Pseudo-Pareidolia: I Spy A PR Pork Pie


Yes, Tommy Cooper, in a Steak Pie. What of it?

Yes, Tommy Cooper, in a Steak Pie. What of it?

Over the years we’re seen God in a toilet door, the virgin Mary on wet windows and jesus burnt into a cheese sandwich. Not to mention Mother Teresa the croissant, and all manner of other religious figures mystically coming through in a variety of unusual places, which is definitely down to the fact that God exists.

However, it’s not just the religious that get to come back from the grave to haunt our furniture, foodstuffs and everyday lives – a few months ago we covered on the show an image of the late Michael Jackson which had appeared in an ultrasound, so it seems of late it’s becoming easier to pass through the mystical doorway and re-enter this world, albeit confined to poor-quality images on mundane objects.

Which is why it should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone to see this amazing, wondrous, blessed meat pie, complete with image of 70s comedy legend Tommy Cooper.

Yeah, Tommy Cooper. And yes, a meat pie.

What’s more, miraculously and in no way suspiciously, the pastry effigy was found in the village of Trethomas – just a couple of miles from Cooper’s hometown of Caerphilly. Which proves it’s definitely genuine. Honest. I mean, it even featured in the Daily Mail

Chip shop owner Crad Jones discovered the image when eating his pie and chips in his shop in Caerphilly, South Wales, which was Cooper’s home town.

Mr Jones, 45, said he called the manufacturers, Peter’s Pies, when he noticed the silhouette so they could document his find.

Of course, it’s in no way suspicious that the manufacturer of the pie gets a nice big mention right there at the start of the story. This pie coincidentally had a photo of Tommy Cooper in it – of course the first thing you’re gonna want to know is which company the late funnyman chose to bless with his image.

Mr Jones said: ‘I was about to eat my lunch in the shop, as I normally do. I got my Peter’s pie, which I always have with chips and peas, and noticed the resemblance of Tommy Cooper on the bottom of it. The comparison was amazing. It was definitely Tommy Cooper.

Again, it’s in no way suspicious that Mr Jones referred to it as a ‘Peter’s pie’, I mean we all always cite the name of the pie company when we talk about what pie we’re eating. And we all look at the bottom of the pie before we tuck in, just in case there’s a mystical image of a deceased 70s funnyman there.

The story, quite rightly, got picked up by all manner of news sources, with the Metro, the Daily Mail, and other news sources using almost identical wording throughout their whole articles, which might sound suspiciously like the hand of PR but in fact makes perfect sense, because once one newspaper has gotten the details of this completely true story totally correct why bother writing it in your own words for other papers?

Chad Jones, Tommy Cooper, Meaningless PR-Piece.

Chad Jones, Tommy Cooper, Meaningless PR-Piece.

The story also got picked up in The Telegraph, which also dutifully and in no way suspiciously happened to mention the name of the chip shop Crad Jones runs:

Mr Jones owns The Codfather’s Plaice in Trethomas, Caerphilly, where Tommy was born in 1921.

But that makes complete sense because if he’s been blessed enough to make this miracle discovery, then his business deserves the extra public recognition a mention in a national newspaper attached to a weird and suspiciously-PR-like story would give him. What’s more, the following suspiciously-PR-heavy sentence from the Telegraph is, again, in no way unusual for a national newspaper puporting to be telling genuine news:

Fun-loving Mr Jones saw the funny side of Cooper in the £1.60 premier steak pie made by local baker’s Peters Pies.He said: “Tommy has always been in the upper crust as far as I’m concerned. “But I ate the pie straight after the pictures were taken. It went down a treat – just like that!”

Newspapers often run prices of pastries from prominent bakers amongst their re-telling of the day’s events – again, this isn’t blatantly PR at all.

The story was also picked up by local news too, with Walesonline.co.uk noting:

Staff at the PR company who distributed the picture were quick to deny yesterday that the image of Cooper on the pie was an elaborate publicity stunt.

Ah, it was distributed by a PR company. And featured in a range of credulous newspapers with near-identical wording. And featured very prominently the names of two businesses, one of which is a national chain. And even included a price guide for the national chain’s goods. And the photo is completely and utterly unconvincing, as if someone has just burned the vague shape of Tommy Cooper onto the bottom of the pie and thought ‘fuck it, I won’t bother trying to fuzz out these too-straight edges that look a lot like a stencilled or branded image, because people are stupid enough to buy this as a real news item’.

This MIGHT be PR. Hmm.

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  1. #1 by Barra on February 23, 2010 - 01:31

    Strange how the food cabinet is turned off and empty if he was cooking his lunchtime pies. Shop seems very dark and closed too to me, as if they’d shut to do a planned photo shoot! Muppets!

  2. #2 by Barra on February 23, 2010 - 01:36

    Food cabinet off and empty for a lunchtime and shop obviously closed, rumbled!! Ejits!

  3. #3 by Chris Segar on March 9, 2010 - 16:44

    Nothing suspicious about calling a pie a Peter’s Pie in South Wales. That’s to distinguish it from its rival, a Clark’s Pie, which has “Clarpie” baked into the base to prove its Cardiff origin. Peter’s Pies are made at Fleur de Lys in the Valleys, and Cardiffians don’t rate them. But both outclass Pukka Pies, which aren’t asked for by name.
    Nothing odd about the similarity of the stories: it was sold widely by a local agency, Wales News, who also took the picture – not when Crad was lunching, but some time later.
    Sorry to undo the conspiracy theories.

  4. #4 by Marsh on March 9, 2010 - 16:55

    Hi Chris

    To be honest, the bit I was mainly calling suspicious was the actual image of Tommy Cooper, and how that image allowed for the name of the pie manufacturers and the name of the chip shop to get into the papers.

    The tone of this piece was intended to be very much ironic – essentially what we’re seeing here is a non-story, where a clearly-homemade ‘weird image just happened to be there’ story is passed to a local media outlet and sold to wider press.

    So it’s not so much a conspiracy theory, but more an indication of the way pretty poor standards of journalism allow simple PR stories to get spread across multiple papers, producing a greater brand impact than a much more expensive advert or advertorial would.

    Apologies if the tongue-in-cheek tone I was taking obscured that point, I thought it was pretty transparent.

    Cheers!
    Marsh

  5. #5 by Patio Gal on April 7, 2010 - 12:35

    Want to know how honest this Crad Jones is? then Check out The Ferret from March 15th 2010. http://www.itv.com/wales/the-ferret01102/ see how good he is with a bucket!!!

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