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Fraud/Fakes/Falsehoods/Fakirs

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Flash
308059.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 5:50 am Reply with quote

I think this looks pretty promising, so I'd just add a reminder that the notes ought to have something on mock turtle soup (and suchlike) because everyone will have encountered the Mock Turtle from Alice, but perhaps not everyone will know what he's about.

I say "everyone" but I'm in the office today and actually they all just said they'd read Alice but none of them recalled the Mock Turtle, so maybe I'm wrong about that.

 
eggshaped
308070.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:02 am Reply with quote

I've never read Alice, but am aware of the Mock Turtle.

 
Flash
308076.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:10 am Reply with quote

That's perverse, but encouraging.

 
MatC
308078.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:12 am Reply with quote

Just a note: I did a load of stuff on giant tortoises - edibility thereof - for the animal ignorance book; some amazing stuff, can post if needed.

 
eggshaped
308080.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:12 am Reply with quote

This all links with the fake-margarine stuff...

 
Flash
308118.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:48 am Reply with quote

Quite right. Maybe there's a line of enquiry about all those recipes that were put out by the Ministry of Food during the War about how to make familiar dishes out of turnips and old socks and what-not.

 
MatC
308119.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:50 am Reply with quote

This started when a reader wrote to me at FT asking if the “wooden pips” story was true. I’d never heard of it, and very much doubted it, but printed it as a Mythchaser in my column. Here are the letters in response from readers, these all taken from FT210:

Quote:
As a student at London University in the mid-1970s, I remember being told by an acquaintance that his father owned a factory that made the 'pips' that went into cheap, supermarket own-brands of raspberry jam. They were apparently made of some kind of soft wood. He seemed to find the whole thing hilarious, but said the 'pips' had made his father a rich man. I never got to know him well, so I have no way of knowing whether or not he was telling the truth.


Quote:
My father always claimed that during World War II raspberry jam was largely made from marrow or apple pulp with wooden chips added to look like pips. I don't know about the pips, but he was right about marrows and apple pulp. Even today one can find fruit pulp as an ingredient in cheap jam. However, in Victorian Britain there were factories which were dyeing sand and wood chippings to look like red clover seed and others killing [sic] turnip seed, which was cheap and indistinguishable from cabbage seed. Add 2cwt of these cheap impurities to 5cwt of expensive clover or cabbage seed and you have 7cwt of seed to sell to customers at the high price. This was revealed in a commission of enquiry into seed quality and led directly to the 1869 Adulteration of Seed Act (which was valueless as it did not set up any means of policing the act). So, if they were producing fake seeds just maybe they were also producing fake raspberry pips.


Quote:
According to a report on food adulteration by Felicity Lawrence in The Guardian (17 May 2003): "Sylvia Pankhurst gave as an example of sweated labour in her 1931 book, The Suffragette Movement, the work of women whose job it was to rub minute pieces of wood into seed shapes so they could be added to raspberry jam made without the aid of raspberries. Outraged, she opened a factory making jam from real fruit at affordable prices to create jobs for pacifist women during the first world war. After the second world war, fruit squashes entirely devoid of real fruit were made with sugar, citric acid and flavours. Starch was added to give the impression of cloudiness created by fruit, chopped cellulose imitated pith, and tiny bits of wood were made to look like pips."


Quote:
My grandfather, who was born in 1887, claimed that as a child he had a Saturday job in a jam factory in the Exeter Street/Erasmus Street area of Derby - a triangle of land between the River Derwent and the Derby Canal, where there were a number of small factories, all long since demolished. He said that he and other kids were employed to put 'pips' into jam, the jam being made of rhubarb, which does turn pink when cooked and was cheaper and more readily available than raspberries. The pips were actually tiny splinters of wood, one step up from sawdust, presumably, and not something you'd want a hefty mouthful of, but no less likely to stick to your teeth than the real thing, I imagine. My grandfather grew up to be a highly respectable wholesale grocer - with a mischievous sense of humour. I also remember being told at school that years ago British rhubarb was used to prop up the French champagne industry when grapes were in short supply. This may well have been a myth, but standards were a lot less finicky then than they are now.

 
MatC
308121.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:50 am Reply with quote

Quote:
We ate different things during the war. We would pick elderberries and dry them slowly in the oven, they served as currants in cakes, not very tasty. My mother made loads of jam mostly damson, rhubarb and ginger was really nice. My favourite was shop bought strawberry and raspberry - very rarely bought. When I said I liked it better my mother said that it was made from turnips and coloured with cochineal. When I pointed out that it had pips I was told there was a factory making wooden pips out of sawdust! But I still liked the jam.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/89/a3789589.shtml

 
MatC
308130.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:59 am Reply with quote

Memoirs of a Canadian nurse after WW2:

Quote:
Imagine a solitary young nurse scurrying along to the silent dining room for dinner at 2am - shivering in her thin cotton uniform. Not surprising, most nurses stayed on the comparatively cosy wards all night. Snacking in ward kitchens on stale bread spread with margarine and a mushy "suspiciously red” jam full of wooden pips (How else could there be fruit pips without fruit?). 1949/50 were still austerity years and hospital jam arrived in big tins starkly labelled JAM - probably made from swedes, apples, and a strong red dye.


S: http://www.crcmh.com/cadet.htm

 
Flash
308133.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:01 am Reply with quote

So it seems to have been quite widely believed, at least - and the bit about Mrs Pankhurst is v good because 1) everyone has heard of her, 2) if she went so far as to open a factory to address the problem then it must have been for real and 3) it means we don't have to assert it as fact - we can quote her.

 
Flash
308139.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:07 am Reply with quote

Jenny, if you're out there: can you just elucidate the use of the word "jelly" in the US (just a one-liner for the note - Stephen will probably know this anyway).

 
MatC
308151.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:12 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Quite right. Maybe there's a line of enquiry about all those recipes that were put out by the Ministry of Food during the War about how to make familiar dishes out of turnips and old socks and what-not.


I've got some stuff on that if needed.

 
MatC
308159.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:21 am Reply with quote

Related to that Home Front cooking stuff - I’ve always been interested in the idea that “people were much healthier during the War”. It's a story people love to believe, but for different reasons in different generations, as fashionable ideas about what is and isn't healthy come and go. Today you’ll hear people putting it forward as an argument for not overeating, cutting back on meat and animal fats, eating simple home cooked food, having an allotment, and all that trendy stuff. But originally, in the 1940s when people first started saying this, it was an argument in favour of rationing, egalitarianism, full employment, and all the class-levelling which went with Total War. In those (left-wing) days, people believed that health was determined by the distribution of collective resources; in these (right-wing) days, people believe that health is determined by the good behaviour of individuals. In those days, “being healthy” was something a society could choose, collectively; today, “being healthy” is something consumers can choose, individually.

Apart from anything else, I just wonder if it’s true? Were people healthier, whatever that means, during WW2? One figure would be pretty cut and dried: life expectancy. It’d be quite a nice note if life expectancy went up during the Blitz ... !

 
MatC
308167.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:26 am Reply with quote

Quote:
Round our way in Norfolk they grew the carrots for the mock-raspberry jam, and there was even a factory making the fake wooden pips! (Not an apocryphal tale.) But swede jam - yeuch. Glad that wasn't still around when I was a child.


http://my.telegraph.co.uk/june/september_2007/make_do_and_mend_days_.htm

 
MatC
308168.  Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:28 am Reply with quote

I dunno, though ... would they really have had whole factories devoted to wooden pips? Rather than just a section of the jam factory itself?

As Flash says, we don’t have to claim it’s true thanks to Mrs P. I would like to find just one more respectable source, even so ...

 

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