Whether we can’t stop reading about the bakery that produced a 50 pound cookie or watching Joey Chestnut break his own hotdog eating record year after year, we are certainly a food obsessed species. From Ripleys Believe it or Not to social media influencers, the creativity and limitations we can push with food has always fascinated people. Here’s a list of some of the more unusual food stories that have made headlines.
- Prahlad Jani: the man who ate nothing. This man died as recently as 2020, so there is plenty of information and data, including a documentary, on the man who never ate or drank. Of course, that doesn’t mean there is skepticism. In fact, Prahlad’s entire explanation for his lack of diet was that the Hindu goddess Amba sustained him with all the nutrition he needed by dripping water through a hole in his palate. He was studied throughout the decades by doctors and on camera, occasionally leaving sight of cameras to get sunlight. This caused skepticism by viewers who believed he had devoted followers that gave him food and water off camera. Regardless, doctors did determine he was severely underweight and it was very possible his body’s lack of nutrients caused his metabolism to go into “survival mode,” slowing down and eventually sucking the nutrients from his other organs. His death was a private family affair and no cause or autopsy was given, or at least shown to the public. Whatever was really going on with Prahlad, he is quite famous for his interesting way of life.
- Tarrare: the man who ate everything. Whether this story is accurate or not, it’s certainly more disturbing than quirky. A rare, undiagnosed medical phenomenon affected a French man who went by the name of Tarrare who lived in the late 1700s. According to the only source to confirm this story, J. G. Millingen’s Curiosities of Medical Experience, written in 1838, 40 years after Tarrare’s death, this man had an insatiable appetite that was never satisfied, no matter how much or what he ate. Drawings and descriptions of him at the time show a thin, pale man with loose skin that would supposedly expand as he ate. Over his short life of 26 years, both growing up and his time in the army, he was said to steal food from others, eat trash from the street and consume raw meat by the pound. The fascination with his condition caused a doctor and war surgeon by the name of Pierre-François Percy to get involved and study him. Though no diagnosis was made, it was noted he ate multiple animals, including snakes, raw and expelled their bones and fur like an owl. He also consumed an entire 30 pounds of raw bull intestines. However, after a toddler went missing from the hospital, the doctors and nurses suspected him immediately and chased him off the property. It wasn’t until 1798 when Tarrare found Dr. Percy again as he was dying from tuberculosis. His autopsy results had some odd findings: apparently his mouth and throat were so large, there was a visible path to the stomach, which, by the way, was covered in ulcers. Again, this story does seem suspicious, especially if you consider the only other case like this in the world happened at the exact same time, with the exact same life story and the only source was Charles Dickens. Still, it makes you wonder…
- White Pearl Albino Caviar: most expensive food. At over $30,000 a kilo, this rare caviar is extremely hard to purchase. It comes from the roe of albino sturgeons, a fish that’s hard to find in the Caspian and Black Seas due to their uncommon genetic disorder. They can live up to a century, and the older they are, the softer and more delicate the caviar is. Often this caviar is replicated with snail eggs or even other fish roe, but the true stuff will leave you bankrupt.
- Cheese: the most stolen food in the world. According to Time magazine, a study was done on food stealing and it was determined people steal cheese more than anything else, which is surprising since almost 70% of the world has a lactose malabsorption. A rough data estimate showed that 90.6 million tons of cheese is stolen globally, which, claims say, is easy to steal because it’s considered a “C.R.A.V.E.D.” item. This stands for Concealable, Removable, Available, Valuable, Enjoyable, and Disposable. We don’t condone stealing, but next time you go shopping, notice the lack of security by the cheese section as opposed to the clothing section.