The Rogue Employee Tin

For almost a century Huntley & Palmers biscuit tins have been seen on the tea tables of well-to-do Brits. What few of those Brits realized is that the tins contained a surprise... not in the biscuits themselves, but in the illustration on the outside of the tin. Apparently a rogue employee, early in the twentieth century, hid various sexually explicit scenes in the illustrations. For instance, a tin now up for sale at Lawrences Auctioneers in Somerset shows two dogs having sex in the flowerbed, if you look very carefully. Reuters has rather pruriently prudishly blurred the cover of the tin in the picture accompanying their article, so you can't see the dogs, but luckily Lawrences' itself has a picture of the tin, in which you can just see the dogs. They're in the flowerbed on the right-hand side.


Posted on Sun Apr 18, 2004


Actually, Reuters' blurring of the photo is the opposite of prurient, which means "inordinately interested in matters of sex." I think you meant prudish.
Posted by Mason Inman  in  Santa Cruz, CA  on  Sun Apr 18, 2004  at  08:01 PM
Yeah, that's what I meant. Thanks for catching that.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Sun Apr 18, 2004  at  08:09 PM
holy crap i cant see them. i think i'm going crazy.
Posted by Brooke  on  Sun Apr 18, 2004  at  09:29 PM
As a tin collector/hoax enthusiast, this really piqued my interest - so I searched on eBay, and there's one of these tins there now -- but apparently it's a recent tin, produced in 1980. The style is certainly more like tins of recent years than classic Huntley Palmers tins of years ago.

The eBay listing has blown-up photos and... there's apparently more hidden rudeness! Part of a dirty word on the jam jar (looks like "-hit") and also a couple doing it in the grass. Go to eBay and enter "Huntley Palmers tin" -- it's going for $200 last I checked!

This raises an interesting topic - hidden vulgarity on products - In the eighties, there was a can of air freshener (I can't remember what brand!) that had a lot of flowers on it and the photographer supposedly hid a picture of his scrotum in the photo. I've seen it, and like many things like this, it's sort of hard to tell.

Anybody know of other examples/supposed examples like this?

Posted by Josh  in  California  on  Mon Apr 19, 2004  at  01:19 AM
For the little mermaid movie artwork, a Disney artist altered a tower to look like a stylized penis...I believe Disney yanked the image rapidly, but I do recall seeing it on some publicity pieces...

Posted by Karen  in  Providence  on  Mon Apr 19, 2004  at  09:38 AM
The Little Mermaid story is just an urban legend, detailed below:
Posted by Mackenzie  on  Mon Apr 19, 2004  at  11:15 AM
Parts of the Disney/Mermaid story are urban legend...there are some elements that are accurate...the castle spire did have a resemblence to a phallus...but the company line was that it was 'inadvertent', the artist did not work for Disney directly, and was not upset at a pending lay-off

from the cited web site...

"Rush(ing) to complete the video artwork (featuring towers that were rather phallic to begin with), the artist hurried through the background detail (at "about four in the morning") and inadvertently drew one spire that bore a rather close resemblance to a penis. The artist himself didn't notice the resemblance until a member of his youth church group heard about the controversy on talk radio and called him at his studio with the news. "
Posted by Karen  on  Mon Apr 19, 2004  at  10:51 PM
I've read that the air freshener can was also just an accident.
Posted by Dean  on  Thu Apr 22, 2004  at  07:41 AM
Oh come on, folks.

If I want to see a naked person, I can just watch those reruns of the last Superbowl.
Posted by Joe Anonymous  on  Sat Apr 24, 2004  at  10:07 PM
Good gawd...who has time to sit around and look for sexually suggestive artwork these days? I guess if I were a repressed Bible thumper who felt guilty about every sexual thought I entertained, I'd become pretty obsessed too, though.

It reminds me of a period in my life during which I had to endure a dangerous operation and a period of successively working my way back to solid foods. After about 2 weeks of nothing but weak liquids and saline, I started to see food in every image, hear names of food products in every conversation, and even began to dream about orgies of roast duck and chocolate ice cream. Seems like the same psychology to me; only difference is, there's no religious agenda.
Posted by Sheldon  in  San Ramon, CA  on  Sun Apr 25, 2004  at  04:54 PM
RE: the disney little mermaid thing: I have (and will always treasure) the original box that came with the video. And, uh, inadvertant? The darned thing has veins and everything!
Posted by vamp  on  Wed May 19, 2004  at  01:11 AM
Don't knock the Little Mermaid thing. Disney REFUSES to sell the old cover. Ever wonder why? Anyway, here's a funny thing about the Little Mermaid that many people didn't catch the first time around. Don't get the DVD, get the old video, first release of LM and wacth where the priest is marrying them toward the end. Freeze the frame and check out the bizarre little bulge in the front of his robe. I'm not even kidding. I remember being floored when I saw this. I was told by friends of mine later that the people working in Disney's Animation Studios in Disney World (there are few people there, but they are really there so visitors can watch them) were forced to listen to this crappy soundtrack of different Disney songs all day long that kept repeating so they got back at Disney with their animation. That part could be rumor, though.
Posted by Ga  on  Fri May 28, 2004  at  01:53 PM
I have seen the picture on the video and I have heard other thing. in aladin when he is fghting off the tiger at the window he say very quitely "good teenagers take off their clothes" I couldn't believe it and their is supposed to be very rude things in snow white that are very faint in the bak ground when they are cleaning.
Posted by Haily  on  Mon Jul 19, 2004  at  04:57 AM
The Aladdin example below is just another urban myth, and it's been well established as false.

