Aired: 13 October 2014 at 6.30pm, BBC Radio 4
Curator: Phill Jupitus
Steering Committee: Richard Osman, Sandi Knapp and Kevin Dutton
Chocolate comes from South America. Before having their chests cut open and their hearts pulled out, Aztec human sacrifice victims were given a cup of hot chocolate.
When living in Jamaica, Sir Hans Sloane, founder of the Natural History Museum, described the hot drink Jamaicans made from the beans of the cocoa plant, roasted, ground and mixed with hot water and spices such as pepper. However, he found it ‘nauseous in large quantities and hard to digest’, a problem he later solved by mixing it with hot milk and sugar.
Sloane brought this chocolate recipe back to England. Eventually, in the 19th century, it was taken up by Cadbury, using Sloane’s recipe. Cadbury’s called its chocolate 'Sir Hans Sloane’s Milk Chocolate' for more than a century after his death.
In the year 2008-2009 the world cocoa production was 3,515,000 tonnes. This is equivalent to the weight of a line of double-decker buses stretching more than three times the length of Britain.
One failed chocolate snack was the Cadbury’s Nunch bar. It was called the nunchiest bar on Earth. No one knew what Nunch even meant. After the Aztec bar by Cadbury failed in 1978 they came up with the brilliant idea of the Inca, which failed just as badly. In 1915 Cadbury came up with the idea of a chocolate called Oaktray. It had a wrapper that looked like wood, and it was not a success.
Unfortunately named snacks from around the world include:
From Asia - Nuclear Liquorice, Only Pukee, Cream Collon, Swallow Balls, Ass Pearls, Jack ‘n’ Jill Milk Choco Nips, and Crunky Nude Balls.
From Europe and Scandinavia: Megapussi Potato Chips, Super Dickmanns, Finger Marie, Mini Dickmann’s, Spunk Vingummi, Cream Betweens, Batmilk, Plopp
From Australia - Golden Gaytime
Television Producer &
Richard is a television presenter, producer and director, best known as the co-presenter of the quiz show Pointless.
His move into TV presenting was quite by accident. His day job is as a behind-the-scenes creative director of the television production company Endemol UK. When Richard pitched the idea of Pointless to the BBC – with his old friend from Trinity College, Cambridge, Alexander Armstrong as host – he took on the role of ‘the assistant’ solely for the demonstration, but the BBC execs offered him the job.
When off-camera, he’s been an executive producer on shows such as Deal or No Deal, 8 out of 10 Cats, 10 O'Clock Live, Whose Line is it Anyway? and Total Wipeout. In 1999, he created and wrote the Channel 4 sitcom Boyz Unlimited with David Walliams and Matt Lucas and, in 2005, he co-created and co-wrote the animated Channel 4 sitcom Bromwell High. In 2014, he became a host in his own right with the daytime BBC One quiz show Two Tribes.
Richard was born in Billericay, Essex, and grew up in Haywards Heath. His mother is a teacher. His brother Mat is a funder member and bass player with the band Suede. He is a season ticket holder at Fulham F.C. He is 6ft 7ins tall.
In December 2011, he was voted an ‘unlikely heartthrob’ after winning Heat magazine's ‘Weirdest Crush Award’. ‘I'm about 50% honoured and 50% embarrassed’, he said of his award. ‘I'm not sure whether it means I'm the best weird crush - or the weirdest crush. But I am aglow with pride.’
In 2011 he organised the World Cup of Chocolate on Twitter. The idea was to pit 32 British chocolate snacks against each other, and let people vote for their favourite. The 32 snacks were drawn into eight groups of four, with the winner in each group going through to the quarter-finals. ‘I even seeded the groups to ensure maximum variety. This cleverly combined my love of chocolate with the too much time that I have on my hands.’ The final was fought between Twirl and Maltesers. After extra-time and penalties (or as a couple of people suggested, ‘extra-Dime and Peanuties’), the eventual winner was the Twirl.
The truth is, almost everyone in the world is lovely, but the world is ruined for us by the sociopaths and those who aren’t lovely. They are the ones who make all the noise and make the news.
Dr Sandra ‘Sandi’ Knapp is Merit Researcher and Head of the Plants Division at London’s Natural History Museum. Her particular speciality is the nightshade family, Solanaceae, which is incredibly diverse – about 1,500 species - and includes many deadly poisonous plants, but also tomatoes, aubergines, chillies, peppers, potatoes and tobacco.
She has spent much time in the field in Central and South America collecting plants. She has described more than 50 new species, and came to the Natural History Museum in 1992 to manage the international project Flora Mesoamericana - an inventory of the plants of southern Mexico and the isthmus of Central America.
In 2009 she was awarded the Peter Raven Outreach Award by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists and the UK National Biodiversity Network’s John Burnett Medal. She served as the President of the Nomenclature Section of the 18th International Botanical Congress in Melbourne, Australia in July 2011.
