The history of gift hampers

March 10, 2021

The delight of opening a hamper of goodies for Christmas, birthdays or another celebration isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, gifting hampers is a tradition which stretches back over many centuries, with the first recorded hampers being created in the 1000s! How amazing is that?!

With a pedigree stretching back hundreds of years, it's no surprise that hampers continue to be a fail safe option when it comes to sending presents to loved ones, family members and friends. Gift hampers are pretty much guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face.

These days, you can find almost anything in a hamper. At the Awesome Hamper Company, we have an exciting range of hampers filled with delights including sweet treats and chocolates - however, originally, hampers had a more practical use.

In fact, historically, hampers were used as an easy way to transport food and drink products on long journeys, or to give to impoverished people as a form of charity. It is believed that hampers were originally introduced to Great Britain by the French in the 11th century, when they were filled with food and drink, and even clothing. Quite often these hampers were given to poor families as a charitable act by wealthy people.

In the days before cars, trains and planes, the easiest way to get around the country was with a horse and carriage. If you were wealthy, you had your own carriage and as a result, you could afford to fill your mode of transport with luxuries and goodies to keep you going on the journey. As a result, wealthy travellers often brought a hamper with them - think of it as an early lunch box! For those who weren’t quite as wealthy, they could still hitch a ride on a ‘Stage Coach’ (an early form of public transport), and bring a basket of food and drink along for the ride

gift hampers

Gifting hampers became super popular thanks to the Victorians (another invention they gave us!). Coinciding with the emergence of train travel and the opening of the railways up and down the country, it suddenly became much easier to transport perishable food and drink products from town to town. People were no longer replying on the slow horse and carriages of previous decades… in fact, thanks to the railways you could get from one end of the country to the other in a fraction of the time! Plus, when the first penny stamps became available in 1840, it became much easier and efficient to send friends and relatives gifts - particularly if they didn’t live nearby. Ultimately, people began to pack up hampers with all sorts of goodies and treats, before sending them on the train to be gifted to someone special. And that tradition continues to this very day!

The title of the most famous hampers in the world goes to luxury food and drink shop, Fortnum & Mason. This London based shop, which apparently services the royal family, has been creating their popular luxury hampers since the 1730s. Full of high end products, including champagne and caviar, these hampers are literally the creme de la creme of the hamper world, and historically have an upper crust reputation. Fortnum & Mason hampers are sent to every corner of the globe as people long to have a slice of an upper class British tradition - a Fortnum & Mason hamper even made its way up Mount Everest in the 1920s!

With a history dating back over 900 years, we have no doubt that hampers will continue to reign supreme when it comes to presents and gifts… just watch this space though, as we have a sneaking suspicion they’ll get more and more

chocolate gift hampers

me goes on!

Check out our full range of chocolate gift hampers and thousands of other gifts here.

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