You Can't Have Your QSL and Eat it Too by Don Moore (The following article was originally published in issue #97 of Review of International Broadcasting.) I dug out the article again a couple of days ago. After almost ten years it's yellow and a little tattered. Looking at it, it's hard to believe it changed Shortwave Listening as much as it did, Originally the article appeared in the weekly International Edition of the Christian Science Monitor, on page 10 in the August 23, 1983 edition; probably around the same time in the daily stateside edition.
At the time I was living in Santa Barbara, Honduras as a Peace Corps Volunteer. A friend had subscribed to the CSM for me as a gift. I guess that particular issue arrived about the end of August. I recall reading the article, then thinking about it, and finally clipping it to save. Throughout the next year it kept coming to my thoughts. In August, 1984 I sat down and wrote an article about it. The article was soon published in a prominent SW journal, and apparently soon forgotten. So it was, by the listeners, but as it turned out, not by the stations.
What article do I speak of? It's titled "Japanese novels aren't just good, they're delicious," written by Geoffrey Murray. You can look it up. It tells how a Japanese company had developed a process to mix dried food and certain chemicals to make an edible paper that not only was nutritious, but could be made to taste like almost anything. Now you know. I am responsible for the edible QSL.
As the tenth anniversary of the article approaches, I thought it might be interesting to recap the development of the edible QSL for the many newer hobbyists. It seems there are so few of us around now who can still remember the days when you couldn't eat your QSL cards. I've always kept track of anything pertaining to the edible QSL. I just do it. I don't know why anymore.
July 1. 1986: ORF, Austria, announces in its broadcasts that all reception reports from that day forward would be verified with its new edible QSL. The card, they say, tastes like apple strudel. The reports flow in.
August. 1986: The first ORF apple strudel QSLs begin arriving in SWLs' mailboxes. Reaction best summed up by the QSL editor of FRENDX, "Tasty especially with a glass of cold milk." Meanwhile, other stations are scrambling (no pun intended) to keep up with this innovation.
September. 1986: Radio Sweden becomes the second station to issue an edible QSL with its "Swedish Meatballs", which soon becomes a big hit with SWLs worldwide. By month's end Voice of Greece announces its "Moussaka" QSL and RAI brings out its "Lasagna" card. The RAI card is generally regarded to be as bland as their programming--most SWLs prefer Chef Boy-Ar-Dee.
October to December. 1986: The list of stations issuing edible QSLs grows longer as BBC adds its "Yorkshire Pudding" card (still a no-data verie), Radio France its "Strawberry Crepes", Spanish Foreign Radio's "Shrimp Paella", and Radio Netherlands 'Dutch Apple Bread". Even Radio Moscow joins in with a variety of popular ethnic dishes of the Soviet Union. And can we ever forget trying to eat IRA's "Bagel" QSLs?
January. 1987: Amid reports that Radio Moscow listenership in the Third World has quintupled since it began issuing edible QSLs, VOA prepares to launch a counteroffensive. In the House, members debate what flavor should represent the USA. Representative Charles Dershem of Texas and Rep. William Ralston of Alabama, proponents of Texas-style chili and southern fried chicken, respectively, break into a display of fisticuffs on the House Floor. Rep. James Schmidt of Pennsylvania proposes shoofly pie amid cries of "sickoo!" A compromise is reached in favor of apple pie.
February. 1987: Twenty-two stations now have edible QSLs. HCJB sends out its first "Communion" QSL complete with instructions on how to take it and receive forgiveness for your sins. A worldwide theological debate begins.
March, 1987: WRNO announces it will change the recipe for its "shrimp creole" cards after receiving hundreds of complaints that it was much too spicy. The US Postal Service refuses to handle Radio Japan's "Sushi-raw fish" QSLs under the dangerous substances act.
April. 1987: Radio Earth, in an attempt to be futuristic, announces its first edible QSL: soybean paste. Within ten days their mailbox is empty. Elsewhere in the USA, as most listeners find VOA's apple pie QSLs inferior to the apple strudel of ORF, VOA adds more flavors, including cherry, blueberry, and peach. Meanwhile, the Voice of Nicaragua comes out with its "Revolutionary Banana Creme Pie" edible QSL, so named they announce, "because the bananas are grown by free Nicaraguan peasants, not multinational fruit companies."
May, 1987: Radio Earth succeeds big with its "Curacao Liqueur" card; the mailbox is full once more. By now 37 stations send out edible cards.
July, 1987: Radio Maracaibo, Venezuela, brings out an excellent series of edible tropical fruit QSLs. including mango, pineapple, papaya, picaya, and banana. Unfortunately, since they never answer reports, nobody gets to try any.
August, 1987: US FDA bans importation of all veries from South Yemen after they are found to be contamifiated by bubonic plague virus. Voice of Nicaragua's banana creme pie card wins the first annual RIB edible QSL popularity poll.
September, 1987 Radio Mexico issues its edible "Tamale" QSL. Soon after, DXers worldwide start moving their rigs into the bathroom.
January, 1988: RCI issues the first "Do it yourself" edible QSL, chocolate cake (add 1 cup water, and one egg, beat for 30 strokes, then bake in a greased 6x4" pan at 3500 for 30 minutes).
May, 1988: A DXer in Australia finds out exactly what the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Service's odd-tasting "Tabieta" QSL really is. The Tabietas are blood enemies of SIBS station manager Jim Arekoi's cannabalistic Shetiu tribe.
July, 1988: A prominent DXer laments in the newsletter Fine Tuning "Edible QSLs are dangerous. Last month I had 169 countries verified. Now I'm down to 107 and still eating!" A shadow world of compulsive QSL eaters is revealed.
August, 1988: Several more prominent DXers admit to problems in eating too many QSLs. "QSL Overeaters Anonymous" is formed. Regional support groups and a hotline are set up. NASWA tries to help by urging stations to issue less tasty QSLs. Radio Earth's "Curagao Liqueur" card wins the second annual RIB edible QSL popularity poll.
February, 1989: The first QSL riots begin. On February 10, the tiny "Le Journal du Togo" prints a rumor that VOA is heavily dosing the edible QSL cards it sends to the third world with contraceptives. In minutes, thousands of protestors have converged on the US Embassy. It soon becomes a riot and half of Lome is burned to the ground. The story is picked up worldwide and similar accusations are made towards Deutsche Welle and Radio Australia. Within hours, embassies of these countries are besieged as riots begin in Bogota, Lima, San Jose, Asunc16n, Buenos Aires, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Istanbul, Amman, and capitals of 23 African nations. The VOA relay in Monrovia, Liberia is destroyed when four frenzied tribesmen steal a bulldozer from a nearby construction site (three are electrocuted in the process; the fourth gets hired by Radio Moscow).
March, 1989, Most riots have ended although many small nations ban the importation of QSLs. The UN sets up the Edible QSL Regulatory Board.
Well, you all know the rest. To receive the UN stamp of approval, all edible QSLs must be processed under supervision of a UN EQSLRB inspector. Without that they are not allowed in the international mails. Sure, some slip through without it, but nobody would eat those. I kind of wish a few more stations would try to slip nonapproved QSLs through, though. It would be nice to start saving my QSLs again, instead of eating them.