Stoke-on-Trent celebrates Oatcake Day 6
REBEL Editorial || August 8th
Today marks the 6th Oatcake Day, the celebration of not only Stoke-on-Trent's finest and most famous cuisine, but also the heritage of the city itself. Set up by Terry Bossons, he is a man still on a mission to make Oatcake Day a national holiday for everyone in the city of Stoke-on-Trent. REBEL spoke to Terry about where the idea came from.
I had the idea on Pancake Day 2010, whilst out having a meal with some friends - I love pancake day and wanted to do something similar for Stoke that had would unite our city and obviously wasn't religious - even though to some people it is something they do religiously. The idea was to get 1000 likes on Facebook, and then try to make it a national day. As anyone who knows me will agree, I love a challenge.
My mission was to promote Stoke-on-Trent, a place that I love and unfortunately gets loads of bad press for the wrong reasons. The first celebrity on board was Stoke player Liam Lawrence - I met up with him and he said he hadn't tried one, so would go to the Stoke canteen and sample one - he came back 30 minutes later converted and held the make shift 'I support Oatcake Day' sign I had with me! Over the next few weeks I contacted loads of celebrities and had to get a laminated sign because they all said they wanted to support it.
I am a lover of music and Squeeze was a band I liked as a kid. So when Glenn Tilbrook came to town, he agreed to have a photo if he could keep the sign (which is still on the wall in his tour bus). After that I met hundreds of famous faces who all had a photo - I had to explain what an oatcake was to some but most loved the idea and were amazed by who I had onboard; Rio Ferdinand, Ricky Gervais, Plan B, Example etc made the campaign viral because their fans shared the photos.
Each year I put on shows to promote it, and was able raise loads of money for local charities. I was approached by local author Dave Lee to make a book and it sold a few hundred copies and included most of the photos I had taken plus quotes and recipes. We called the book 'An oatcake is for life not just for breakfast' - which is a Pete Conway quote. Loads of merch is out there now, including T-shirts - Slash has two t shirts and wears them and also tweets about Oatcake Day . Coolio wore one on stage to sing 'Gangstas Paradise' a few years back. It blows my mind how a simple idea I had to unite the area is actually now a thing.
After seeing the simple idea grow into the popular annual event, we were keen to hear of Terry's reaction to how Oatcake Day is now perceived by the public of Stoke-on-Trent.
I went shopping last year to buy a load of oatcakes for promo and the supermarket that usually has baskets full were sold out. I asked a ship worker if there were any in the stock room and he laughed and said 'It's Oatcake Day mate, you'll be lucky to get some'
On social media it's crazy, thousands of tweets nationwide trending each year, it's still beggars belief. I still want it to be a holiday for the people of Stoke, like the holidays that we already get that don't mean anything. The phrase 'Oatcake Day' is now a registered trade mark because companies have been selling stuff that was for their own gain, which in itself is a testament to how far Oatcake Day has come. I even appeared on TV, on Simon Cowell's Food Glorious Food and made oatcakes for Carol Vorderman and Lloyd Grossman who absolutely loved them. The idea of the show was to market a local delicacy nationwide - in a way, I'm glad they didn't win because we want them here and if outsiders want a taste they need to visit our fair city.
The ex pats love the idea but obviously can't pop down to a local oatcake purveyor. They make their own and tell me about how their friends are hooked. I've seen people in Australia eating oatcakes on the beach and I love the photos we get of people introducing the next generation to the humble oatcake. Jesse McClure from Storage Hunters came to the UK to do some promo with me and I got him addicted. His mum makes up batches in the US and he hopes to open a shop there one day.
Terry Bossons, director of 6 Towns Radio, carries Oatcake Day proudly into its 6th year, is clearly looking forward to yet another grand day, and summed up perfectly everything that the day stands for.
Celebrate the city we love by eating oatcakes and being positive about the area. The day is to reflect, and to embrace the great place we live in, it's heritage and its future. We have so many great things going on and so many projects like REBEL who share my love of The Potteries, so let's not take it for granted.