History

  • Why do we dress up and decorate at Halloween?

    At Poundstretcher, Halloween is one of our favourite nights of the year. We love having an excuse to dress up as a scary character and kit out rooms with fabulous ghoulish items.

    But when all is said and done, it’s a bit of a strange thing, isn’t it? Why, one night every year, do we celebrate all things scary and spooky?

    Like most events that take place annually, there’s a fair bit of history and tradition that contributes to how we celebrate it today.

    So with Halloween fast approaching, we’ve taken a look at what lies behind the event to give you a better idea of why your Halloween decorations and Halloween costumes are as they are.

    Halloween’s Roots

    You may know that there’s a religious element to Halloween. In most Christian Churches, the 1st of November is All Saint’s Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day. So the 31st of October is All Hallows’ Eve or Evening, which over time has become ‘Halloween’ as we know it today.

    So that’s where the name comes from, but there’s some debate as to whether the traditions and celebrations associated with Halloween come from Pagan or Christian beginnings.

    One of the most popular theories is that many of the traditions stem from the Gaelic festival Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season and the transition to the darker time of year.

    This was the time of year when the Celtic people of Ireland and Scotland, in particular, believed the world of ghosts and ghouls was at its closest. So it was at Samhain that these people looked to scare away these ghosts and ghouls and keep them in their own world using all many of spooky techniques, such as lighting bonfires and wearing costumes for example.

    Interestingly, one of the reasons the pumpkin is so associated with Halloween is because Christians were encouraged to abstain from meat on All Hallows’ Day. So alternatives, such as pumpkins, were sought and thus became associated with Halloween as we know it.

    It seems that Halloween, as it’s celebrated in the modern age, takes inspiration from a number of historical traditions – all of which band together for the spooky fun we enjoy today.

    Halloween Today

    However, the traditions we today associate with Halloween came about, Halloween today is big business.

    With mass emigration from Europe to the USA in the 19th and 20th centuries, many traditions went with those people who moved across the Atlantic.

    This is why today there are huge festivals and celebrations around Halloween in the US, and the event has become a major part of popular culture both there and in the UK.

    You can get Halloween decoration ideas by taking a look through our superb selection of products. We also stock excellent Halloween partyware, as well as plenty of plenty of Halloween sweets and confectionary in our Trick and Treat range. We also host a wide selection of bargain Halloween decorations to get your homes or offices looking exactly as you wish.

    Be sure to head to your nearest Poundstretcher store before 31st October and get everything you need for Halloween 2018.

  • What You May Not Know About Tea

    Tea. It’s an ever important beverage here in the UK. We as a nation drink 165 million cups of tea on a daily basis; that's 60.2 billion being sipped on every year according to the UK Tea & Infusions Association. That’s a lot of brew!

    I think C. S. Lewis said it best: "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."

    It's true we are a tea-loving nation, but do you think you know all there is about it? You might drink it every day, you swear by the stuff, and you know your oolong from your pu-erh. So, do you think that makes you some kind of expert? Well, maybe you are, but why don’t you try and see how many of these facts you know? On one hand, you may just learn something, and if not then you can have the satisfaction of gloating. It’s win-win.

    Where Tea Originated

    Despite our nation being synonymous with tea, many others around the world had sampled and adored the beverage first. Long before we even began to enjoy a nice cuppa and a biscuit, tea was being drunk as a medicinal drink in Southwest China as early as the Han dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD). However, if you wish to believe in legends then the tale of tea goes back even further.

    In 2737 BC, the Emporer of China and renowned herbologist, Shen Nung, had been waiting within the shade of a tree for his boiled drinking water. It was at that point leaves blew down and rested atop the water, infusing the flavour into it. It was there Shen Nung sampled it, and in a stroke of serendipity the drink we call tea was born. Turns out, that very tree was a Camellia Sinensis (the same plant we use to make tea today).

