Deep-fried Mars bar
Stalking the Deep-fried Mars Bar
The History of the Scottish Diet Stereotype

Principal Investigator:

Christine Knight

Research Team:

The project sponsor is Professor Steve Sturdy.

Advisory board members include:


This project was funded through a Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Research Fellowship, 2013-17.


This project is investigating the history of the current stereotype of the Scottish diet, which is often associated with unhealthy, deep-fried foods, including the notorious deep-fried Mars bar. This stereotype is known to have negative effects on eating habits in Scotland.

The research is looking at the ways in which Scottish diet and nutrition have been portrayed in the media, government policies and reports, food advertising, and books such as recipe books. The project is examining both Scottish sources (how the Scottish diet is portrayed within Scotland, and by Scottish people themselves), and other UK sources (how the Scottish diet is portrayed by English-based media, for example).

The research draws on documents in archives and libraries across Scotland, in London and online, and also involves interviewing experts who work, or have worked, in the area of Scottish food and nutrition (for instance, in government, NHS, community organisations, industry, and journalism).



Christine Knight (2016) “Negative stereotypes of the Scottish diet: A qualitative analysis of deep-fried Mars bar references in bestselling newspapers in Scotland, 2011-14.” Appetite 103: 369-376.

Christine Knight (2016) “Deep-frying the nation: Communicating about Scottish food and nutrition.” Food and Communication: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2015. Ed. M. McWilliams. Totnes, Devon: Prospect Books. 206-215.

Please feel free to contact me for copies. Further project publications will be posted here as soon as they are confirmed as in press.


Findings have been presented to Scottish and international audiences, at events for food scholars, health professionals, and the general public:


In October 2015 the project featured in Scotland on Sunday. The story also appeared in the Daily RecordThe Courier, and Scottish editions of The Times and The Sun. I was also interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland Newsdrive. Previously, in February 2015 I was interviewed on Radio Adelaide (South Australia). You can also read more in the School of Social & Political Science newsletter Bricolage (June 2014).