No, GAME’s Christmas Tinner wasn’t real

Christmas is fast approaching, and social media is awash with recycled memes. Yes, even more than usual. In addition to guff about Die Hard being a Christmas movie, UK retailer GAME’s infamous Christmas Tinner appears to be doing the rounds again. Back in our day, it was only rubbish BBC Christmas specials that were repeated.

GAME’s Christmas Tinner was a marketing stunt that first hit social media in 2013. The high street retailer, who had a far bigger presence back then, conceived the idea of a full Christmas dinner in a tin, from starter to dessert. The joke here being that gamers will be too busy playing video games on Christmas Day to cook a proper meal.

The foodstuff inside was formed of several layers, starting with scrambled egg and bacon, followed by mince pies, a turkey dinner with all the trimmings – including sprouts and stuffing – and finally, at the bottom of the tin, a layer of Christmas pudding. Yours for £1.95.

As marketing stunts go, Christmas Tinner can be considered a huge success. News quickly spread of the multi-layered meal in a tin, crossing over from gaming sites into the mainline press. It even, believe it or not, made it onto Saturday Night Live in the US – with most of these pieces questioning whether anybody would be brave enough to tuck into it.

The campaign was such a hit, driving traffic to GAME’s online store, that they tried to replicate it in 2019 with refreshed vegan and vegetarian options.

If you’re wondering why you’ve never seen Christmas Tinner for sale in one of GAME’s stores, or perhaps why no tins have ever surfaced on eBay, there’s a very simple answer to this: the product didn’t actually exist. At least, not outside of a few mock-ups intended for promotional purposes. Upon visiting GAME’s website, those looking for the fabricated foodstuff were simply informed that it was out of stock. GAME’s Twitter accounts, meanwhile, duly echoed this.  

The ever-informative YouTube channel Did You Know Gaming donned its detective garb last December, finding that it was the work of one Chris Godfrey, who at the time was studying graphic design at university. After creating a satirical art piece similar to Christmas Tinner, Chris was headhunted by PR firm MHP Communications in 2013 to help create a promotional campaign for GAME. The image of the tin’s contents was, essentially, a handmade art piece formed mostly of gelatine, helping to give it a glossy look. As for the tins used in other materials, these were simply baked bean cans repackaged with Christmas Tinner labels.

Ten years on, it’s hard to think of other gaming-related marketing stunts as memorable as Christmas Tinner. It was very much a case of the right (faux) product at the right time, hitting social media when YouTube was exploding with creators who would gladly feast on the concoction for views. In fact, one YouTuber did attempt to hoodwink viewers by appearing to devour a tin on camera, later debunked as a hoax.

On the same token, advertising products that didn’t exist could also be perceived as dishonest – it seems more than a few people were eager to try a tin for themselves, and were left disappointed.  

Will we still be sharing images of Christmas Tinner on social media another ten years from now? Probably. Just like the Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas Special, it’s something that refuses to go away.