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We’ve been researching 1990s gastropubs this week which prompted a side question: when did the phrase*‘pub grub’ come into common use?

There are a few examples of similar turns of phrase, such as this from 1924…
Burnley News, 05/05/1924, via The British Newspaper Archive. …and the Peacock Hotel, Bedford, called itself ‘The Pub for Grub’ in advertising in the 1930s (e.g.*Bedfordshire Times and Independent, 05/11/1937.) It’s kind of an obvious rhyme, really, and, as*‘pub’ was itself generally considered an uncouth contraction until as late as the 1950s, it’s possible that people were*riffing on*it verbally even if it wasn’t recorded in print.
But, those caveats aside, we reckon that the popularity*of the specific catchy unit*‘pub grub’*can be traced pretty precisely to a Brewers’ Society advertising campaign that began in 1967, an example of which, taken from The Times,*you can see above.
It was*hammered home with follow-up ads in 1968, a prominent mention in the slyly-sponsored 1969 anthology*Pub edited by Angus McGill, and by individual members of the Society in their own PR. Watney’s, for example, ran an exhibition called Pub Grub ’71 in, er, 1971.
It’s almost disappointing to discover that, like Beer is Best, this is another example of marketing people training punters to use their language. It’s also rather impressive.
Repeat After Us: Pub. Grub. from Boak & Bailey's Beer Blog - Beer blogging since 2007, covering real ale, craft beer, pubs and British beer history.