Awesome Street Food Photography, Circa 1877


Remember Hangover Heaven, the mobile “clinic” treating hangovers in Vegas for $90 a pop? Let’s take a moment to admire the original hangover-cure pushers and street-meat vendors of London. The photos are by John Thomson, a Scottish photojournalist who paired with radical journalist Adolphe Smith to produce a monthly magazine covering London’s working class, Street Life in London. When their series was published as a book in 1877, it immediately became a bestseller.

The Sellers of Shellfish

Fish on Fridays goes down with the Irish, and on Saturday nights we get often a better class of customers than on other days. The workmen and their wives and sweethearts are about then, and hardly know how to spend their money fast enough. After visiting the public-houses they finish up with a fish supper of the very finest sort.

The Cheap Fish of St-Giles

Like the majority of his class, he does not always sell fish, but only when the wind is propitious and it can be bought cheaply. On the day when the photograph was taken, he had succeeded in buying a barrel of five hundred fresh herrings for twenty five shillings. Out of these he selected about two hundred of the largest fish, which he sold at a penny each, while he disposed of the smaller herrings at a halfpenny.

Ginger-Beer Makers

The enormous number of persons who have spent their Saturday evening and wages in getting lamentably drunk, come out in the morning with their throats parched and are glad of anything that will relieve the retributive thirst from which they suffer. Ginger-beer, under these circumstances, is particularly effective in restoring tone and mitigating the consequences of intemperance; and these are facts which readily account for the large sales effected on Sunday mornings.”

LSE Library, Flickr via Kuriositas