    Whether or not this was true, the fact that tea was huge in China is no understatement. It even ranked up to being a recreational drink throughout the Tang dynasty (618 AD - 906 AD) and became their go-to national drink of choice. From there, Japanese Buddhist monks came over before introducing it back home in Japan (another nation where tea was a foundation of their culture).

    Despite this, it wasn't until the latter half of the 16th Century when Europeans began to hear of this exotic beverage. It was something of a curiosity gifted from sailors as the British East India Company dominated the import market. This stayed that way until the mid-1600's when tea became known as a drink for the wealthy. This was due to the marriage of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza who was a huge tea fanatic and made it hip and fashionable.

    How Tea Plants Grow

    Tea plants, Camellia Sinensis, are evergreens that mainly grow in the wilds of tropical and subtropical climates. However, did you know you can grow your own tea here in the UK? It's true! After all, the plant originates from the damp, cool mountains of China. People all across our nation have been growing their own for quite a while.

    Taken from seeds and cuttings, it takes between 4 to 12 years for a tea plant to bear seeds. After that, you add on another 3 so they can be ready for harvest. The growth is best with acidic soils and naturally require at least 127cm of rain a year with elevations of up to 1,500m above sea level. They can grow up to 16m if left undisturbed, though are trimmed to waist-height when grown to be harvested.

    If you are planning to grow your own tea you needn't worry about the elevation. Whilst the height provides a better flavour to the leaves (due to the higher up it is planted means it will grow slower), it isn't a necessary factor. What is important is to keep the plant in plenty of sunlight and keep them sheltered from the harsh British weather until they become taller (anything past 1m and they can fend for themselves outside).

    Which Teas Help Burn Fat?

    There's growing tea, and there's drinking it; it's the latter you'd care more about, right? Well, tea has so many wonderful benefits to it. There's more to this long-time favourite than just having something warm to sip on when it's cold or a drink to accompany your afternoon biscuit(s).

    For instance, take burning fat; it's something more people are becoming concerned about and are turning to tea for help. However, you need the right type first to better gain the desired effects.

    Most teas are great at helping with managing your figure; be it to give your metabolism a little boost, reduce bloating, help burn calories easily, or shut down the need for snacking. It's a wonderful drink, but there are teas that work better than most. These would be the likes of pu-erh, oolong, and rooibos.

    Pu-erh, a fermented Chinese tea, is great for reducing belly fat and lowering the amount of fat in the blood. The same can be said about rooibos tea, a sweet drink made from leaves from the Rooibos bush in South Africa. It's said that the polyphenols and flavonoids found in it inhibit the forming of new fat cells, and is a great way to kick-start your metabolism.

    Now here's one that's quite well known; oolong tea. This drink is rich in antioxidants and is a traditional Chinese tea. It can assist in controlling cholesterol, boosts metabolism, and aids digestion. It's what you'd expect from the land where tea was originated and used as medicine, right?

    It's also full of catechins that help you burn fat quickly, even so much as a pound a week according to a six-week Chinese study. Paired with exercise and healthy eating, all it takes it sipping some tea now and then to really aid in your endeavours.

    Which Tea Doesn’t Have Caffeine?

    Now, certain teas might claim to be decaf, in which it doesn't have any caffeine in. However, whilst it is true that they have significantly fewer amounts compared to non-decaf, there are still traces of caffeine that remain. So, it's not caffeine-free, is it?

    But don't lose hope! There does exist a tea out there that has no caffeine in it whatsoever, and it's fantastic for you health-wise. It's a tea you've bound to have heard of: herbal tea.

    Be it a sweet peppermint, a calming chamomile, or a sharp ginger tea, all of these are great for being non-caffeinated. So, you can enjoy a nice refreshing hot drink, whilst not pumping your body full of caffeine. Oh, and all of these are great for digestive issues, whilst peppermint especially helps clear nasal passages, chamomile is great for anxiety, and ginger is perfect for nausea.