Most of these Disney rumors were started in the early to mid-1990s by little soccer moms and spread through church groups and other rumor mills. Teenagers (and those with teenage minds) just love them because they are usually sexual in nature, and elicit that little giggle of knowingness and naughtiness. This is no different than the back-masting craze of the 1950s and 60s, and people will hear what they want, see what they want, and believe what they want.

When in doubt, however, I often turn to That way, I have less of a chance to make a fool of myself.

For instance:
Posted by Sheldon  in  San Ramon, CA  on  Mon Jul 19, 2004  at  04:42 PM
...I get tired of telling people this, but the bit about the priest in the Little Mermaid? That's his KNEE. It's pretty obvious if you watch past that clip, when they show him from different angles. He's short and standing on a crate or something, if memory serves...
Posted by Ponygirl  on  Mon Sep 27, 2004  at  06:50 AM
Its not his knee, it was intended to look like his penis, but be ambiguous enough and have previous scenes including his knobby knees so that its not a blatent penis out there for all to see and make lawsuits.
Posted by Ian  in  MD  on  Wed Jan 26, 2005  at  01:19 PM
hi the tin with the naughty bits is called kate greenaway,and has 5 naughty bits on.i worked for a company in 1980s called associated biscuits who dispatched these tins and can remember them being recalled,we were told to keep some because they would become collectable.mine is still intact including biscuits never being opened at all.they also recalled some other tins by the same made the news in the daily mirror paper
Posted by chris  in  great britain  on  Mon Mar 07, 2005  at  01:29 AM
There were the Pepsi "SEX" cans in the 80's. When the cans were displayed on the shelves, the graphics on adjacent cans spelled out the word "SEX". It was unmistakeable. However, when the cans were removed from the shelf, in the indiviual six packs, the image went away. As I recall, you needed at least two, and perhaps four six packs stacked together to see the image.
Posted by Hiflyer  in  Fort Worth, TX  on  Sat Apr 16, 2005  at  01:05 PM
1. As far as the priest-erection thing in The Little Mermaid, I must say that I agree with this Ian person in that the so-called "knee" in the one particular scene WAS intended to look like a penis...and, to be put bluntly, the knobby-knees thing was just a cover.

2. The penis on the cover. I own the original Little Mermaid from 1990, and sex doesn't have to be on one's mind constantly to see the penis plain as day. I myself do not have sex on the brain constantly, and my mind is not forming the penis on the cover--I know what I see. I am very sexually satisfied and am not picking out potentially perverse things from Disney movies as a result of the non-existent lack of the former. One can plainly see the head of the penis, as well as veins. Someone please explain to me why on earth people actually BELIEVED this guy's claim that he "accidentally" drew a penis while rushing to finish? ACCIDENTALLY?! Come on! I'm sure men know more about the appearance of a penis than the rest of us (even if some of us women think we're pros...they've had it their whole life). For example, if I were drawing something, I would certainly know if what I was drawing resembled boobs or not--I know I would not "accidentally" throw a pair of tits in there just because I was tired and in a hurry.
Posted by Sara  in  Idaho  on  Wed Jul 13, 2005  at  09:20 PM
I am a proud oener of one of the Huntley and Palmers Rogue employee tins. It not only has the two dogs having sex, but also a couple in the flower beds. I am trying to find out if this tin will be of real value.
Posted by Carolyn  in  Madrid, Spain  on  Wed Sep 21, 2005  at  03:26 AM
Geesh. You are really gullible, if not worse, to believe inane sex-talk by people with little important to occupy their minds, if they are even capable of occupying their minds with anything of import.

It's like the picture of the little Manneken Pis easily picked out on the side of the camel on a pack of Camels. Why would some old advertising artist in the USA even be interested in putting him in there, even if he'd known the Manneken Pis existed? Yet, anyone who's succeeded in finding him can easily see him for the rest of his life.

The phallus was not really there, the knee was a knee, and not all that believable even when I'm LOOKING for it, and rather stupid to imagine someone could be so oddly...constituted. It's easier to imagine your parents conception of yourself. (I conceive of you as an idiot, myself, I do, I do.)
Posted by Piet Van Allen  in  San Jose, CA  on  Mon Jan 23, 2006  at  02:02 AM
Hi Carolyn, it depends on the state of the tin, collectors want them in mint condition, but i have seen some go on the tv programmeFlog It, for really good money. My tin was complete with the biscuits and was still in the wrapper, i put mine on ebay and got a good price, might be worth a try.
Posted by chris  in  wakefield  on  Fri Sep 24, 2010  at  07:56 AM
does anyone know the worth of 1964-65 Huntley and Palmers Biscuit tin, with Palace of Westminster of the front?
Posted by Erin  in  USA  on  Sat Oct 09, 2010  at  02:28 PM

Great Post!

I remember when the childrens TV programme - Captain Pugwash was taken off air because of Seamon Staines and Master Baites were suddenly discovered!

Great mate... Great!

Take care, Mary
Posted by Mary Black  in  Cambridge  on  Fri May 06, 2011  at  12:31 PM
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