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July 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-based oddities attributable to the month of July, which seems to feature a lot of cow-related activity, for some odd reason!


1st – This was the day in 1887 that work began on ‘the world’s highest restaurant’ – the 2,000 foot-high diner at the top of Paris’s Eiffel Tower. (Interestingly this remained in the record books until 2010 when Dubai’s Burj Khalifa topped it at 2,717 feet.)


2nd – It was on this day in 1920 that the unforgettable favourite, ‘Chili Bean’ was recorded by the quickly-forgotten Frank Crumit and the Paul Biese Trio.


3rd – And, remaining in tune, Ray Davis of The Kinks made a round trip between London and New York on this day in 1970 – simply in order to change two words in a song. He was forced to alter ‘Coca Cola’ to ‘Cherry Cola’ due to an advertising ban imposed by the BBC.


4th  – Almost 10 years after the official end of World War Two, this was the day in 1954 that food rationing finally ended in England. Interestingly, the only food that hadn’t been rationed was fish ’n ’ chips!


5th – And, following the end of the war, the ‘bikini’ appeared for the first time on this day in 1946, French designer, Louis Réard, being inspired by the atomic tests on Bikini Atoll. Which is fortunate, as it could very easily have been called ‘tupper-wear’ – those little plastic boxes appeared around the same time.


6th – There’s Batman and his expletive “Holy Cow!” And the English cartoon character, Desperate Dan, with his love of giant cow pies, horns and all. So it seems logical that the cow will probably jump over the moon today as, in America, today is National Cow Day.


7th – Followed rapidly by this day being National Junk Food Day . In the USA, naturally.


8th – Lassie the Wonder Dog was very nearly a Dalmatian! The ABC network was undecided, but the Lassie package came complete with Charles Logan, who whined and woofed in all the right places on the soundtrack while the dumb Collie scampered around rescuing people (and cows too, probably), beginning on this day in 1947.


9th – This was the day in 1962 that the second-biggest refuse dump in America began to burn slowly underground and spread to local coal seams in the town of Centralia. Pennsylvania authorities were powerless to intervene and it is still going today, 50 years later.


10th – Holy Black Cow, Batman? Not to be left out, today is National Black Cow Day in America.


11th – This was the day in 2009 that Rimma Golovko insisted that a crocodile at her local zoo had snatched the phone out of her hand. Zoo keepers in the Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk were sceptical – until they heard the faint sounds of a phone ringing nearby!


12th – It was on this day in 1923 that beef dropped in Rostov, Russia. Not actually in price, but quite literally to the ground, as freak hailstones weighing up to a kilo apiece battered countless cows and put a sudden end to 23 people.


13th – –John Jacob Astor IV was born on this day in 1865. Amongst other accomplishments he went on to build the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, before his death aboard the Titanic in 1912.


14th – Liquid rocket fuel was patented in on this day in 1914, by the American, Robert Goddard. It’s more than possible that he had spent time in Thailand, where he’d no doubt studied in detail the effects of that volatile whiskey named Mekong!


15th – This was the day in 1977 that a Miller Beer executive was fined in Milwaukee for ‘sexually harassing’ a co-worker by repeatedly talking to her in ‘lewd terms’. His defended himself by arguing that he could never remember her name, other than it rhymed with a ‘female body part’. She, however, strongly objected to being referred to as ‘Miss Hunt’ or ‘Miss Gripple’.


16th – Kissing was made illegal in England on this day in 1439. King Henry VI believed that the Great Plague was spreading due to such widespread acts of ‘wanton and lewd affection’. Fortunately eating and drinking escaped the ban!


17th – Remember the song ‘Buttered Popcorn’? Not many do. But the name of the group is a different matter. This was the first recording made by The Supremes and released on this day in 1961.


18th – 21 people were shot dead and 19 injured in a San Ysidro, California McDonald's by James Oliver Huberty, who had told his wife as he was leaving that he was “hunting humans”. The killings only ended when he was fatally shot by a SWAT team sniper.


19th – Today is ‘Flitchday’ in the village of Dunmow, Essex. A side of bacon (a ‘flitch’) is offered to any couple who’ve been married for a year, if they can somehow prove that they’ve never wished to be single again during this time – a tradition that’s been going since 1104.


20th – ‘Why?’, ‘what for?’, ‘what on earth did he do with it?’, are questions that have remained unanswered since this day in 1801, when a ball of cheese weighing 1,235 pounds, was presented to American president Thomas Jefferson.


21st – Remaining cheesy, this was the day in 1957 that the International Cheese Treaty was formulated in The Hague: ‘an International Convention on the Use and Designations of Origins and Names for Cheeses.’ So now you know.


22nd – It was on this day in 2010 that Thai Airways, introduced a range of its ready-packed in-air flight-meals to take away. Seven different polystyrene-packed ‘meals’ went on sale in Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Pie in the sky? No, it’s true, I swear


23rd –Drano, Domestos, Band-Aid, Y-Front, Bobbit. All household names, especially since this day in 1993. This was when John Bobbit discovered the kitchen knife. He didn’t actually invent it; more he came across it in the close vicinity of what remained of his person.


24th – This was the most excellent occasion, just one year ago, when Florida police arrested a man in a motorised wheelchair who had become bogged-down in sand . . . right next to the supermarket he had just robbed at knifepoint. John Champion was sitting and quietly drinking a Bud Light Lime when the officers arrived.


25th – He should have stayed at home with the Beer Bot, introduced on this day in 2010. Created by American, Ryan Rusnak, it’s a compact fridge that’s controlled by means of an iPhone program, which shoots cans of beer across the room and into the arms of any suitably-equipped football-watching couch potato!


26th – This was the occasion in 2011 that a 3-year-old American girl sleep-walked a mile to a store in the middle of the night through freshly-fallen snow, believing that her mother was inside buying pizza. An employee found the girl crying outside the Maine shop at 4:00 am and called 911, thus averting what might have turned into a tragedy.


27th –“Err ... wassup doc?” An imponderable question that Elmer Fudd is today still puzzling over, even though the carrot-munching Bugs Bunny posed it for the first time on this day in 1940.


28th – An enterprising reporter made the front page with pictures of an egg frying on the steps of The Whitehouse, on this day in 1944, as temperatures in Washington rose to 48°C.


29th – Keep on going! Don’t stop. Today is National Drive-Thru Day in America!


30th – Denis Diderot, died on this day in 1784. He was a leading figure in the French ‘Age of Enlightenment’ movement – although he choked on an apricot which his wife had warned him not to eat. His last enlightened words were, “How the devil will it hurt me?”


31th – This was the day in 1869 that thousands of small chunks of what appeared to be flesh, bone and hide fell from the skies and covered a huge area of coastal California. Scientists remain puzzled, even to this day.




Rob De Wet

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