What's the "Whale Tumour" (or "tumor") story/urban legend?

The Wkipedia entry on Urban Legends (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_legend) says “In the UK, urban legends are sometimes referred to as WTSes (Whale Tumour Stories), from a famous World War II story about whale meat.”

I could find nothing on Snopes on this story, except a reference to this book: http://www.snopes.com/sources/tumour.htm “The Tumour in the Whale (1978)” which I’m sure would have the story, but it’s only being sold used for 30 bucks on Amazon, which is a little more than I’d like to spend. Googling didn’t help, either.

What are the details of this story? And why doesn’t Snopes have a listing for it? Or did I just miss it somehow?

A little more info here of all places.

A little more info here of all places.

When I was a kid I used to call them “poodle in the microwave” stories after the old lady who supposedly tried to dry her poodle in a microwave oven after bathing it.

Oh, come on, you must have heard it. It’s famous story from WWII.

All together now

Whale meat again
Don’t know where, don’t know when …

:applauding in awe:

There’s a bit more on it in The Choking Doberman by urban legendologist Jan Peter Brunvand, p. 51:

Jan Harold Brunvand mentions the story in a few of his books, but as far as I know doesn’t have a really detailed account of it. On page 23 of The Baby Train (1993) he says that Rodney Dale “told a World War II story about whale meat sold in England as a beef substitute. Supposedly, someone saw a chunk of whale quivering in the fridge and upon examining it discovered ‘a live tumor gently throbbing.’”

See, it’s these kind of things that suck in perhaps one or two lurkers here. And they end up staying and paying.

You get a gold star.

For those who are interested, here’s Rodney Dale’s telling from The Tumour in the Whale, an absolutely essential book [1] of ULish anecdotes,

(By the way, Rodney hasn’t claimed credit for coining “whale tumour story.” That distinction, he notes, goes to his friend George.)

– Tammi Terrell

[1] London: George Duckworth & Co Ltd, 1978. ISBN 0-7156-1314-6. If you’ve an interest in ULs and “apocryphal anecdotes,” the book is well worth the $30, though you can sometimes get it cheaper if you’re patient. By the way, Dale’s recent The Wordsworth Book of Urban Legend (2005), available in paperback, is somewhat of an updated version of Tumour.

Thanks all! I knew it would be a nicely gross little tale.

Why would a tumor remain alive after being separated from it’s blood and oxygen supply, any more than any other piece of flesh?

Ok, so it’s just a gross-out story. Still…


It wouldn’t, any more than any other piece of flesh. It’s just a gross-out story.

The throbbing ruined my suspension of disbelief I have to say.

At least it didn’t burst, unleashing thousands of poisonous spiders.

Or Chihuahuaesque rodents.
There’s a shitload of vowels in “Chihuahuaesque,” aren’t there?

For the same reason that, in a later version of the story, a man orders a chicken filet sandwich, no mayo, and discovers that what he THOUGHT was mayo was actually YELLOW PUS SQUIRTING OUT OF A TUMAH! - because:

And some people never let logic get in the way of a good squicktale.