Tony reveals secrets from the cold war - the exploding Tunnock’s teacakes

editorial image
Share this article

A former bomber pilot has revealed one of the RAF’s secret weapons of the Cold War - chocolate teacakes.

The popular treats were carried onboard the giant V bombers during the 1960s to keep the crew’s hunger at bay.

But the Tunnock’s teacakes were banned when they backfired and exploded at high altitude, covering the crew and cockpit in marshmallow and chocolate.

Former squadron leader Tony Cunnane, 78, who joined the RAF in 1953, said: “Crews would take lots of rations on long flights to snack on and we would be given lots of lovely jubbly high-calorie treats like biscuits and chocolate bars. One day we were given teacakes by chance and the crew loved them so we asked if we could have more.”

Crews noticed the mallow in the teacakes would expand as the air pressure changed at altitude giving an indication of height.

Experiments on effects of altitude pressure continued until several were left unwrapped on the instrument panel of a V-bomber - and exploded on a test flight.

Mr Cunnane, of Willow Park, Newton Hill, said: “We noticed that the teacakes would swell and expand when we reached high altitudes and the chocolate would crack.

“It became a bit of a signal to the crew when the altitude was increasing and during one flight, someone noticed that as the cabin altitude increased above about 15,000 feet, the marshmallow in a teacake would expand. Word quickly spread and notes were kept to show which brand was the most resistant to reducing air pressure.”

Mr Cunnane’s teacake tale features on his website,