Christie’s novel, “After the funeral”. One character says: “Timothy so often feels like a snack – and one cannot ask too much of other people’s servants but there is a gas ring in a little room off the pantry, so that Miss Gilchrist can warm up Ovaltine or Benger’s there without disturbing anybody.” http://www.readfreeonline.net/OnlineBooks/After_the_Funeral/After_the_Funeral_8.html

    I didn’t know any of them, Ovaltine or Bergen so I did my search and found your website. Quite interesting with all these posts. Looks like those foods were quite important on UK wartime- Agatha’s novel is from those years. I guess you in Uk have kind of FDA where every drug or food is registered. May be you can do some research in old governmental archives or have your collaborators do some.

    You’ll be happy to know that I am reading your website sitting on my sofa in Bogota, Colombia, South America. Cheers!

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