Spotted dick, the Victorian suet pudding whose name has provided sniggers for generations of schoolboys, is being renamed after an outbreak of prudishness.

Housewives are said to have become so embarrassed at the prospect of asking for the dessert that Tesco is to call it Spotted Richard. 

After watching helplessly as sales figures dropped, the supermarket surveyed hundreds of female shoppers to discover the reason. They still loved the taste of spotted dick, they said, but found the name too saucy. 

In an age where incestuous kisses on TV's EastEnders barely elicit a flushed neck, it is perhaps refreshing that a double entendre can still produce excruciating titters. "Our research showed that people are actually embarrassed by the name," a Tesco spokesman said. "Can you imagine a lady going up to a male assistant and asking where she can find a spotted dick?" 

What about a nice big tart? "Tarts? No, we don’t seem to have a problem with tarts," the spokesman added. "We noticed that all our traditional puddings were selling very well — apple pies, crumbles — but for some reason sales of spotted dick were dropping off. So we carried out some taste tests and they all said they loved it, it was just the name. We hope we will ease customer embarrassment and increase sales." 

Officials at the Pudding Club, which promotes traditional British desserts, were left choking on their custard creams. "We are absolutely outraged by this," said Simon Coombe, the club's chief taster. "Spotted dick has always been spotted dick and there is no reason to change that. I have no intention whatsoever of following this ridiculous example and will continue to use the name spotted dick." 

There is no clear answer as to how the pudding got its name. One school of thought is that the finished pudding looks like a spotty dog, and in the 19th century dogs were often called Dick. In Lobscouse and Spotted Dog, the cookery book based on the Jack Aubrey naval stories, it is suggested that "dick," "duff" and "dog" in names of puddings are variants of "dough."