Tag Archives: telegraph

“Aren’t burgers scientifically great?” says supermarket chain’s burger promotion


The news was ablaze last week with talk of the scientifically-perfect burger, although what else can you expect on ‘National Burger Day’?

How to make the perfect burger: Oxford food scientist claims to have answer

Oxford University chef says perfect burger is 7cm tall, should be eaten to music, given a name and should feel as good as it tastes.

A leading food scientist claims to have created the perfect burger – and says that its smell and feel are more important than the taste.

The best burgers are 7cm tall, 5cm wide and boast nine layers, according to Oxford University chef and food perception expert Charles Michel.

Source: Telegraph, 26th August 2015


A 7cm wide patty, crunchy lettuce and a warm bun… eaten with your hands: Chef reveals formula for the perfect burger (and how it SOUNDS is as important as the taste)

Making a delicious burger may seem as simple as whacking a beef patty between two sesame seed buns and finishing adding a slice of iceberg lettuce – but scientists are now begging to disagree.

According to new research commissioned by Asda, a great hamburger should stimulate all the senses including sound and feel.

Chef and flavour researcher, Charles Michel, said that the sensation of the burger in our hands and the crunch of the lettuce all add to the overall experience.

Source: Daily Mail, 26th August 2015


National Burger Day 2015: What does your perfect burger look like?

In a now annual tradition, today we gather together, slap meat into a sliced piece of bread, and stick it in our mouths. Here are the burgers we dreamt of waking up to, on National Burger Day morning — and our pick of our favourite real ones.

Source: Independent, 27th August 2015


This is how to make the ‘perfect’ burger for National Burger Day

It’s National Burger Day tomorrow and we’re already salivating in anticipation of perhaps the greatest food day of the year.

But where to go for the perfect burger?

According to chef Charles Michel, your best bet is to stay at home – and cook up his ‘perfect’ burger.

Michel is the chef in residence at Oxford University’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory, where they analyse how our senses work.

He has conducted some Very Important research in labs for Asda to prove scientifically what makes the perfect burger, from the individual ingredients to the entire eating experience.

Source: Metro, 26th August 2015


Who’d have thought there was a scientist out there independently undertaking such important research as figuring out what the perfect burger consists of? And at Oxford University, no less! What a time to be alive… except, of course, that this was not legitimate research, and was by no means independently-derived:

Mr Michel’s work was commissioned by supermarket Asda to celebrate National Burger Day on Thursday.

No, indeed, this was merely a case of Charles Michel being employed to lend his name to a promotion by a supermarket chain. We can even see the full press release on the Asda website, including the infographic featured in the Telegraph and Daily Mail.


In case you’re wondering what Asda’s angle is in this, the obligatory spokesperson quote makes everything clear:

Asda’s beef buyer Neil Moorcroft said: “Burgers have come a long way from a humble beef patty in a bun to a great British favourite and gastronomic dish.

“Wagyu burgers are full of flavour, texture and have a decent amount of fat to carry burger smells to our nostrils. It’s important to us to support food innovation and offer customers something new.

“We want people to listen to the sounds and appreciate all of their senses when biting into their perfect burgers this National Burger Day.”

As for the scientist, I’m not sure Oxford University would relish their name being bandied around quite so cheaply. Yes, relish.

“You love classical music in films, honestly, you do!” says classical radio station

Films and video games storm classical music hall of fame

A total of 22 pieces in this year’s Classic FM Hall of Fame began life as film soundtracks, compared with only two when the poll began 20 years ago

Film and video game music now makes up a record number of the nation’s favourite classical pieces, a survey has found, amid declining snobbery about whether they count as serious music.

Source: Telegraph, 31st August 2015


Clearly classical musical isn’t the most popular genre any more, but that’s not to say it’s dead – in fact this poll is a timely reminder that people really do love a good classical score, especially in the background of their favourite film or game. So maybe classical music is pretty good after all – isn’t that right, originator of this story?

A total of 22 pieces in this year’s Classic FM Hall of Fame began life as film soundtracks, compared with only two when the poll began 20 years ago.

Classical music station declares classical music relevant – that’s the story here. Although the lead has changed somewhat from the headline of the Classic FM press release:

Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 tops 20-year poll of classical music

Star Wars composer John Williams is named most popular living composer in Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame, which combines 20 years’ worth of polling data from annual Hall of Fame poll.


Even Classic FM’s own blog post about the enduring popularity of Rachmaninov gets spun to focus on the more contemporary aspects of the story. I’d hate to be the head of Classic FM and have to justify its relevance after that.

