Our quaint retro Wee Britain customs have perplexed Cameron from Hamilton, New Zealand:

I was recently listening to some earlier episodes of
Answer Me This! and you were asked a question about beefeaters.

In my city we have a restaurant called Beef Eaters, and your answer to the question confused the crap out of me because I got the impression that beefeaters are people.

So answer me this, what are beefeaters? Perhaps this is a British thing which is not replicated where I come from, in New Zealand.

Indeed, it’s a British thing that’s not really replicated even in the rest of Britain that isn’t the Tower of London. But your fellow countrypeople are not completely estranged from the custom – look!

So as you can see, your suspicion was correct: beefeaters ARE people, indeed a crack team of yeoman warders who act as living breathing tourist attractionsceremonial guardians of the Tower of London.

Their beef-eating name, by popular legend, came from the notion that they had to taste-test the monarch’s food (beef – monarchs love beef) for poison, but more realistically from the fact that they used to be partially paid in beef.

Just to cause you extra confusion, Cameron, there IS also a restaurant chain here called Beefeater, but unlike the beefeaters, it was not founded by Henry VII in 1485.

Furthermore, there’s also Beefeater Gin, which even more confusingly contains no beef and cannot be eaten as it is a drink.


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