Monday, 21 October 2013

Call My Sausage

To fill in the long gap for all you sausage fans out there eagerly awaiting the launch of British Sausage Week on November 1st, I thought we might while away the long hours of waiting with a little fun quiz. This is a kind of sausage version of “Call My Bluff” or if you prefer, a “True or False” of sausage facts.

In my tireless capacity as Official VIP Taster for Love Pork I feel it is only my duty to entertain you with endless articles on the subject, hence here I present to you 10 facts about sausages! However – only four of them are true! The other six I have made up! Using your skill and judgement, can you identify which are true and which are false? To help you I have given my opinion on each "FACT" below.

No googling please, let’s make this a fair playing field.

So, without further ado, here we go:

1) The world record for the longest sausage ever made is held by J J Tranfield who made it on behalf of Asda in Sheffield in October 2000. It measured a whopping 36.75 miles in length.

THE SAUSAGE MAN’S VERDICT: Personally I find this quite hard to believe. After all how can you make a 36 mile sausage in Sheffield? Bend it around all the streets? Surely it would break. I guess you could head off down the M1 with it trailing behind a slow moving truck but you’d be past Nottingham before you finished. And I can’t imagine it would get all that way without someone stopping off for a sneaky free bite, which let’s face it, someone is bound to do bearing in mind the outrageous prices charged at Tibshelf Services. 

2) Sausages became known as bangers during the First World War. Officers on Zeppelin airships who had taken sausage sandwiches up to high altitude to keep them going during long trips discovered that they exploded at high altitude. Due to the risk of this puncturing the ships, sausages were subsequently banned and crewmembers were allowed only sauerkraut for the duration of the hostilities.

VERDICT: Seems a little far-fetched to me, but then I have heard other people say that they were called bangers because during the second world war they had a lot of water in them due to meat shortages which sounds equally unlikely, so who knows what is to be believed?

3) The world record for the number of sausages eaten in one minute is “8”, set by New Zealander Stefan Paladin in 2001. The sausages were 10cm long and 2cm wide.

VERDICT: Well all I can say to that is anyone who was ever on a darts, pool or Aunt Sally team with me at any point in the last twenty years will know that Stefan would be quaking in his boots if he ever came face to face with me in the stampede for the after match food.

Me, preparing for an assault on the world record!

4) The McDonalds that we all know could have been very different, had it not been for a strike at the local sausage making plant in San Bernardino, California, where Richard and his brother Ronald set up the first McDonalds outlet in 1940. They had planned this to be the first in an empire of Hot Dog bars stretching across the world, but on the day of launch were unable to obtain any sausages due to a 3 week long strike halting production over protests at the introduction of a “new-fangled” sausage making machine putting workers out of jobs. In their desperation they decided to make hamburgers instead and the American dream was born.

VERDICT: Sounds reasonable enough, even though it’s hard to take any business decision taken by Ronald seriously bearing in mind his insistence on wearing that clown costume to scare kids away for decades, but then maybe Richard was the brains behind the operation.

5) Although it has generally been believed that sausages date from around 5,000 years ago, some recent cave paintings found suggest that they may have been around much longer. These paintings found in Lascaux in France depict ancient man millions of years ago slaying dinosaurs and making sausages out of them.

VERDICT: Hmmm…very suspect, largely due to the classic mistake of imagining man to have been around at the same time as the dinosaurs. I think maybe whoever came up with this one had been watching too many episodes of “The Flintstones”. If it is true the most likely explanation is that it was in fact Wooly Mammoth sausages they were making and the artist just couldn't draw them very well so they've been mistaken for dinosaurs.

6) In Scotland, sausages can in fact be Square! Yes, apparently in Scotland there is a type of sausage known as “Lorne Sausage” which is square and apparently named after a Scottish comedian of the early 20th century. Not only that, it is 3 inches square which makes even our chip shop jumbos looks like chipolatas. They don’t do things by half up there!

VERDICT: Why would anyone want a square sausage? It sounds ridiculous to me. But we are talking about the country that gave us the Deep Fried Mars bar so credit where it is due, innovation is always to be admired, especially of the highly calorific content.

7) Legendary rocker Alice Cooper once shocked an audience back in the late 1960’s by biting the head off a sausage, live on stage! This infamous incident led directly to his “hellraiser image” which persists to this day.

VERDICT: Quite what is so shocking about eating a sausage on stage is beyond me, but then it was nearly half a century ago and we are much more relaxed about things these days. Maybe he didn’t use a knife and fork or something.

8) It is a little known fact that when the World Cup was stolen in London in 1966, Pickles the dog who famously found the cup had more than a little help by the fact that it had a string of sausages wrapped around it. As anyone who ever read the Dandy or the Beano as a kid will know, dogs love to run off with a long trail of sausages in their mouth. The story goes that the villains who nicked the cup also nicked the local butcher’s van to spirit it away in, however, when the police gave chase, they threw it out of the back of the van into some bushes. At some point whilst it was in there it got a trail of sausages wrapped around it, and that is what attracted Pickles to drag it out of the bush. This wasn’t mentioned during his subsequent knighthood and life peerage as it was felt it might detract from his achievement if turned out he wasn’t that bothered about saving the world after all but just trying to snaffle some sausages.

VERDICT: This actually sounds quite plausible to me. After all, would a dog really be that interested in a gleaming gold trophy? Most of the ones I have seen seem more interested in sniffing other dog’s bottoms and wouldn’t recognise a solid gold extremely valuable trophy unless it was covered in some sort of meat and I am not sure if Pedigree Chum had been invented back then, and even if it had, who would smear it on the World Cup? No, I think the sausage theory is highly likely.

9) In 2009, a UK Supermarket launched the “Berry Banger” during the height of summer to cash in on the height of the English summer season of Wimbledon, Henley and Royal Ascot. This “Strawberry and Cream” flavoured sausage did not find favour with critics and has long since disappeared.

VERDICT: Whilst I was judging the entries for the 2013 British Sausage awards I did come across some interesting flavour combinations, which I will keep to myself for now until awards week, but certainly nothing anywhere near as ludicrous as a “Strawberry and Cream” flavoured sausage. Can you really imagine the Wimbledon Set tucking into them on centre court? If it is true it must be one of the craziest ideas ever!

10) The most expensive sausage in the world is called “The Chelsea” and is made exclusively for and imported by a Russian Billionaire who I cannot name for legal reasons. The ingredients include Beluga Caviar, Wagyu Steak, Matsutake Mushrooms and Iberico Ham. The whole thing is wrapped in Gold Leaf and each one costs a cool £12,000. It may sound a lot, but when you consider he could get a whole pack for less than Frank Lampard’s weekly wage, I guess it's not even loose change for him.

VERDICT: £12,000 for a sausage sounds a lot, even with those ingredients, but then that’s the retail cost so they’ve bound to have marked it up a fair bit, then you’ve got import taxes and such like to consider. Plausible.

So there you have it – 10 sausage facts to mull over – 4 are true and 6 are false. But which are which? It’s up to you to decide…

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