Sam Jackson, managing editor, said: “In the mid to late 1990s, it was pretty controversial that Classic FM at that time was playing film scores at all.

“The journey that we have now started with game music is what we saw with film music then.
“It took a while for it to bed in and become accepted. When it started to become more acceptable, we played those film scores more and more and people voted for them more.

“There’s a certain constituency of people who have said to us on both film and computer game music, that this is not classical music, because it’s not made for the concert hall.

“Film music is still a very, very good route in for people. Any use of classical music in popular culture is.”

Smoothly done, Sam.

“Children’s bedtime storybooks are important “, says book retailer and holiday company

The last few weeks have been a curious time in children’s bedtime story news. First off we had the Telegraph and the Independent reporting on the bedtime phenomenon that’s scientifically-designed to send your child to sleep in no time:

Bedtime phenomenon: scientist develops book to send children to sleep in minutes

The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep uses psychological techniques to send children to sleep quickly

For most authors the prospect of their books sending readers to sleep would be horrifying.

But the latest publishing phenomenon which is topping the Amazon charts is a book which promises to do just that, at least for children.

The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep, has been created by Swedish behavioural psychologist and linguist Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin and is currently outselling Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman and Paula Hawkins The Girl on The Train.

Source: Telegraph, 15th August 2015


The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep: Psychologist develops bedtime book to send children to sleep in minutes

The book has shot to the top of Amazon’s best sellers list after being embraced by parents

Every parent of a young child will be familiar with the daily struggle of trying to coax an energetic child into going to sleep.

A psychologist has claimed that he may finally have the answer to the age old problem and has developed a new book scientifically designed to send children to sleep within minutes.

Since going on sale, The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep has rocketed to the top of Amazon’s best sellers list.

Source: Independent, 15th August 2015


And of course, by ‘scientifically designed’ we mean put together by a scientist willing to lend his name to a promotional exercise for an international book retailer:

The book was publishes using Amazon’s CreateSpace system.

Alison Forrestal, Director of Books and Entertainment Media, Amazon UK said: “This book has been a word of mouth phenomenon. Carl-Johan took the opportunity to independently publish and has now reached parents and children all over the UK.

“This is the first time an independent author has taken the number one position in our print books chart and ‘The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep’ is currently outselling big releases like The Girl on a Train and Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. It’s a great achievement and we, like many families across the UK, hope there are many more books to come.”

If that weren’t odd enough, a fortnight later the Daily Mail and the Telegraph (again) ran a follow-up, this time crediting science with having derived the formula for the perfect bedtime story:

Recipe for perfect bedtime story: Ideal tale lasts eight and a half minutes and includes a dragon, a princess, a wizard and a fairy, research reveals

The perfect bedtime story lasts eight-and-a-half minutes and includes a dragon, a princess, a wizard and a fairy, research reveals.

And such knowledge might just come in handy because the survey also found that parents spend a total of one week a year trying to get their children to go to sleep.

While the ideal story lasting eight minutes and 36 seconds might have traditional elements, such as the backdrop of a castle, the hero should carry a thoroughly modern mobile phone as well as a magic wand.

Source: Daily Mail, 28th August 2015


The secrets of the perfect bedtime story revealed

The ideal bed time story should be just 8.6 minutes long, feature a dragon, a fairy and a wizard and be set in a castle, new research has revealed

Many a parent has melded the literary greats with the themes of Hollywood blockbusters to create bedtime stories to tell their young ones.

But now the formula for the ultimate bedtime tale has been revealed for the first time.

A new study of 2,000 parents and their children has shown that the ideal story should last just 8.6 minutes long.

Source: Telegraph, 27th August 2015

Yet more bedtime science! I’m not sure when the world became awash with experts in the field of children sleeping, but August 2015 will truly go down as a landmark date for great advances in this particularly niche science. Either that or it will be noted for the time that one company jumped on the back of a PR push by another company, and science got taken along for the ride.

So who came up with the recipe for the ‘perfect bedtime story’? We know it wasn’t noted ‘storytelling expert’ Alex Charalambous, who has this to say:

Story-telling expert Alex Charalambous said: “As your child prepares to go back to school after the holidays, it’s a good idea to establish a steady bedtime routine that includes reading a story. As the research shows, the familiarity of a classic tale draws children in and the happy ending makes for a pleasant night’s sleep.

It seems an odd point to start from in bringing up, a propos of nothing, preparation to go back to school after holidays, and the importance of routine. What does that have to do with the perfect bedtime story? Well, as it turns out, everything:

The study, by holiday camp company Butlin’s, as part of their new ‘Just for Tots’ breaks, highlighted how difficult mums and dads find getting their children to sleep when they start school again following the summer break.

