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June has many culinary-related curiosities – here are just a few of them!



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. And so here is a day-by-day look at some of the food-related oddities attributable to the month of June, a month which seems to suggest that times certainly do change!


1st – Pepper? Yes. Sgt. Pepper. Together with The Beatles he made the top of the album charts, in the UK and America, on this day in 1970.


2nd – First it was tomato ketchup and now it’s frozen battered French fries. The truth is that they’re both deemed to be ‘fresh vegetables’, as decreed on this day, in 2003, by the American authorities.


3rd – Winds of change? This was the day, in 1985, that American Health magazine published a survey disclosing that 72% of doctors believed that vegetarianism was a passing fad and wouldn’t last a decade (undoubtedly they all regarded ketchup as a vegetable, too).


4th  – Legend has it that it was on this day, back in 1070, that Roquefort cheese was invented. Or, rather, discovered, as on this occasion a nameless shepherd found that the bread and milk he’d previously abandoned had gone all cheesy – much to his delight!


5th – It was on this day, in 1977, that rock star, Alice Cooper’s, pet boa constrictor died. The live brown rat that was on the menu for breakfast fought back, inflicting numerous injuries that proved fatal to the snake.


6th – A nibble for a nibble? This was the day, in 2011, that Anish Basaar was arrested for offering sex in exchange for McNuggets in downtown San Francisco. This had been going on for a while, but it was only when she started going inside that restaurant that police moved in – and nabbed her for trespassing!


7th – It was on this day, in 1882, that the first patent for dentures appeared. American, Charles Graham, developed a design that was made of wood inset with real teeth (thus unexpectedly creating an industry amongst the poor, who were offered instant cash for their healthy teeth!).


8th – The results of a poll which was published in England on this day, in 2010, revealed that the nation’s top ‘comfort meals’ was headed by shepherd’s pie and, second, lasagne. Fish ’n’ chips came in down at number seven, being ousted by chicken curry and beef chilli, amongst others. Times have changed . . .


9th – Another sign of the times is that it’s official – the f-word is no longer offensive. This was the day, in 2011, that Australian trademark-regulators approved the snack entitled Nucking Futs (but with the proviso that it wasn’t marketed at children). The case also overturned last-year’s ruling that Nibble Nobby’s Nuts was inappropriate.


10th – On this day, in 1991, Sammy Davis Jnr. had his first ever chart song with Candy Man – no doubt because it was the theme tune for the popular movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.


11th – On this day, in 1939, the King and Queen of England travelled for the first time to America. One of the highlights of their visit was a gastronomic extravaganza where they got their first taste of the national dish– hot dogs!


12th – It was reported on this day, in 2010, that a restaurant in Finland had truly gone environmental. They’d devised a way to use electric eels, en masse in tanks, to run all their lighting – one of the more illuminating signs of the times!


13th – It’s a fair chop! Police officers stationed on the outskirts of Kathmandu were reprimanded on this day, in 2009, for running a butcher’s shop from their station. It seems that cash was scarce and ‘tea money’ was being offered to the officers in the form of livestock, and one thing just led to another.


14th – Days of Wine and Roses and Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Two amongst many golden oldies penned by the composer, Henri Mancini, who died on this day in 1994.


15th – This was the day, in 1999, that San Diego resident, Nicholas Vitalich, was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. He was enjoying a heated row with his girlfriend when he flipped, grabbed the nearest thing to hand and bashed her with it. Unfortunately, large frozen tuna fish can do some damage!


16th – “Hey buddy, pass me another Brad’s Drink will ya?” Not many people were saying that. But when North Carolinian pharmacist, Caleb Bradman, altered the name of his beverage on this day, in 1903, all that changed, and the new Pepsi Cola tasted better right away.


17th – This was the litigatious day, in 1997, that Oprah Winfrey ended up in court accused of cow-slander. It’s another sign of the times we live in that there’s a law in Texas which forbids any unpleasant references to agricultural products!


18th – In Thailand you have to be able to walk around your car without falling down to prove your sobriety. But, in England they go one better and give you a little bag to blow into. And it all started on this day, in 1965, when the ‘breathalyser’ first appeared.


19th – TV’s first game show appeared on this day, in 1949. It was called Cash ’n’ Carry and was set in an American supermarket where the sponsor’s products had questions with prizes taped to them.


20th – Jim Davis’ baby was born on this day, in 1978. He was of a ginger hue, loved lasagne and was named . . . Garfield.


21st – A still-standing record – wine at $1,800 a glass. That’s what it worked out to when a single case of 1989 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wine was sold at Sotheby’s, London, for $111,625 on this day, in 2006.


22nd – It’s rumoured that the American, Hanson Gregory, invented the doughnut on this day, in 1847. The story goes that his mother had made some fried cakes which were under-done in the middle. So young Hanson simply pinched out the middles and everyone loved ’em!


23rd –A Scottish housewife, Liz Davis, was saved by a medium-sliced Soft White Hovis loaf of bread on this day, in 2011. The heroic loaf apparently hurled itself out of her shopping bag and cushioned her head when her car collided with a lamp post.


24th – What do you call it when hundreds of people start leaping about and frothing at the mouth? No, not another Koh Pha-Ngan full-moon party but ergot poisoning, as the citizens of Aix La Chapelle discovered on this day, in 1374, after eating tainted bread.


25th – Coupons! That’s the answer to the question – ‘How do you buy $24,460 worth of groceries for only 18 cents?’ That’s what happened to American Housewife, Virginia Campbell, when she cashed in all her clipped coupons at once, on this day in 1981.


26th – One of the most legendary howlers of all time occurred on this day, in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy told the world he was a jelly doughnut. He had intended to declare that he was German at heart. But ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ means something quite different!


27th – Hardened criminals run rampant? Maybe. Because this was the day, in 2010, that the English baker, Vince Brown, had all his pies hijacked. He later shyly revealed that he was in the habit of using powdered Viagra to keep the mashed potato from going soggy. “It’s about the only thing that keeps it solid . . .”


28th – This was the day, in 1997, when Mike Tyson made boxing history by becoming the only boxer to be disqualified in a world title fight for trying to eat his opponent’s ear. This occurred in his championship bout against Evander Holyfield.


29th – Is it surprising that the first cow in America to be diagnosed with Mad Cow Disease, which happened on this day, in 2005, had been standing in the same stall in a Texas ranch for 12 years non-stop? It would have driven anyone crazy!


30th – America’s longest-missing person remains High Court Judge, Joseph Force Crater, who disappeared on this day in 1930, never to be seen again. He dined at a local restaurant then went to see a show. Afterwards he took a taxi home and simply disappeared




Rob De Wet

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