Don’t Eat None Of The Plum Pudding

Your fictional hosts are serving you pudding. Should you eat it?



Many a literary table has been bedecked with showstopper pudding. ‘Pudding,’ the Oxford Dictionary tells us, is ‘a cooked sweet dish served after the main course of a meal.’ Get ready for ‘a good helping of pudding.’


So is it: yes to fictional pudding? 

In Dickens’ Christmas Carol, Bob Cratchit is readying his aching stomach for a most ‘wonderful pudding.’

‘Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered–flushed, but smiling proudly–with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.’


Or should you kick the pudding and run?  

All of this festive optimism and hidden pudding deliciousness has proven too tempting for more grisly imaginations. What’s buried inside the pudding? Is it safe?

Agatha weighs in:

‘Hercule Poirot entered his bedroom,’ we read in The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding. ‘It was a large room well provided with radiators. As he went over towards the big four-poster bed he noticed an envelope lying on his pillow. He opened it and drew out a piece of paper. On it was a shakily printed message in capital letters.


Hercule Poirot stared at it. His eyebrows rose. ‘Cryptic,’ he murmured, ‘and most unexpected.’


The unlucky get trapped in the pudding

In Beatrix Potter’s Roly Poly Pudding two enormous rats look to pump up their pudding by stuffing it with poor Tom Kitten.

“Anna Maria,” said the old man rat (whose name was Samuel Whiskers), “Anna Maria, make me a kitten dumpling roly-poly pudding for my dinner.”

“It requires dough and a pat of butter and a rolling pin,” said Anna Maria, considering Tom Kitten with her head on one side….

‘Presently the rats came back and set to work to make him into a dumpling. First they smeared him with butter, and then they rolled him in the dough.’


And now the pudding is animate 

When Alice is dining with the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass, the pudding takes offence at her greed.

“What impertinence! I wonder how you’d like it, if I were to cut a slice of you, you creature.”

It spoke in a thick, suety sort of voice, and Alice hadn’t a word to say to it in reply: she could only sit and look at it and gasp.

“Make a remark,” said the Red Queen, “it’s ridiculous to leave all the conversation to the pudding.”



Your fictional hosts are serving you pudding. Should you eat it?


Header Photo: Alexander Andrews



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Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton