18th century gluttony

January is always associated with the making of New Year’s resolutions and one of these is often to go on a diet. With that in mind, in today’s post I’m taking a quick look through the Georgian newspapers in which I’ve come across a number of people who really wold have benefitted from dieting, after some serious cases of gross over-eating, so, here we go:

Yale University Library
Yale University Library

Caledonian Mercury, 20 November 1732

Joseph Barry mentioned in our last, besides the six pound weight of beef steaks, devoured a quarter loaf, drank two gallons of strong beer, and ate besides a pound of roast pork and two pounds of bread and cheese, between ten in the morning and one in the afternoon. Elate with this victory, he had accepted a challenge from the famous pudding eater at the Excise Office.

Yale University Library
Yale University Library

Northampton Mercury, 5 November 1785

Leeds Nov. 1 A few days ago one Mr Bull, a shoemaker, in Halifax, well known in the epicurean world, as well for the niceness of his taste as the keenness of his stomach, for a wager undertook to eat a nine pound goose, two penny oat cakes, and drink two quarts of ale, in the space of forty minutes. He performed this, to the astonishment of all present, in just thirty five and a half minutes, and afterwards spent the evening with the greatest cheerfulness, with those who were assembled to see this.

Yale University Library
Yale University Library

The Norfolk Chronicle, 28 November 1789 takes ‘eat all you can’ to a whole new level.

Francis Prigg, an underground collier, of Newton St. Loe, ate at a public house in the Bristol Road, a roasted shoulder of mutton weighing seven and half pounds, with half a peck of potatoes, half a pound of cheese, and four two-penny loaves, and drank six quarts of beer, all within the space of one hours.  After which he murmured, because he had not (as he said) about four pounds of pudding with it.

Yale University Library
Yale University Library

The Dublin Evening Post, 14 July 1796 begins with the simple heading ‘Gluttony’. It then described

A disgraceful wretch who devoured 12 penny loaves stepped in six pints of ale, as a public house in Mosborough, near Sheffield, in about twenty-eight minutes, which it transpired was a whole two minutes under the time allowed for the challenge. In the afternoon he offered to perform the same worse than beastly exploit in half the time.

The report doesn’t tell us whether or not he did indeed repeat the exercise – hopefully not!

Yale University Library
Yale University Library

Next, we have a report in the Hampshire Chronicle, 7 January 1797

A man of Cuckfield, Lewes, a flax-dresser by profession, has undertaken, for a trifling wager, to eat a square foot of plumb pudding in a fortnight. A foot of plumb pudding contains no less than 1738 cubic inches, and will weigh, if properly baked, forty-two pounds. The man began on Thursday last.

I wondered whether or not he achieved this and found the answer in the newspaper of 21 January 1797.

The plumb pudding eater at Lewes, has lost his wager. On the eight day, the gormandizer’s jaws refused to stir any longer in the service, and he consequently declined all further perseverance in his task.

Yale University Library
Yale University Library

According to the Bury and Norwich Post, 18 September 1816 we another pudding eater.

The daily feats of pedestrianism we hear of, however astonishing, cannot be deemed more, or yet half so ridiculously extraordinary, as the following fact: A person, well known by the appellation of ‘The Russian,’ has undertaken, for a considerable wager, to eat 1,000 puddings in 1,000 successive hours, each pudding to weight half a pound. The time is not yet fixed when he is to commence his repast, but it is expected it will be in the neighbourhood of Carlisle.

As to whether any of these were accurate stories we may never know, but I do wonder whether any of these gentlemen felt the urge to diet after their over indulgence.

5 thoughts on “18th century gluttony

  1. Pingback: Food for Thought – Guided By Art

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