The Anonymous Widower

Allergic To Corned Beef

In the repeat of Dad’s Army this evening, Private Fraser.said that he got out of sevig in the vArmy, because he was allergic to corned beef.

This must be one of the first references to allergies in fiction.

I wonder why it was included

March 31, 2012 - Posted by | Food, World | , ,

12 Comments »

  1. Er, think it was a joke James…

    Comment by Marc | March 31, 2012 | Reply

    • Of course it was. But I thought it might have been the first mention of allergies in a drama or comedy. And anyway, I don’t think anyone is allergic to corned beef, as it’s maize. Coeliacs aren’t I know!

      My reason for questioning why it was included, was that I was curious to what prompted it. Was one of the actors, writes or directors allergic to something? Allergies weren’t really in mainstream until about 1970. And I only know, because a friend of ours was a White Minstrel and her hree-year-old son was a coeliac.

      Comment by AnonW | March 31, 2012 | Reply

      • The episode in question was originally broadcast in 1969.

        Comment by Sargent Wilson | August 25, 2020

  2. It was actually Private Walker who had the corned beef allergy. I assume the joke was that corned beef was regular army rations, so could hardly be avoided. The series started in 1968, but it may just have been a joke about allergy and not food as such – allergy generally was coined ages ago. Private Walker was allergic to the army…

    Also from Wiki:

    ‘He is supposedly allergic to corned beef, and this is given as the reason why he has not been called up for the regular army, although it is generally assumed that he has found a way to dodge the rules. This allergy was exposed in the episode The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker, which has since been lost from the BBC’s archives. He was conscripted, only to be discharged when it was found that corned beef fritters were the only rations left for the soldiers to eat.’

    Great shame that some episodes were wiped from tape.

    ‘This episode is currently missing from the BBC’s television archives after they wiped the tapes so they could reuse them. This is one of three Dad’s Army episodes that are still missing from the archives. The other two are A Stripe for Frazer and Under Fire.’

    Comment by Marc | March 31, 2012 | Reply

    • In 2019, UKTV had the three missing episodes remade using new actors to the original scripts.

      Comment by Private Walker | August 25, 2020 | Reply

  3. In mid 1930s a US doctor called William Silkworth described alcoholics as being “allergic” to alcohol – by modern definition this is of course false, because a true allergy causes an anaphylactic reaction. It is more properly called an intolerance.

    Comment by liz | March 31, 2012 | Reply

    • An anaphylactic reaction is the most severe reaction to a true food allergy – most food allergies are milder and do not cause anaphylaxis. But you are right – most people with symptoms such as IBS are suffering from a food intolerance rather than a true food allergy of any degree.

      Comment by Marc | March 31, 2012 | Reply

  4. Which is why when doc tried to fob daughter off with IBS diagnosis I shelled out £300 for York Tests and discovered what was causing it. She has nutritionist appt this coming week with them.

    Comment by liz | March 31, 2012 | Reply

  5. I think Marc is right about the joke being the ubiquity of corned beef. I had the pleasure of being fed by the British Army for some months in the late sixties and despite being in the Caribbean we were rained in for two weeks so the Cooks brought out “Three thousand ways with a can of corned dog”.

    Comment by peter hoskins | April 1, 2012 | Reply

    • You ought to write it all up. After all there can’t be many alive, who were part of the Metropolitan Police’s Expeditionary Force, that invaded Anguilla. I remember your tale about the shirts.

      Comment by AnonW | April 1, 2012 | Reply

  6. Had a look online and there are indications that someone can have an allergy for Corn Beef, or more likely one of the preservatives and/or process used in making Corn Beef. These have probably come to light in recent years. So either Croft & Perry were making a joke about Corn Beef being prevalent in WWII diet (civilian or militarily) or as they wrote from their experiences, they knew someone who was allergic to Corn Beef.

    Comment by Corporal Jack Jones (Butcher) | August 25, 2020 | Reply

    • I am coeliac and allergic to gluten, I was told by the dietician at Addenbrookes after my diagnosis, that I could probably eat corned beef. I can and I eat about a pack from M & S every month without a reaction.

      Comment by AnonW | August 25, 2020 | Reply


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