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April has many culinary-related curiosities – here’s just a few of them!

 

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You 'd never believe some of the strange stories about food. It’s not all ancient history, either, and today, there are some truly bizarre tales to be told regarding food in all of its aspects. So here is a day-by-day look at some of the food-related oddities attributable to the month of April. And this month features more than a few ‘nuts’ of different sorts!

 

1st – It’s ‘April Fool’s Day’, and possibly the most-legendary spoof, ever, occurred on this day in 1957. The straight-laced host of England’s TV current-affairs program, Panorama, fooled many Brits when he ran a feature disclosing that this was a bumper year for the ‘Swiss spaghetti harvest’, and even showed footage of farmers picking the ripe spaghetti from the trees. The BBC’s switchboard was later jammed with viewers wanting to know where to buy spaghetti plants. You can still see this video on You Tube.

 

2nd – Lingering in the UK, this was the day, in 1959, that The Coasters’ record, ‘Charlie Brown’, was banned by BBC radio due to a line about ‘throwin’ spitballs’.

 

3rd – The trawler, Fine Fare, was driven ashore in Port Herring, Scotland, after a gale demolished the town’s lighthouse, on this day in 1851.

 

4th  – Live on TV and in front of millions of viewers, an advertising executive, Robert Opal, streaked naked across the stage at the annual Oscar Awards Ceremony, on this day in 1982. He was later probably charged with disturbing the peace and disrupting digestion.

 

5th – TThe Spice Girls held their first-ever concert, at the Glasgow Astoria, on this day in 1994

 

6th – ‘Waltzing Matilda’ premiered on this day in 1885. It’s essentially all about an Aussie who goes walkabout and dines on kangaroos, amongst other things.

 

7th – This was the day, in 2011, that Cuba’s national press was enthralled by Yeti, the farm dog who had adopted a litter of 14 orphaned piglets on a farm in the eastern province of Camaguey. “They follow her around just like puppies,” said farmer, Eida Fernandes.

 

8th – On this day, in 1963, Time Magazine published its first-ever cover which didn’t feature a living celebrity. Instead, it showed the cartoon cast of Charles M Schulz’s ‘Peanuts’ comic strip.

 

The English Chemist, William Prout, passed away on this day in 1950. It was he who first identified the three main food components: carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

 

 

10th – Pigless, alas! This was the day, in 2010, that Montana’s Great Falls ‘Fourth Annual Pig Wrestling Festival’ was cancelled due to a shortage of available pigs. They should have gone to Cuba!

 

11th – The Kellogg’s factory in Michigan stopped giving its guided tours, on this day in 1988. It seems that breakfast-food spies (disguised as normal people) had been stealing their ideas.

 

12th – And, talking of Peanuts, this was the day, in 1950, which saw the very-first published appearance of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy and the rest of the crowd.

 

13th – What is it that eats 30 lbs of curried rice a day and enjoys all kinds of wine and spirituous liquors? Why, the first elephant to be seen in America, of course. And it first appeared on this day, in 1797, in New York.

 

14th – The ‘world’s largest restaurant’, together with the rest of the Titanic, took its fatal nosedive on this day in 1912.

 

15th – And, it being somewhat after midnight, this was now the day that John Jacob Astor, builder of The Waldorf Astoria Hotel and a passenger on the Titanic, accompanied the mighty liner to its watery grave.

 

16th –The ‘Pride of Kent’ apple which bounced off Sir Isaac Newton’s head didn’t earn him his knighthood on this day, in 1705, rather it was the ensuing publication of his ‘Theory Of Universal Gravitation’ that made him a ‘Sir’.

 

17th – Nicolas Welch appeared in court in Kingsholt, England, on this day in 2009. His insatiable lust for Marmite had compelled him to steal the entire stock from his local supermarket over an eight-day period. But when he returned for more supplies, the police were waiting ...

 

18th – Pigmeat Markham is not a name that rings a lot of bells, but it came to the attention of the international public when he had an international hit with ‘Here Come da Judge’ in 1968. He was born on this day back in 1904.

 

19th – Americans everywhere are today holding their breath, as over there it’s ‘National Garlic Day’.

 

20th – This was the day, in 2009, on which the horrified staff of a Detroit restaurant witnessed a man, covered in blood and with a knife sticking out of his chest, calmly sit down and order coffee. It was later revealed that he’d been mugged and was awaiting the arrival of an ambulance!

 

21st – There’s a lot of nuts in the USA this month as, in addition to those comic characters, today it’s ‘National Chocolate Covered Cashews Day’.

 

22nd – Whilst on the subject of nuts, this was the legendary evening in 2008 that the controversial host of UK’s Top Gear motoring program, Jeremy Clarkson, found a new use for all those now-redundant American V-8 engines. He put together a 6-litre, 436 horsepower food blender and, live on TV, successfully liquidised a whole leg of pork together with a bottle of Tabasco sauce and two house bricks. What a pity he didn’t

 

23rd – Few can lay claim to having been born and having died on the same day, particularly so if the two events were 52 years apart! But the man who penned “Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers” can – William Shakespeare’s particular years being 1564 and 1616 respectively.

 

24th – Throughout the years of WW11, there were only two foodstuffs not rationed in England, and these were fish ’n’ chips and … whale meat! Rationing finally ended in the UK on this day in 1949.

 

25th – This was the day, in 2011, that the jealously-enraged James O’Daley tried to run-down his wife by ramming his truck into the Las Vegas The Pancake House restaurant where she worked as a waitress. Nobody was hurt, although a lot of food appeared to have been flattened in the attempt.

 

26th – McDonald’s opened its largest branch in the world, in Beijing, on this day in 1992. It catered for 800 diners and had 1,000 staff.

 

27th – This was the day, in 2011, that a Sacramento teacher was disciplined for demanding snacks from his students. For the previous 26 years, George Parrot had insisted that his psychology class at California State University turned up with nibbles as a “means to working collectively together.” But he went too far when he took offense at finding no snacks at all and walked out of the room.

 

28th – On this day, in 2005, police responded to a call from a New Mexico school claiming a student had been seen with a gun. The ‘suspect’ later disclosed a 30-inch model of a burrito wrapped in silver foil – his current art assignment!

 

29th – A Chinese farmer, Ma Xiuling, discovered a remarkable tortoise-shaped potato, on this day in 2010 on his farm in Yanji, northeast China. It was about the size of a two-week-old puppy, had four similarly-sized round ‘feet’, a ‘body’ and a ‘head’. Mr. Xiuling said the potato originally also had a tail, but it snapped off when he dug it up.

 

30th –30th – This was the day, in 2011, that Mexican officials banned an illicit remake of the popular children’s computer game, ‘Mamma in the Kitchen’. Police in Tijuana swooped to impound the offending items, objecting that they had been dubbed in Spanish and ‘Adultized’ with an evil Mama who was thirsty for blood!

 

 

 

Rob De Wet


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