Christmas season can be stressful, especially if you're the one in charge of cooking all the holiday meals. But if you're dreading the hours spent in the kitchen next week, think about this bizarre story from history and be thankful that you're not tasked with making a seven foot tall Christmas batch of pudding for the King of England!
In a bid to show support and encourage trade within the British Empire, the recipe for the king's Christmas pudding, devised by the King's chef, Andre Cedard, was released to the public in 1926. The ingredients were harvested from all over the world:
- Canadian and Australian wheat and grapes
- Cinnamon from India
- Cloves from East Africa
- Nutmeg and spices from the West Indies
- Candied peel from South Africa
- Brandy and rum from Cyprus, Palestine and Jamaica
Cooking pudding with fancy ingredients doesn't seem all that hard, but things took a turn for the absurd in November of 1928.
The King was seriously ill with an infection, and to lift his spirits, something grand was planned. It was decided that a Christmas pudding, weighing one ton and standing seven feet tall, would be cooked in his name at the Cookery and Food Exhibition at Olympia exhibition hall in West London.
The mixture, made entirely of ingredients harvested from the British empire, was split into a dozen bowls that members of the public lined up to stir. The whole process was watched over by one Mr. S. Knott, who appeared each day donning a chef's "sugar loaf hat", and 12 young women who helped instruct the public.
The mixture, made entirely of ingredients from the British empire, was split into a dozen bowls that members of the public queued to stir
Women, soldiers and boy scouts joined the lines waiting to do their bit for the king. "You must wish before you stir" one woman is reported to have said to her friend. "I know", said her companion. "And I wish His Majesty a quick recovery."
The pudding was mixed dry, with 3.5 gallons of Jamaican rum and 28 gallons of beer added later, presumably when the crafty ones in the general public were safely dispersed. On the last day of the exhibit the mixture was cooked in 100 sections, before being assembled at the Empire Demonstration Theater on December 1st. The pudding was then split into portions to be sent to hospitals and charities. It reportedly fed 7000 people.
The pudding was mixed dry, with 3.5 gallons of Jamaican rum and 28 gallons of beer added later
The Empire Marketing Board released a number of prints and films to encourage international trade. One of the films, One Family, told the story of a London schoolboy who dreams of travelling the world to collect ingredients for the king's pudding.