Out-of-this-world Corby porridge championship to be re-created 50 years on

A porridge eating contest in Corby will be re-created tomorrow 50 years after it made headlines in space.

Thursday, 18th July 2019, 9:42 am
A porridge eating contest made headlines in space on the Apollo 11 mission.
A porridge eating contest made headlines in space on the Apollo 11 mission.

Exactly half a century ago today (July 18) Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were travelling towards Earth’s satellite in the history-making Apollo 11 mission.

They had launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 16, 1969, with Armstrong uttering his immortal words “this is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.

On day three NASA gave the crew a briefing on the latest news from back on Earth – including the result of a porridge eating competition held in Corby, something which aimed to raise the profile of the town’s Highland Gathering held the following weekend.

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A porridge eating contest made headlines in space on the Apollo 11 mission.

Reports said Irishman John Coyle took the title after eating a whopping 23 bowls of instant oatmeal in just 10 minutes.

And tomorrow hungry diners will take on the breakfast battle once more at the Hungry Hossee cafe in Dale Street.

Cafe owner Shelaine Crabtree said: "I am really excited for it.

"I knew nothing about it being read out in space but it's a fantastic piece of history."

The Evening Telegraph's front page on July 21, 1969.

The contest, hosted by BBC Radio Northampton, starts at 8.30am with pipers piping in the contestants at about 8.15am.

Four contestants have already signed up with space for two more, with two adjudicators also needed.

They will try and smash their way as many bowls of porridge as they can in 10 minutes, which Shelaine said will be made with whole milk to make the consistency thick and creamy.

The cafe, this year's Northamptonshire Telegraph Cafe of the Year winner, is famous for its 'The Big One' breakfast - a 7,500-calorie challenge only a handful have finished.

Winner of the Northants Telegraph Cafe of the Year, The Hungry Hossee, l-r Keighley Flynn, Shelaine Crabtree, Margaret Wayman and Shantell McVeigh.

Shelaine said the porridge challenge is so tough she thinks even those who had defeated 'The Big One' could only manage between 12 and 15 bowls.

But she had some advice for those taking part. She said: "You've got to go at it fast. 10 minutes is no time at all."

The transcript of the 1969 porridge conversation between the astronauts and Bruce McCandless in Mission Control is available on NASA's website.

After reading out news of the Senate Finance Committee’s income tax surtax plans and results from Major League Baseball, McCandless added: “And in Corby, England, an Irishman, John Coyle has won the world’s porridge eating championship by consuming 23 bowls of instant oatmeal in a 10-minute time limit from a field of 35 other competitors. Over.”

Collins replied: “I’d like to enter Aldrin in the oatmeal eating contest next time.”

He went on to say that Aldrin was eating his share on the mission and was on the 19th bowl of his current meal.

Legend had it that the Corby crater on Mars, named after the town in 1979, took its name from the porridge tale, although that has been disputed.

Another Corby link to the moon landings was reported by the Evening Telegraph at the time.

Grandmother Louise Page, 70, from the village of Deene, composed a prayer of peace – copies of which were carried by the astronauts in their capsule.

American broadcasters visited the village to talk to Mrs Page about her composition Come Into Space My Darling, which was dedicated to the Apollo 11 crew.