This is a PR campaign by Butlin’s – in fact we can see it all over their website.


What have bedtime routines and bedtime stories got to do with a holiday company like Butlin’s? The answer, of course, is that their ‘Just For Tots’ holiday range includes bedtime stories for your child, all the way through the holidays, so you don’t have to worry about establishing a new post-holiday routine.


If you think that seems a far-fetched hook for a national news story, let the obligatory spokesperson quote clear things up for you:

Dermot King, managing director of Butlin’s which commissioned the research, added: “With our dedicated Just for Tots breaks we already aim to cater for the under-fives in every way possible, whilst ensuring parents can spend as much time with their children without any added stresses.

“To make sure bedtime is as much of an event as the rest of the day, we’re lending out these clever story boxes on resort, giving parents the tools to engage their little ones fully at bedtime, and ensure they nod off in preparation for another action filled day.”

And that, boys and girls, is how if you wish really hard on the right star you can turn your self-serving advert into national news. Good night.

“People should make more Sunday roasts!” says manufacturer of Sunday roast ingredients

Brits have fallen out of love with roast dinners

New research suggests the traditional Sunday roast dinner is in danger of dying out

New research has revealed that the popularity of the traditional Sunday roast dinner is waning.

Figures from market analysts Kantar Worldpanel revealed that during the last year, the number of families tucking in to a roast dinner has dropped by four per cent to 1.3 billion.

Source: Telegraph, 25th August 2015


Should Sunday roast dinners still be on the menu?

The traditional meat and two veg lunch is suffering a decline. Fay Schopen and Philip Hoare debate whether the Great British roast has a place in modern-day life

Fay Schopen: Roast dinners are a comfort blanket that practically cook themselves

Source: The Guardian, 25th August 2015


Why cooking a Sunday roast is now too much of a chore: Number of meals eaten in past year drops by 55 million

British families have been feasting on a Sunday roast since medieval times, but in an age of fast lives, fast food and spicy alternatives, the traditional meal is on the wane.

It appears that preparing a leg of lamb, a beef rib or pork with the crunch of crackling is too much of a chore for many people.

New figures suggest the number of roast dinner meals eaten in Britain fell by around 55million in the past year – four per cent – down to some 1.3billion.

The figures come from retail analysts Kantar Worldpanel, prompting speculation that many young families do not want to spend the time it takes to cook a roast from scratch.

Source: Daily Mail, 24th August 2015


It’s the death of a great tradition, as English as fish and chips and colonialism, but sadly the great British Sunday roast is on the way out. No wonder this made national news in three separate newspapers!

Except, of course, this isn’t quite news – it’s an advert for products which fall under the remit of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board:

But while roast potatoes might be disappearing from our tables, research from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board revealed that sales of mashed potatoes was up by 20 per cent.

Mike Whittemore, head of beef and lamb trade marketing at the AHDB, told trade magazine The Grocer: “Consumers are crying out for a new approach to the roasting category, but the way many retailers present and market roasting joints does not reflect this.

“Roast sales are declining but the supermarkets need to understand why. We have got to think differently about how to fill that void.”

More to the point, this isn’t a new phenomenon either, with Red Tractor launching a media campaign on precisely the same hook back in 2011:

food fix

 20% less


Coincidentally, that story also made the Daily Mai:


So not only is this a mere advert, it’s also an advert based on a hook that’s at least 4 years old. Ah, British traditions!

“People work on the move these days!” says mobile broadband provider

More staff gain right to flexible work as thousands swap office for the pub

British workers given right to request flexible working hours as survey shows employees spending hours a week working from the pub, taxis and coffee shops

Millions of workers will have the right to request flexible working from today, as research shows that thousands of British people are already working from pubs, on buses and in taxis.

Source: Telegraph, 30th June 2014


The traditional office is well and truly dead – just take it from this intrepid blogger and occasional freelancer, anywhere with a electricity socket is an office these days.

Still, as much as the mobile worker sounds glamorous, it far more often means posting from a sofa than a Starbucks – so just how accurate is this latest research, which suggests we’re all taking advantage of public wifi to carry out our ninetofives?

The study by O2 Business shows an increasing trend for people to work from a coffee shop, with two fifths of UK workers spending more than four hours a week working there.

