Samui Wining & Dining
Tasty Dates

October has many culinary-related curiosities – here are just a few of them!


p8Food is never far out of mind, particularly here, on Samui. And, in this regular series of articles, we check back through the years to some of the people, places and events that have been even vaguely significant in the world of wining and dining. And this month there’s a veritable rash of bizarre ‘National Days’, most of them emanating from within the USA.


1st – It’s that big golden ‘M’ again, now appearing for the first time ever in England. McDonald’s opened its first UK outlet in Woolwich, London, on this day in 1974.

2nd – Nuts to you! Well, Peanuts, anyway. After years of trying, Charles M. Schultz finally succeeded in syndicating his ‘Peanuts’ comic strip on this day back in 1950.

3rd – Today is the festival of St. Clare of Assisi – and if you are staying in Thailand for any length of time then you should offer up a prayer or two. She’s the patron-saint of both laundry and good weather. And, believe me, the better the weather, the quicker your washing comes back!

4th – This was the day, in 2007, that the second-largest meat producer in America, Topps Meat Co., declared itself bankrupt. Twenty two million pounds of its ground burger beef had to be recalled due to an E. coli contamination scare that left the company financially crippled.

5th – The American, Ray Crok, was born on this day in 1902. He was the outgoing salesman that put the name of McDonald’s on the map, after having persuaded the conservative McDonald brothers to allow him to sell franchises nationwide.

6th – ‘Sherry’, sung by The 4 Seasons, squeaked its way to the top of the USA charts, on this day in 1962.

7th – And even to this day they still talk about the 1953 wedding of Grace O ’Malley of Alfred Town, New South Wales. Coming out of the church, an excited guest pelted her in the face with rice. After she had whacked him with her parasol, a free-for-all erupted which left three guests in hospital!

8th – Lick your lips and wrinkle your nose – today is ‘National Mouldy Cheese Day’ in America.

9th – And, to go one better, this is closely followed today by ‘National Fluffernutter Day’. And if you’re wondering, they seem to be some kind of American marshmallow sandwiches. Yum!

10th – The arte of saffe sexe? Verily I say unto you, as this was the day in 1972 that the oldest-known condoms in the world were discovered buried in the grounds of Dudley Castle, England. These antique prophylactics were created from sheep’s intestines and, having lasted for 350 years, were undoubtedly extremely effective!

11th – This was the day, in 1844, that Henry John Heinz was born. Starting off by selling bottled horseradish in 1869, and expanding to use the slogan ‘57 Varieties’ in 1892, today the H. J. Heinz Company is one of the largest in the world.

12th – And this was the day, in 1810, that the first Austrian Oktoberfest occurred in Munich. Originally a horserace to celebrate the marriage of the Crown Prince of Bavaria, it’s now developed into the world’s biggest beer festival, where a million gallons of beer is swilled over a two-week period each year.

13th – What’s wrong with a few fried grubs and insects? Just check any temple fair in Thailand! But this day, in 2005, saw the first ‘Live Cockroach Eating Competition’ in Gurnee, Illinois. Interestingly, the winner was from Derby, England, who munched his way through 36 living cockroaches in just one minute.

14th – And (undoubtedly to take care of the leftovers) today is ‘National Chocolate Covered Insect Day’, both in Gurnee and throughout the rest of the USA.

15th – Sale sale sale! This was the disastrous day, in 2008, that a supermarket in Chongqing, China, held a one-day sale where it reduced its overstock of cooking oil to less than a quarter of its usual price. The store was besieged by, literally, thousands of women scrambling to fill boxes and baskets, and in the chaos three were trampled to death and more than a hundred badly injured.

16th – They did things differently in the early days of the emerging nation of Australia. This was the day, in 1818, that the New South Wales poet, Michael Massey Robinson, was granted civic recognition and rewarded by the stipend of two cows for his services.

17th – Another one for the Guinness Book of World Records, this time it’s 40 jam sandwiches ingested in 17 minutes 53.9 seconds. The regulation-sized official sandwiches were consumed by Californian, Peter Dowdswell, on this day in 1977.

18th – Enjoy but take care not to overindulge – today is ‘National Brandied Fruit Day’ in the USA!

19th – I feel quite sorry for those cockroach-eating people in Gurnee, Illinois. This was the day, in 2006, when the second ‘Live Eating Cockroach Competition’ was brought to a halt by hundreds of animal (insect?) rights protesters (I wonder what happened to all those released cockroaches?).

20th – Another pint please? This was the birthday, in 1882, of Bella Lugosi, who was probably best-known for his screen-role portraying the blood-guzzling Count Dracula in the 1931 movie of the same name.

21st – Hmm – it’s ‘National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day’ in America but, far more sensibly, in England it’s ‘National Apple Day’ … how dull!

22ndYummy Italia. That’s the name of the pizza shop in Burnley, England, that opened on this day, in 2008, with an unusual menu. It whipped up a storm in the national press with its zebra, buffalo, kangaroo and crocodile pizzas and caused outrage amongst members of animal rights movements and vegetarians everywhere.

23rd – As a spin-off from wartime research into radar, the first domestic microwave ovens went on sale, on this day in 1955. Made by the Tappan Stove Company they were certainly a luxury, being priced at $1,295 – the equivalent of $15,000 today!

24th – And, just to compensate for all those healthy foods everywhere, today in the USA is ‘National Greasy Food Day’. Yippee!

25th – It’s not often that a clown is trodden on by an elephant on live TV. But this is what happened on the ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ on this evening in 1975. Sadly, the clown didn’t survive. Chuckles the Clown took his final bow dressed as a giant peanut.

26th – This was the day, back in 1918, that saw the demise of the legendary hotelier, Cesar Ritz. As well as managing London’s Savoy Hotel, with the equally legendry Escoffier as his chef, he also ran the London Carlton and established a chain of Ritz hotels in France in the late 1900s.

27th – Another Golden Oldie, and this time it’s the unforgettable ‘Gorgonzola’, released on this day in 1930 by Jack Hilton and his Orchestra and warbled by Leslie Sarong (naturally!).

28th – This was the day, in 1977, that ‘Bat out of Hell’ was released by the larger-than-life singer, Meatloaf. Born Marvin Aday, he weighed-in at around 320 pounds for most of his career.

29th – Just a year ago today, in 2009, the ‘Sausage Meat Stylus’ was introduced into South Korea. This effective product could not only be nibbled at, but was ideal for using with the finger-sensitive touch screen of the IPhone, particularly at low temperatures when gloves were being worn!

30th – And there’s no escaping the strong food-bias of this one! This was the day, in 2007, that Joseph Burger was arrested for strangling his girlfriend because she continually just threw the dirty plates into the dishwasher rather than stacking them neatly. She was discovered dead on arrival at Florida Memorial Fish Hospital, in Orange County, California!

31stDunkin Donuts comes to Thailand! This was the day that it opened its first Thai outlet, in Siam Square, Bangkok, back in 1981. Since then it has amassed a further 152 branches throughout the Kingdom (including Samui).

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