The maize, developed at a secret research site on the roof of the BBC’s Broadcasting House in London, will make those who eat it better, kinder, more patient, less prone to anger and more likely to read the Independent and listen to the Today programme, say its producers.
‘You’ll see the Jolly Green Giant looking more contemplative and less like an amiable version of the Incredible Hulk,’ said marketing and brand manager Michael Buerk. ‘The message is less virility and strength, more compassion and peacefulness. He’ll look a bit like Jesus, a bit like Buddha and a bit like Muhammad Ali. Or on the UK can, a cross between Thora Hird and Evan Davis.’
The painstaking process of moralising the maize meant observing the ethical behaviour of thousands of witnesses, each of whom only ate certain strains of the corn over a period of three years. Scientific manager Clifford Longley explained ‘At first this was tough, because the first trends we spotted tended towards identifying immoral maize, with test subjects exhibiting sociopathic tendencies. And we apologise sincerely to all those affected by the maize-induced savagery of Jeremy Paxman. And we’ll be offering creamed corn products for life to survivors there. Terms and conditions apply.’
But once the team had identified the malign maize strain, Melanium Phillipsii, they made short work of identifying the good corn, and quickly added salt, sugar and permitted stabilisers.
BBC Radio 4’s John Humphrys was quick to criticise the new food. ‘First I find it distasteful that these properties be assigned to a foodstuff much of which appears to remain totally unchanged after passing through the digestive system,’ he told the Food Programme. ‘But more importantly, the ethical issues around creating behaviour changing roughage of any kind deserves the kind of critical scrutiny my team relish. Please don’t put that bit in as it sounds like a weak pun. The bit about relish. The rest sounded good, I thought.’
BBC Worldwide, which is funding the new product, has had mixed fortunes with philosophically and ethically modified foods. Its non-dairy creamer of human kindness sells well in some territories, but its Schrodinger’s Cat Food, aimed at pet-owning quantum theorists, has performed poorly, achieving exactly 50% of its target sales. ‘It requires a lot more thought,’ said a spokesman. ‘Or maybe it doesn’t – who knows? We’ll be discussing that and more on Any Questions this week.’