25/02/2021

Five Old Things with Odd Names!

People loved them-and then they didn’t! But you can still buy them!!

Filet -O- Fish
Not an Irish musician but the pseudo French moniker for one of McDonald’s burgers, officially described as "a fish sandwich" but because the company can't talk properly it has to have a silly name. Like they can't just say Delivery, it has to be McDelivery. I suppose Filet-o-Fish sounds better than Fish Burger and much more high end than Fillet of Fish. It’s not actually French as that would be Filet de Poisson and can you imagine your average McDonalds customer asking for that. Plus from a distance that name looks just a bit too much like Filet de Poison which is just not acceptable in a restaurant. The Filet- o Fish was invented in 1962 in Cincinnati to solve the issue of falling hamburger sales on Fridays due to Catholics not eating meat on that day. Why they couldn’t just call it a Fishburger I don’t know. Or they could have called it Friday o’Fish really. It consists of a fried breaded fish fillet, pasteurised cheese and tartar sauce inside a steamed bun. Mmm. Yum etc..

  Filet-o- Fish uses the famous square fish

 

Chicken a la King
Once upon a time before Britain had a proper food culture we used to think that this was the most exotic food ever. It’s diced chicken in a cream sauce with sherry, mushrooms and vegetables all served over rice, bread or noodles. It has the air of something invented when a chef accidentally spilt random ingredients into a dish and thought; “I wonder what this tastes like.” Indeed its origins are shrouded in some mystery with multiple alternative stories of how it came to be. People used to imagine it had its roots in a Royal dish though there is no particular evidence of that. I bet whoever invented it definitely didn't want their name associated with such a product once they saw its resemblance to a bowl of slop. Back in the Seventies however Chicken a la King was the height of sophistication at dinner parties where it's bizarre contents no doubt blended perfectly with the brown wallpaper, garish tablecloths and kipper ties. 

aka Chicken- a-la Mush

Soap on a Rope
If you have trouble with slippery soap then why not use Soap on a Rope? You might think this is some terrible Seventies thing but you can buy it to this very day! It consists of a bar of moulded toilet soap that is attached to a loop of rope through a hole in the soap. The rope is usually made of waxed cotton cord which is quite water resistant or hemp which is naturally antibacterial. The user is meant to place the rope loop over their head or around their wrist to prevent the soap bar from falling to the floor. Putting it over your head can be problematical unless the rope is long enough to stop you falling over as you contort to use it!

It used to be said that it was invented for use in prisons (lol) but this is not the case. It was created in the 1940s by soap manufacturers Imperial Leather as a practical solution to soap slipping out of people’s hands and sliding somewhere out of reach as you were bathing. People mostly bathed rather than showered back then so if you lost the soap it would become soggier falling in the bath water. So you could hang the soap over the taps or yourself. This was a particularly useful attribute it you were on holiday apparently. You know how there used to be lots of soap thieves in holiday resorts.


 Yes, it could also be used to moor an actual ship.

The real heyday of Soap on a Rope was the Sixties and Seventies.  Amongst the top sellers was Old Spice (which was an aftershave!), 1966 World Cup (the soap looked like a football), Avon Easter Chick (bright yellow soap shaped like a duck) and an Owl (slightly disturbing light brown soap). Once when the Pope visited Australia the merchandise created to celebrate the trip included a Pope Soap on a Rope. In the past few years Soap on a Rope has been making something of a comeback despite the prevalence of liquid soaps and assorted sanitizers. If you really want to give it a try then go to  https://www.soap-on-a-rope.com/  The site includes a collection of assorted novelty soaps from decades past and you'll never have that problem of your soap shooting out of your hands and breaking the window again.

Etch- a Sketch
In the Seventies anybody could draw thanks to Etch-a- Sketch a literally named toy enabling you to, erm, etch a sketch. Consisting of a red frame with a white screen you turn knobs on either side creating images as if by magic. And when someone came to look at your work you could simply shake the screen and the picture would vanish. The material that creates the sketch is non- toxic aluminium powder. Exactly how it worked fascinated people but apparently it is not by using magnets as you might expect. It wasn’t until much more recently that the secret of the toy has been fully uncovered revealing a sort of plotting device with a metal pointer hiding under the layer of plastic and glass. When you move the knobs the powder is displaced by the pointer which becomes a dark line on the screen. There have been some fairly impressive pictures created on Etch –a –Sketch though however basic it looks as the example below shows but the unsanswered question is simply Why?

 

It wasn't actually magic...

The Spork
This unusual item resembling the results of a metalworking accident is a type of hybrid cutlery (see also Splayde, Knork, Spife, no I’m not making these up they are real items) and consists of a spoon shaped scoop with several fork like prongs. They can be made either from metal or wood. Supposedly invented for convenience in busy public eating places like airports or also on camping trips it suffers from the malady that afflicts so many “useful” devices in that it makes the task at hand harder than if you just do it conventionally. Can you imagine trying to cut and then lift the food? It would be easier with just a fork. A Spork requires levels of dexterity normally associated with a sleight of hand magician. Mind you it could be ideal for today allowing people to scroll through social media with one hand and eat with the other.  You may well have used a Spork without realising it as most people who know the name are too embarrassed to use it so it becomes “that thing.” Really though, just use a fork, eh?


 It does come back to you if you throw it away too.

 


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