    Which Tea Has The Most Antioxidants?

    Now, we've all heard of antioxidants, right? They're found in fresh fruits and vegetables, alongside tea. They have great health benefits such as clearing out unwanted things from your bloodstream and have been known to reduce the signs of ageing by minimising wrinkles. They even can help your mind by relieving stress.

    So, which teas are best when you want more antioxidants in your diet? Well, it's the coloured teas that are what you're looking for; black, green and white. They all offer the same cardiovascular benefits, with each having a slight difference.

    To start with, black tea is the most oxidised of them all. Though, it still contains a similar amount of antioxidants as it did before it went through oxidisation. It's said that drinking 3 or more cups a day may actually reduce the risk of a heart attack and promotes blood vessel relaxation. However, it contains more caffeine than green tea and contains a lot of polyphenols. It all depends on what you want out of your drink and your sense of taste.

    White tea is similar to the above, though due to it being dried in natural sunlight, it means that the catechin levels are much higher, but lowers tannins levels, which affects the taste and consistency.

    At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter which one you drink. There isn't an overall 'best tea' that is superior to everything. The taste, the caffeine content, the availability, even the cost, all of these make a big difference but all the teas provide the same health benefits. They can reduce the risk of cancer, helps the skin look its best, boosts your immune system and promotes a healthy heart.

    Which Tea Is Best For A Cold?

    Now, despite the sun being out (for the most part) the risk of colds are of course still around. Being a hot drink you'd assume that tea would be great to drink to help chase away nasty infections; but which one do you go for?

    Well, like before there are many that help boosts your immune system (remember the above?). However, so I'm not repeating myself you can find lemongrass, ginger, and peppermint(that delightful menthol helps break up congestion) teas are fantastic at clearing out your nasal passages. The above also serve as calming and refreshing throat soothers. There's nothing like that wonderful warm feeling that comforts your body after a nice cup of ginger tea.

    Tea with honey is also a great defence when you have a cold. Pair that up with some white or green tea to destroy pathogenic bacteria, and you'll be feeling better in no time.

    Which Tea Is Good For Sleep?

    Sleep is an important part of your health. We don't get enough of it. There are many ways to assist you in getting you to sleep peacefully. Those delightful rain/thunderstorm soundtracks on YouTube are one way, but tea can also be the saviour in helping you get some shut-eye!

    Good amounts of sleep (but also sleep that is great quality) impacts positively on your body. It helps give your body rest and a chance to repair itself. There are many teas that you could use, such as chamomile or herbal teas. With their soothing fragrance and taste it can work wonders. In fact, anything that has that calming effect is great to have when you're in bed with a good book.

    However, valerian tea is a herb that can be paired with tea for fantastic results. It can help those with insomnia, anxiety, and psychological stress and acts as a natural sedative.

    So there we have it, a small array of tea facts and advice to help you make the most out of Britain's favourite drink. Did you know all of the above? Was there anything in there new that you could apply to your tea-drinking life? How about one more little tidbit? There are an estimated 1,500 varieties of Camellia sinensis out there. Now, whilst we at Poundstretcher don't carry every single known one, we do sell all the top products such as Tetley, Yorkshire Tea, and PG Tips!

    Has all this tea talk made you thirsty? If so then why not see where your nearest local Poundstretcher is? Get out your tea cosy, and mosey on over by using our handy dandy Store Finder to grab some bargains in no time! It'll really hit the spot.

  • Start Your Day Well – All You Need To Know About Cereals

    cereal-and-strawb

    Breakfast. Well, what can be said that you haven’t already heard before? It should be the first meal you eat upon waking up and is claimed to be the most important of the day.

    They are convenient foods that go hand-in-hand with our bustling and busy society.  It's something quick and easy, that can be shovelled into your gob before you grab the keys and head out the door to work/school.

