We've already seen 21st century revivals of 1970s classics Starsky & Hutch, The Dukes of Hazzard and Shaft and heard most of the fresh-faced young bands of the moment plunder the sounds of chart-toppers from the decade such as the Bee Gees, The Undertones and 10CC.

Now some of the great grocery brands of the era seem to be staging a comeback as manufacturers try to appeal to that key demographic of 30 to 45-year-olds. First they brought back the classic sweets of the era. This time, they're eyeing the products that the parents of today's middle youth once hankered after. Think Smash, Spam, Brut, Mateus, Blue Nun and Cinzano.

There's an element of kitsch to it all, of course, but that's only half the story. Many of the brands enjoying a revival are doing so because manufacturers have recognised that trends are cyclical and there's a gap in the market for old favourites. Moreover, there's an opportunity to improve on those old favourites - whether by enhancing the product itself or its image. Many are also successfully tapping into new trends such as premium and organic.

Cynics would add that real innovation in the grocery industry is drying up - and that reviving tired old classics is much less risky than launching a totally new brand. Intriguingly, much of the current focus seems to be on alcoholic drinks.

Earlier this year Cinzano - the brand made famous by ads starring Reggie Perrin actor Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins - brought out its first brand extension in 144 years. Spritzz Up is aimed at the ready-to-drink fixture but it still requires a mixer. The drink, once popular in the 70s, is being launched as part of a strategy to capture a new generation of UK drinkers.

Karen Crowley, the UK marketing manager for the Spritzz Up extension, says the new launch is innovating in an entirely new category. "Spritzz Up offers a high-quality alternative to RTDs or alcopops with a more accessible taste than conventional wine," she says.

Others are not planning to reinvent but to remind. Cocktail drinkers of the 70s could hardly avoid a sense of déjà-vu if they happened to see the latest TV advertising by soft drink producer Schweppes. The brand owner of ginger ale, cola and bitter lemon mixers is taking full advantage of the growing popularity of at-home cocktail making with nostalgic adverts that hark back to 70s drinks parties.

Other classic drink brands are looking to reinvent themselves. Blue Nun, the sweet German Liebfraumilch wine brand, an icon of the 70s dinner party, got a facelift last year with a new label design and even a new modern nun image on its logo.

Mateus, the classic rosé brand, rolled out a £1.2m national TV advertising campaign this year to take advantage of the growing interest in this pink wine variant, another unexpected resurgent brand from the 70s.

Another brand cashing in on nostalgia is Constellation Wines' Babycham. Vice president of brands marketing Clare Griffiths says: "The popularity of a recent on-pack promotion, which gave our consumers the chance to collect original Babycham glasses, proved how key the history and nostalgia surrounding this iconic brand are to current consumers."

There's also talk of an at-home cocktail renaissance in the drinks industry. Though it may not spark a full-scale return to kitsch cocktail paraphernalia, despite reports of a sales growth for cocktail shakers and various liqueurs, it gives an indication of what may be to come.

Rupert Wilkins, chairman at liqueur distributor Malcolm Cowen, says the idea of creating simple cocktails at home is on the increase, following on from trends in bars. "We are seeing a revival of the old favourites. Earlier this year two whisky brands were relaunched, Sheep Dip and Pig's Nose. Mixed with ginger beer and lime, the latter is a key ingredient in the classic Ginger Pig cocktail."

Wilkins says the company has also recorded good sales of crème de cassis - a key ingredient in the classic Kir Royale - and Wolfschmidt Kummel, which is used to make the Silver Bullet cocktail.

The importer also launched the Danish speciality Kirsberry this summer, a cherry liqueur popular in the 70s.

And what about cider? The whole category has undergone a renaissance. Back in the 70s, it might have been popular, but it was hardly considered a classy drink.

The category is now growing ahead of lager in the off-trade, up 6.4% in the year to October 2005 [ACNielsen] compared with a 1.7% increase for lager thanks to a new element of sophistication and a few lumps of ice. Recently we have seen the premium makeovers of classic brands such as Addlestones, Merrydown and Bulmers.

Beyond the drinks aisles, other classic brands are getting involved in the retro revival. Spam featured in its first TV ads for 63 years last year, and it has been boldly reinventing itself ever since (Stinky French Garlic flavour is its latest incarnation).

Smash is another brand laden with nostalgia. Brand owner Premier Foods has brought out flavour variants and updated advertising over the years and is now poised to totally relaunch the brand in the next few months - with the much-loved robotic Martians still playing their role as brand ambassadors. A spokesperson admits that they're too key to the brand to be given the heave-ho.

Fox's Confectionery is also getting stuck in by giving its Poppets brand a retro makeover, with packaging that incorporates iconic 1970s items such as a Rubik's Cube and a space hopper. Crisp brand ­Ringos is another to appear back on shelf after fans campaigned for its return.

It's clear that the brands using marketing to drive nostalgia, and the ones able to laugh at their own retro image, are the ones seeing success. Babycham, for instance, has developed a cult following among university students. "Nostalgia plays an important part in Babycham's marketing strategy," says Griffiths.

With the 70s revival in full swing, it can only be a matter of time before we hit the 80s. In fact, the revival may already have started. Look at Phileas Fogg. Originally a top-end adult snacking option, brand owner UBUK waited until our love for all things premium reached optimum levels before bringing the bagged snack back with more exotic flavours.

Let's hope we're not poised for a revival of the 90s favourite, the alcopop, just yet. n