Alfred Bird’s place in the history of England was fixed forever when in 1837 he invented instant custard powder. It was marketed from 1875 and has been a hit ever since.
His wife’s allergy to eggs drove him to look for an alternative to the traditional custard. His solution was simple, a mix of cornflour, colouring and flavouring. Many a spotted dick and roly poly since have benefited from his simple sauce.
Not content with delicious deserts he went, on to invent baking powder too.
Alfred died in 1878 and was buried alongside my ancestors in Key Hill cemetery Birmingham.
What Alfred could never have forseen was the other great uses of his magic powder.
The main ingredient is cornflour and like many powders is highly flammable when blown into a flame.
“Exploding custard” is a Trademark of Ian Russel, who has been blowing it up for over 20 years.http://tinyurl.com/34hau26
Custard has also been the fluid of choice for exploring the unusual dilatant properties of suspensions of cornflour.
As shear force increases, the viscosity of the fluid rises in proportion. This means that hitting or stamping on it turns it almost solid.
Many people have taken this to extremes by walking on a vat of custard.
Notably Jon Tickle on Braniac in 2003.
Though i might add that in 2000 i did it myself with some kids for the BAFTA nominated ‘The Investigators”