    With the vast importance placed upon it, it’s no wonder how popular cereals are nowadays and how much variety we have! Being one of the most popular and common choices for our morning meal, cereals have boomed through each passing generation, coming in all sizes, shapes, and flavours. Yes, cereals truly dominate breakfast time.
    choco-hoops-stars

    When Were Breakfast Cereals Invented?

    So, to this day we have breakfast cereals that go from borderline sweets in a box, to health-foods, to everything in-between. In fact, it might surprise you to know that the concept of breakfast cereal is actually quite new in the grand scheme of things, having only been around for 150 years.

    But, where did it all start?

    jame-caleb-jackson

    In America. That’s right, in 1863 a man named James Caleb Jackson (pictured above), a devoted religious vegetarian, created the basis of what we now know to be breakfast cereals. Running a popular wellness retreat in western New York, Jackson was an advocate for healthy living and saw the idea of eating pork chops and other red meats for breakfast was terrible for one’s health.

    He decided to provide his guests with a ‘better’ alternative; Granula. No, not Granola, but Granula. It was a type of grain cake and built like a brick. It was essentially a large block that was so solid you needed to soak it in milk overnight, and then the next morning you’d break bits off and crunch into it. It tasted as good as it sounds.

    John_Harvey_Kellogg

    The flavour only really improved once John Harvey Kellogg (pictured above), a skilled surgeon and someone as big on health as Jackson, decided he liked the idea of Granula and took Jackson’s concept.  Kellogg made an oaty wheat biscuit, incorporated a rolling process to improve the taste, and used it in order to further promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle (as well as one promoting sexual abstinence, but that’s a tale for another time).

    So what of Granola? Well, to avoid being sued for using the name Granula, Kellogg decided to change the name… to Granola (very original, right?), and from there his success snowballed. Despite the taste, Granola was sold to those outside his retreat and was soon selling almost 1.8 tonnes a week. From there Corn Flakes were invented shortly afterwards due to a stroke of serendipity, and the rest is ancient cereal history.

    Where Do Cereals Grow?

    As wide a range as breakfast cereals there are, it also means there are various cereals, or grains, out there. Different types of cereals can grow in different environments, like all plants. Some are well-versed in surviving the frigid subarctic and Siberia, such as Barley and Rye, whilst some can withstand the ups and downs of British weather, where one moment it’s content and warm, the next it’s cold with a strong wind.

    corn-coffee-grains-wheat

    How they are cultivated is also quite diverse. They’re usually annual plants, where one would produce one yield for harvest. Though, as mentioned before, there are many different types; wheat, rye, barley, and oat, to name just a few, are “cool-season” cereals, meaning they’re hardy enough to grow in grim British weather, but not very well in anything slightly hot (30 °C, but it depends on the plant). Essentially, these plants are just like the Brit humans who grow them, once the heat gets turned on a tiny bit it suddenly becomes a chore to do just about anything.

    Wheat, one of the major cereals we use in breakfast cereals, can be cultivated in many different soils and can be grown with ease around the world. That might have something to do with the vast amount of it and the ease of obtaining it. However, to grow it successfully it requires extremely fertile soil, and that means it needs a good amount of humus content (soil that’s had slightly decayed organic stuff in it). However, barley and rye, for example, can be grown in soil that's less fertile.

    cereals-wheat

    One similarity barley and wheat do share, is that that both have a winter and a spring variety. The winter one usually produces better crops, more likely to have side shoots, and can allow new shoots to form before any cold weather comes around.

    Importance of Cereals

    But what am I talking about? As interesting as hearing about how grains are cultivated is, I bet you want to know the practicalities of breakfast cereals. What cereal can do for you and your health!

    berries-granola

    I’m being super cereal when I tell you that they’re an important part of a balanced diet. Whether you wish to believe it or not, the fact is that having breakfast in the morning is more important to your mental health than it is to your physical. Sure, you will have the energy and the boost in physical fitness from a hearty breakfast, but without it, you will most likely find yourself feeling “hangry” and a bit glum too.