It’s not hard to see why a mobile broadband provider like O2 might be talking up the remarkable benefits of working on the move. Yet, they’re always first with the automated text the moment my data allowance runs out…

“People make lots of small cash payments!” says touchless payment card

Workers spend more than £2,500 a year on lunch and snacks, report says

The amount that people who travel to work spend on small purchases such as coffee, breakfast, lunch and snacks adds up to an average of £10.59 a day

Workers fork out more than £2,500 a year typically for small purchases such as coffees, breakfast, lunch and snacks, according to a report.

Source: Telegraph, 23rd June 2014


£2,500 a year on work snacks: Average commuter spends more than £10 a day on lunch, takeaway coffees and other food

Workers spend more than £2,500 a year typically for small purchases such as coffees, breakfast, lunch and snacks, research has found.

On average, the amount commuters spend on these small and regular purchases adds up to £10.59 a day.

Over the course of a year, taking weekends and holidays out of the equation, the total comes to £2,541, according to the study by Visa.

Source: Daily Mail, 23rd June 2014


It’s little surprise to see people spending money on their lunch each day, although the amount does seem a little high for work snacks. How precisely does that figure break down?

The survey of more than 2,100 British commuters found they typically spend £3.69 buying lunch, £2.09 on hot drinks and £7.09 if they pop to the supermarket during a break to stock up on food and drink for the evening.

Remarkably, the “£2500 per year on work snacks” includes buying food and drink in the supermarket for when you get home after work. In fact, percentage-wise, the majority of that £2500 of snacks for the working day is food not actually intended for the working day at all – it’s right there in the article!

Also right there in the article is the identity of the company who paid for this ‘research’ to make the papers:

The research for Visa Contactless found that on average, the amount that people who travel to work spend on these small and regular purchases adds up to £10.59 a day.

Visa, of course, have a clear incentive to make us aware of how often we make small payments like this:

The rise in contactless technology, which allows people to make small payments by swiping a reader with their card, means more than 300,000 terminals across the UK now accept such payments.

“German holiday makers hate German holidays makers!” says German holiday company

Sunbed-nabbing Germans and their beach towels ‘is biggest holiday grievance in Germany’

Germans dislike British and Russian tourists more than any other nationality – and say biggest woe is their own countrymen nabbing the best sunbathing spots, according to new survey

If you’ve ever got up on the first morning of your holiday to find all the sunloungers already reserved by Germans, you are not alone.

It turns out the British are not the only people who can’t stand the Teutonic habit of getting up at the crack of dawn to nab all the best sunbathing spots with a towel – it’s so annoying it infuriates the Germans themselves.

Source: Telegraph, 6th June 2014


Germans complain British tourists are too loud and all too often drunk (but at least we’re not as bad as the Russians)

British tourists are second only to Russians when it comes to nationalities Germans dislike most when on holiday.

A survey of 8,100 German holidaymakers carried out by German travel operator Urlaubstours found that Germans viewed the Russians and the British as both loud and all too often drunk.

In addition, the Germans complained in the survey that Brits in particular were rude and had poor table manners.

Source: Daily Mail, 6th June 2014


It seems some clichés are so well-worn they transcend national boundaries, with the stereotypical sunbed-stealing German tourist annoying even their fellow compatriots.

Perhaps even more interestingly, the habit of having dodgy PR surveys masquerading as news also seems to be one unbounded by nationality, given that this story originally appeared in the German media:

Urlaubstours Reise-Umfrage: Russen und Briten trinken zu viel, Chinesen rülpsen zu oft

Die Sommerferien rücken immer näher und die Vorfreude auf den lang ersehnten Urlaub steigt. Doch nicht nur das Urlaubsziel an sich, sondern auch dort anzutreffende Touristen anderer Nationalitäten beeinflussen das Urlaubserlebnis.

Source: Netz-Trends, 6th June 2014


And, of course, it was placed there by a German holiday company:

A new survey released by tour operator Urlaubstours took the potentially divisive step of asking Germans which nationality they least liked to encounter on holiday, and why.

Du meine Güte!

“Life begins at 45!” says dating site for over 40s

‘Life begins at 45’ when people are most content

Poll suggests middle aged are more content with life and secure in their relationships than younger people

It is a claim which has long offered solace to those facing the onset of middle age but new research suggests those pinning their hopes on the promise that life begins at 40 might have to wait at least another five years.

Polling found that those over the age of 45 are more content with life, happier in their relationships and feel more in touch with the world than their younger counterparts.

Source: Telegraph, 1 May 2014

Life begins at 45! How middle-aged people surrounded by family and friends are the happiest in Britain

Life might begin at 40 – but it seems those aged over 45 are the ones who really enjoy themselves.

According to a new survey, those in the middle-aged category are the happiest people in Britain.