Sandy is also the author of several popular books on the history of science and botany, including the award-winning Potted Histories (2004). She is the author of more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers and actively involved in promoting the role of taxonomy worldwide.
On biodiversity: ‘As the world becomes increasingly urban and globalised, people become disconnected from the natural world around them. To conserve diversity, we need to develop some sort of feeling for it… Knowing about organisms is part of what makes people care about them. Biodiversity isn’t just about the big, easily recognized species, it’s about the countless small species that might, individually, seem totally insignificant.’
Sandy is donating Chuño, a freeze-dried potato product traditionally made by Quechua and Aymara communities of Bolivia and Peru.
You make Chuño by leaving potatoes outside to freeze then dry out for five days and nights in the intense cold and hot sun of the Andean Altiplano. Once dry, they are trampled underfoot to remove the skins and help the subsequent freezing.
Chuño dates back to before the Inca Empire in the 13th century.
There are two varieties of Chuño:
White chuño is obtained by “washing” the frozen potatoes either by constantly spraying them with water or leaving them in a river before finally drying them in the sun again. In Bolivia, white chuño is also called tunta.
Black chuño is what you get without the final washing process.
Chuño can last for years and is added to all sorts of desserts and savoury dishes. It can also be ground into flour, which is an essential ingredient in many Peruvian dishes. In Bolivia, the traditional soup Chairo is made of chuño flour, meat and vegetables.
One of the great things about being a scientists is that you're always discovering something new...and the more I find out, the more I realise how little I really know.
Kevin is donating a smile. He regards it as an important tool of persuasion, manipulation and social lubrication.
Dr Lane Strathearn at Texas Children’s Hospital used fMRI scans to look at mothers’ brains when they hold their newborn. Seeing her baby smile lights up the reward centres in the mother’s brain in a way similar to that observed in experiments on drug addiction.
Genuine smiles are known as Duchenne smiles after the 19th-century neurologist who defined them in detail. They engage muscles both near the corners of the mouth and around the eyes – the zygomatic major and the orbicularis oculi respectively. Fake, “non-Duchenne” smiles exercise only mouth muscles.
Duchenne studied facial expressions by photographing his subjects as huge bolts of electricity were applied directly to their faces.
Fake smiles are known in smile-science circles as ‘Pan American’ after the fake grin of air hostesses on the now defunct airline.
In the late 1950s, about 150 female students at Mills College in California agreed to allow scientists to conduct a long term study of their lives. By comparing year book photos, it was found that those displaying the Duchenne smile were significantly more likely to be married, stay married, be happier and healthier throughout their lives.
Homer coined the term “sardonic grin” to describe ceremonial killings that supposedly took place in Sardinia, where Phoenician colonists gave to criminals an intoxicating potion that put a smile on their face. They were then dropped from a high rock or beaten to death, smiling all the time.
Smiling affects the way you speak; some people have “smilier” voices than others and listeners can identify the type of smile based on sound alone.
Kevin is a psychologist and researcher at the University of Oxford with a particular interest in social influence and, in particular, the study of psychopaths.
Kevin's first book, Flipnosis - The Art of Split Second Persuasion, looked at the ability of some people – from world leaders to con artists – to persuade us to do things that maybe we wouldn’t have done without their nudge. His subsequent books - The Wisdom of Psychopaths - Lessons in Life from Saints, Spies and Serial Killers and The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success (co-authored with ex-SAS chap Andy McNab) - explores the positive side of being a psychopath. He believes that psychopaths have a lot of good things going for them. They are fearless, confident, charismatic, ruthless and focused - qualities tailor-made for success in twenty-first century society.
His research has taken him to secret monasteries, Special Forces training camps and into prisons and maximum security hospitals to meet some of the world’s most dangerous people.
He says that 0.5 to 2.5 per cent of the population are psychopaths with it being much more prevalent in males than females. He stresses, however, that psychopathy is a spectrum. Many people have some psychopathic tendencies but, just because a person is a psychopath, it doesn't make them a serial killer.
Kevin believes his father was a psychopath: ‘It sounds like a crazy thing to say, but there’s no doubt at all about it. He wasn’t violent. One of the central messages of the book is that you don’t need to be violent to be a psychopath. My dad was a market trader but he was ruthless, fearless and also extremely charming. He was completely shameless and I never saw him embarrassed about anything. He could have sold shaving cream to the Taliban.’ He wrote The Wisdom of Psychopaths as an attempt to figure out his dad.
In 2011 he launched The Great British Psychopath Survey that measured levels of psychopathy across Britain. The survey suggested that the Number 1 occupation was CEOs, followed by media people, followed by lawyers, then surgeons and the clergy. All of these careers require a strong degree of professional detachment.
In 2013 he launched an on-line test during the Psychopath Night series of programmes and interactive events on Channel 4. It attracted almost 700,000 respondents. He discovered, among other things, that those with the least psychopathic traits preferred cats or kittens to many other pets while the most psychopathic individuals preferred pet fish.
Every society needs particular individuals to do its dirty work for it.