    With cereals like Alpen Oat Granola, you can see they’re high in fibre, and also low in saturated fats. That is exactly what you want to be putting into your body in the early morning. Like adding fuel to a fire, adding good nutrients that can be found in cereals fuels your own body to seize the day!

    Most cereals are low-fat and full of nutrients and vitamins, such as iron and B vitamins; you also can find the power of grains within cereals, as wholegrains provide you with so many benefits it could warrant its own blog post.

    bowl-of-cereal

    Wholegrain provides you with fibre, and lots of it. An adult needs around 25 to 35 grams a day, which you can get a kick-start to with a bowl of Quaker Oats or Weetabix. Fibre has been known to control blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and actually can promote better bowel moments (gross but important). Also, due to wholegrains containing lactic acids, it allows stronger digestion, which means you absorb more of the good stuff into your body, boosting your immune system which then can help fight off nasty diseases, especially in the colon.

    Also, cereals make you feel incredibly full. So, there’s no need to have a muffin or light snacks shortly after breakfast once you’ve had a bowl of Shredded Wheat, meaning a better breakfast can help your weight too.

    When to Eat Cereals

    To make a long story short; in the morning, that moment after 8+ hours of not eating anything. Want a more detailed and serious answer? Well, there are many great times to eat breakfast, and all of them can be worked into your daily life, be it on weekends or weekdays; it all depends on what you want to gain from it. Breakfast is important for your metabolism to get kick-started, so eating it right after you wake up is a good start.

    girl-in-bed-eating-cereal

    However, if you exercise in the mornings and want a high athletic performance, then the best time to eat breakfast would be an hour or so before you hit the track. It will mean that you won’t fear any sort of cramp, and by that time the nutrients and energy from breakfast will be coursing through your body.

    Also, make sure you eat within one hour of waking up. Eating at that point allows your energy levels to go right up and gives you more energy for an active morning. Due to having been in a sleeping state for so long, your blood sugar is naturally going to be low when you first begin to rise, so eating before that 60 minute window closes means you won’t suffer a blood sugar crash.

    Where Should Cereals Be Stored?

    Now, you may know when to eat breakfast, where cereal came from, and so on; however, storing cereal is a major part. If you don’t store it right, then what happens? Nasty, manky, soft cereal that will end up getting binned, that's what. What a waste of money and food that would be, right? So, here are some quick tips to better store your cereal, which is perfect if you buy in bulk.

    mason-jar-cereal

    It’s always best to store an unopened box of cereal in a cool, dry place, such as a cupboard. For how long? Well, until the expiration date is the basic answer, but usually you can store things that way unopened for about a year; it’s at that point the taste starts to deteriorate.

    But, what if you’ve opened the cereal bag already? You don’t want air to get in and soften those Coco Pops or Honey Monster, right? Well then, just seal it with a plastic clip after rolling the top down a tad. Voila, now you can keep it this way for about a week without fear of it ruining. Either that, or store the bag, box, and all into an air-tight storage container, making sure to put it in a cool, dry place as always.

    If you follow those tips, every member of your family will have great tasting, crunchy, delicious cereal.

    cereal-spoon

    Where to Buy Cereals?

    So, where can you buy all these great tasting cereal delights? At Poundstretcher of course! We have a wide range of branded cereal products, such as Nestle, Kellogg's, Quaker Oats, and many more all with different tastes and varieties. No matter the age, we have a cereal to suit everyone!

    Why not nip on down today and stock up your cupboards with tasty cereals featuring cartoon wolves, a cockerel, or heaps and heaps of grains and fruit? Ideal for when you and your family need that fuel to get you through the start of each and every day.

    You can find your nearest Poundstretcher using our handy Store Finder! So, with your new quick guide to cereal, you can hunt out the best bargains and deck yourself and your mornings out the right way!

    morning-poundstretcher

3 Item(s)