Oatcake Day started in 2010 to celebrate the area and it’s delicacy. This year marks the tenth time we get to indulge in the day and appreciate them so let’s look back on how it all started. The following is a guest blog by local radio presenter, DJ and Oatcake Day founder, Terry Bossons.
On Tuesday 16th February 2010, I went out for a meal with friends instead of partaking in pancake day. Over a few drinks the idea of an Oatcake Day was brought up and my friends said if anyone could get the idea off the ground, it would be me. So I set up a Facebook page and pledged to promote the day if it hit one thousand ‘likes’, it did so in less than a day. The feedback was huge and supportive so a date needed to be set. A time frame of six months was suggested and I picked Sunday August 8th 2010 as the flagship day to launch the project.
That date was chosen as ”08/08” is six circles and reminded me of half a dozen oatcakes. It was also the day after my mothers birthday so meant she could have a double celebration. Promoting the idea using local celebrities holding an ‘I Support Oatcake Day’ sign started pretty much the week after that infamous meal.
Being a Port Vale fan, I started by getting some of the players to hold the sign. Pete Conway and Jonathan Wilkes were also at the match and wholeheartedly wanted to back the cause.
Not to have any bias, I then went to Stoke City the following week and the first person I bumped into at the training ground was Liam Lawrence. The Republic of Ireland international had heard of the oatcake but had never tried one. He said he would visit the canteen that instant and have a dabble. Within minutes he returned with a smile on his face stating how amazing and tasty it was. Liam still resides locally, after playing all over the country we reckon it’s our beloved oatcake that keeps him here.
Guitar legend, Slash performed his first gig in Stoke late in 2011 and I got to speak to his uncle Ian for local community radio station 6 Towns Radio to discuss this brilliant occasion. Uncle Ian relayed tales of Slash catching the bus in Longton as a kid and said he still loves the area. I had to ask Ian to send Slash an Oatcake Day T-Shirt and within a couple of weeks received a photo of the rock genius in the garment. Not long after this I got to meet Slash a few times and discussed oatcakes and was told he may have tried them but couldn’t remember.
The next time we bumped into each other Slash said he had asked management to get him some oatcakes and was disappointed when they gave him the Scottish ‘biscuit like’ oatcake on their own.
Hundreds more celebrities got behind the cause but the most surprising one for me was US rapper Coolio, famous for the worldwide hit “Gangsta’s paradise”. Coolio was in town to play a show at the then Liquid nightclub and I was sent to a secret location to interview him.
The chat went well and even though the rapper is famed for being a bad boy, they seemed to hit it off and I gave him one of the Oatcake Day T-shirts. Whilst getting into his car after the meeting, I heard my name being called, turning round he saw Coolio running down the path demanding a lift to Tesco! As a thank you, the star wore the T-Shirt on stage that night and bigged up the oatcake (he must of tried one in Tesco).
The USA must of been in need of our ‘Tunstall tortilla’ because star of the massive TV show, Storage Hunters. Jesse McClure was the next American to love it with his breakfast. Jesse came to the UK as a guest of mine to promote his TV shows and meet fans. Straight away, Jesse pledged his allegiance to Stoke City to wind me up as a ‘Valiant’. We became great friends and Jesse told his folks back home about oatcakes and after managing to get a recipe attempted to make his own. His mother still makes them for people now and a rumour of the first US oatcake shop in LA has been on the table for a while.
Oatcake Day hasn’t been without it’s challenges. Each year, Local Paper The Sentinel follows me and takes photos of the crusade. Obviously oatcakes need to be in shot but this can be a big headache. In 2012, I remember being asked to meet a Sentinel photographer who want a picture of me holding a dozen so I hopped in my car and headed to the nearest supermarket. after three unsuccessful attempts at three stores to buy them he decided to ask the bakery manager at Morrisons why there were none on display. “Are you mad?” the baker said. “You’ve got no chance of buying oatcakes on Oatcake Day, we sold out first thing!” I’ve learned to be better prepared since after being a victim of my own success!
My passion for our area is stronger than ever and everything I do, I do it to promote how good Stoke-on-Trent is. Whether that’s bringing guests to Stoke CON Trent, shouting about the good things in the city on my Radio Show or by going on a crusade to spread the love about Oatcakes, Stoke-on-Trent is home and I love it.