If you're dreading the burnt spuds and gas shortages that always circle round at dinnertime on Christmas Day, spare a thought for the poor soul charged with the task of baking a seven foot tall Christmas pudding for the King.
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. Featuring Canadian and Australian wheat and sultanas, cinnamon from India, cloves from East Africa, nutmeg and spices from the West Indies, candied peel from South Africa, not to mention brandy and rum from Cyprus, Palestine and Jamaica among others, the king's pudding was a truly international affair.
It was November 1928. The King was seriously ill with septicaemia. 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.
The mixture, made entirely of empire ingredients, was split into a dozen bowls that members of the public queued 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 empire ingredients, 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 Theatre 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.