M&S Hamper Heritage

At M&S Corporate Gifts, gift hampers are a crucial part of the strategy we offer our clients to help them meet their objectives; whether it’s to acquire new customers, encourage staff loyalty or retain existing clients.

The gift hamper can be filled with a variety of goodies, including delicious cakes, pudding & pantry foods, confectionary, biscuits & savoury treats and a superb selection of wine, spirits and drinks tailored to the receiver’s tastes.

While the contents of hampers may have changed over time, the reasons behind giving a hamper as a gift have generally remained the same. Take a trip through time with us as we delve into the rich heritage of the hamper.

11th century ‘Hanapier’

The origins of the word ‘Hamper’ comes from the French word, ‘Hanapier’, meaning ‘a case for goblets’. The French had used hampers made from willow to carry food and drink on long hunting expeditions or journeys. It was William the Conqueror who is said to have discovered these magnificent hampers and brought the very first one to England in the 11th Century, where they were often used to transport delicacies for travelling noblemen and women.

The rise of the picnic hamper

Following the French Revolution in 1789, picnicking became a popular social activity as royal parks became open to the public for the very first time. During the early 19th Century, a group of fashionable young people from London caught hold of the idea and formed the ‘Picnic Society’, where members would meet up in the Pantheon on Oxford Street, bringing with them a hamper of food and drink to contribute to the picnic.

Hampers of a life line during times of war

Hampers have long been used as a sign of good will and support to troops fighting in wars across the world. During the Napoleonic Wars of the 1800s, troops fighting alongside the Duke of Wellington were sent charitable hampers containing honey and dried fruit to keep their spirits up.

Later on during the Crimean War, Queen Victoria was in correspondence with Florence Nightingale, who reported to the queen details of brutal conditions and limited supplies. Queen Victoria was shocked to hear how bad things really were, so she sent Florence Nightingale and the British Troops hampers containing beef tea, Windsor soap and other provisions to ease their suffering.

The Victorians and Christmas gift hampers

The Victorians were the first to embrace the gift hamper as a Christmas gift. Traditionally, wealthy families would put together a hamper containing seasonal foods and drinks as well as clothes to give to their staff, ensuring that they were able to have an enjoyable Christmas with their families.

Due to the Industrial Revolution, transport became much more sophisticated, meaning that the fresh foods stored in hampers could be delivered much more easily as they would arrive at their destination more quickly. This advancement meant Hampers were now being sent as gifts throughout much of the country.

The gift hamper today

Today, gift hampers are still sent with the same intention as they were many years ago. People send hampers to thank, congratulate or simply show love to one another.

The gift hamper is not just sent to family and friends, but used in the corporate world to build stronger business connections, reward loyal clients and thank hard-working staff for their efforts.

It’s not just a hamper, it’s an M&S hamper

Since 1884 we have been committed to delivering value for our stakeholders and making every moment special with our quality products.

Quality, innovation and choice are the hallmarks of our food, with our commitment to products that deliver value setting us apart and making our hampers so iconic.

Treat your clients and staff to a present from one of Britain’s best loved retailers, with discounts for bulk orders. Send us an enquiry and order your hamper today.