In a survey of more than 2,000 adults, those over 45 – dubbed by researchers as the mid-life risers – came out on top, in part due to strong relationships with family and friends.

Source: Daily Mail, 1 May 2014

Good news for my post-40 readers: life is about to get very exciting and rosy for you, if it hasn’t already! While a number of reasons are cited in this particular piece of PR, the bonus happiness in relationships seems particularly key, given who paid for this story to appear in the news:

Samantha Bedford, from Love Begins At, said: ‘It’s great to look forward to life ahead with excitement – with the confidence and wherewithal to make the most of the opportunities available.

‘These mid-life risers are not about fading into grey. It’s about moving into a new stage of life, post-children and preparing to try something new. These over 45s are often moving into a new stage of their romantic life too.

‘Independent, confident and content looking, they’re no longer looking for the mother or father of their children but for a partner to enjoy life with.’

So, now that you’ve had your middle-aged ego boosted, why not go out there and bag yourself a new lover? Samantha’s ‘Love Begins At’ dating website for the over 40s is presumably where you’re meant to start.

“Insurance covers you for weird things happening!” says insurance company

What’s the strangest thing to ever have caused damage to your home? It’s unlikely your story can compete with those featured in the Daily StarDaily Mailand Telegraph recently:

‘A snail ate my carpet’ See some of the strangest successful insurance claims of all time

IF a badger has bashed your shed or a snail has eaten your carpet, why not try and make an insurance claim – you won’t be the first to.

Or if a deer falls in your swimming pool, you can earn money from that too.

Source: Daily Star, 23 April 2014

‘A badger ate my wall’ among successful insurance claims.

A badger that ate through a wall to escape after being locked in a shed and a dog which jumped into a television screen to find a mate are among a list of successful insurance claims filed by homeowners.

One man received more than £400 when he made a claim for a new laptop after his new baby grandson vomited over his computer as he attempted to show him off on Skype.

And in another incident insurers paid for repairs after a quick thinking squirrel smashed a window to get out of a garage owned by an 86-year-old woman in Exeter, where it had become trapped.

Animals and children were the most common causes in the list of strange claims.

However, nature, and bad luck, also played a part.

Source: Telegraph, 23 April 2014

The message is clear: you never know where the next source of danger is coming from. But don’t just take my word for it – there’s an industry spokesman backing me up:

Peter Corfield, Managing Director at RIAS said: ‘While we go out of our way to ensure that our homes and gardens are safe and secure, sometimes it’s the most unlikely events that can end up causing real damage.

Who are RIAS, you might be wondering?

The list of bizarre insurance claims was compiled by specialist insurance provider RIAS from the almost 400,000 successful cases in 2012-13.

RIAS are the people telling you to ensure your house (with them) lest a rampaging army of badgers, deer and snails descend upon you and your territory. It’s real, they’re coming, and RIAS are apparently your only hope.

“Old people used to have silly names!” says ancestry research site

What’s that Mary, traditional names are dying out?

Cecil, Rowland and Willie have fallen so far out of favour that no one wants to use them for their child.

They are the names nobody wants.

Although Cecil, Rowland and Willie were once among the most popular names in Britain, they have fallen so far out of favour they have now became “extinct”.

Latest birth records show that not a single person was given any of the three names while girls’ names Bertha, Blodwen or Fanny are also extinct.

Source: Telegraph, 4 April 2014

Or, to put it in slightly more immature terms, here’s the Daily Star’s take on the tale:

Fanny and Willy (stop sniggering!) on the ‘extinct’ baby names list

FANNY and Willy are now deemed “extinct” as no one chose these baby names in recent years.

Old-fashioned boys’ names such as Cecil and Rowland, and girls’ names such as Blodwen and Gertrude have also fallen out of favour.

Research carried out by Ancestry.co.uk showed that no babies born in 2012 were registered with these names.

Source: Daily Star, 4 April 2014

OK, now, settle down at the back, there’s nothing remotely amusing about the impending extinction of your garden-variety Willy or Fanny – just ask the website who paid to have this research created:

Miriam Silverman, from Ancestry.co.uk, said: “Of course, no first name can truly become extinct, as it can easily be resurrected, but it’s fascinating to look at the list from 1905 and see which have thrived and which have faded into obscurity.

“We also know that people appreciate a rare or unusual name in their family tree and as more people join the family history revolution we believe that such endangered names will be protected by concerned descendants.”

Oh, good – it turns out the names aren’t actually going extinct, it’s just PR for an ancestry-researching site looking to get more people to join their ‘family history revolution’. Phew. Worried Willies: stand down.