Scotland and the deep-fried diet

Flinders visiting international researcher Dr Christine Knight says deep-fried Mars bars have become the emblem of Scotland.
Flinders visiting international researcher Dr Christine Knight says deep-fried Mars bars have become the emblem of Scotland.

Deep-fried Mars bars and deep-fried pizza are Scottish emblems in the British media.

True or false, Scotland’s stereotypical deep-fried diet has become part of a “vicious cycle”, Flinders University’s latest international visitor Dr Christine Knight says.

Dr Knight, a Visiting International Research Fellow from the University of Edinburgh, UK, will present her ongoing research into the negative stereotype of the Scottish diet in the UK media and popular culture at a free public seminar next Tuesday (February 17).

“The Land of the Deep-fried Mars Bar” – Stereotypes of the Scottish diet in the UK media will explore how the Scottish diet stereotype circulates through the press, becoming part of a vicious cycle with negative effects on eating habits.

“In 1995 the UK media reported that a Scottish fish and chip shop had invented the deep-fried Mars bar,” Dr Knight says.

“The story went viral and since then the deep-fried Mars bar has become an emblem for the poor Scottish diet in the UK press,” she says.

“Scotland has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, and significant problems with related illnesses like heart disease. But by continuing to highlight the stereotype, the media reinforces and encourages poor eating habits, creating a vicious cycle.”

According to Dr Knight, different media present the stereotype differently.

“The pattern of using Scottish food culture to express national tensions within the UK can be traced back to at least the 18th Century, for example using haggis.

“Some Scottish media outlets display a sense of national pride about Scotland’s notorious deep-fried foods, but others are much more critical, focussing on healthier Scottish produce like salmon and raspberries.

“My aim is to understand these differences so we can help to break the vicious cycle.”

Dr Knight, the Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh, joined Flinders School of Health Sciences in January on a one-month Visiting International Research Fellowship.

As part of her fellowship, she is working with Dr Jessie Gunson on the importance of iconic national foods in national identity in Australia, Scotland and around the world.

“The Land of the Deep-fried Mars Bar” – Stereotypes of the Scottish diet in the UK media will be held at Flinders University Victoria Square, Level 2, Room 2.02, on February 17 from noon- 2pm. Book by February 13 to Jessie Gunson: jessie.gunson@flinders.edu.au or 8201 7646.

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