Thanks to hipster cafes and endless amounts of cookery shows nowadays, food is definitely getting weirder. So weird, in fact, that people appear to be running out of actual edible food. Trendy eateries might serve breakfast in a mason jar and split coffee into three separate cups, but at least this is actual–if hugely pretentious–foodstuff. For some people, though, presenting your food in a weird way isn’t enough. It has to be weird too, and this usually means eating objects and human remains. Nice!
Some of the weird items on this list are technically edible and are genuine cultural dishes, but they’re still pretty nasty nonetheless. A few of these bizarre compulsive eaters have made a career out of chowing down on weird-a** things. No fair, I wish I could get rich off eating Nutella straight from the jar (not weird enough?).
As well as the people who eat objects as part of their ‘performance art,’ there are some very odd people on this list who have a strange addiction to things no one in their right mind should be addicted to. Who’s in the mood for some used diapers? How about the foam in your armchair or your late partner’s ashes? If you thought you knew someone with a weird food craving, think again. Here are 15 of the weirdest things people have ever tucked into…
15 Dirty Diapers (New York)
No, you’re not imaging things. One woman actually enjoys sniffing, sucking, and chewing on used diapers (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d be saying). 25-year-old New Yorker Keyshia appeared on the TLC series My Strange Addiction a few years back, and if you didn’t happen to catch footage of her inhaling dirty diapers and sucking on the contents, then lucky you, you didn’t almost throw up in your mouth (although you might when you hear why she does it!).
According to Keyshia, the diapers taste “amazing” and “have a sour candy-like flavor.” Also, she prefers the diapers to have urine in them. “The heavier ones that have more pee smell better,” says she. Of course, because only eating those filled with number 2’s would be unthinkable. Keyshia gets her fix by collecting soiled diapers from friends and even strangers, and while pregnant with her first child, her “cravings” apparently got worse. How could it possibly get much worse than this?
14 Fried Tarantula (Cambodia)
I personally believe that anyone who keeps a tarantula as a pet in this world has more than a few screws loose, so to go from petting and picking up one of these hairy beasts to actually putting one in your mouth? Hell to the no. No cash prize would be big enough to convince me that this was a worthwhile activity. In some parts of Cambodia, though, munching on fried tarantula is totally and completely normal. Hmm, a talking unicorn that pooped gumdrops is my idea of normal compared to this!
Fried eight-legged freak is the delicacy in the Cambodian town of Skuon and is quite popular with tourists. Once you’ve done all your sightseeing I suppose, there’s simply nowhere better to visit than spider snack village. Apparently, deep fried tarantula became a popular dish after the Cambodian Civil war as prisoners faced starvation under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970’s. We get that people ate this when they were desperate, but Cambodians do know about chocolate now, right?
13 An Armchair (UK)
If you go round to this girl’s house as a guest, you better be sure you brought your own stool to sit on because this particular woman loves to eat armchairs. 28-year-old Vicky Cullen from the UK has a very odd eating addiction indeed. She can’t stop munching on the bits of foam padding on her armchair. What began as an unusual craving for sponge when Vicky was pregnant soon spiraled out of control, and she now tears her furniture apart to make snacks and meals out of. No joke!
As well as eating the foam padding straight from her armchair and couch (you gotta love food on demand), Vicky also likes to eat dish sponges and sometimes cuts them up into squares to add to her cooking. If she’s only in the mood for a quick snack, however, she normally just cuts up pieces and spreads on a little jam or butter. Jam, butter, sponge—it all sounds normal if you imagine a Victoria sponge, not a Chesterfield.
12 Human Toe Cocktail (Canada)
We wish we were kidding with this next entry, but no, this isn’t some cute name for a Halloween special in a Canadian bar. This is the real deal. The “Sour toe cocktail” as its known in the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon serves up a genuine dismembered human toe floating in a liquid of your choosing (as if this will somehow disguise the fact your lips are in the vicinity of a dead person’s big toe).
That’s another thing—only the big toe is used, no pinkies. You know, just to make the drink even cuter. Most people wouldn’t agree to drink this if they were completely hammered, but the Sour toe cocktail certainly has a small yet dedicated fan base. The cocktail was born when a guy’s frostbitten toe was discovered by Captain Dick Stevenson in a jar of moonshine in 1973. He immediately agreed that the toe needed to be in a drink and the rest is his-toe-ry (sorry).
11 House Keys (UK)
We’ve all been guilty of forgetting where we left our house keys sometimes, but in the case of this guy, he had a very good excuse—he was drunk and swallowed them in a bid to stay out partying all night. In 2008, 18-year-old student Chris Foster swallowed the keys to his student flat on a night out after friends had told him he was too drunk and were planning to take him home. Foster didn’t want to call it a night, though, and ate the 5-centimeter-long key just to make sure he couldn’t go home.
As he’d had quite a bit to drink, Chris had no memory of his crazy stunt the following morning and believed friends were pranking him when they said his key was in his stomach: “I was given an X-ray and was stunned when I saw my key in there, but then I couldn’t stop laughing.” Doctors advised he let nature take its course and disgustingly, Chris put it back on his key ring as if nothing had happened. But as he rightly points out, he couldn’t afford to have a new one cut for him on his tight student budget.
10 A Husband’s Ashes (Tennessee)
Grief does very strange things to people, and when we lose someone special, we still want them to be a part of us. But, this is never meant to be taken literally. Unfortunately, an American widow named Casie never got the memo about her loved one living on in spirit. 32-year-old widow Casie from Tennessee misses her husband so much that she made the decision one day to fill the void of loneliness and desperation...with her late husband.
Casie carries her husband’s urn with her everywhere she goes and occasionally dips her fingers into the ashes and sucks it up as if it’s some kind of delicious grey sherbet. Originally, Casie was only carrying the urn around with her to keep him close, but when some of the ashes accidentally spilled onto her fingers, rather than brush him away, she licked her fingers clean. Casie’s story first appeared on the show My Strange Addiction back in 2011, so I doubt that there’s much more of her husband left.
9 Fish What? (Japan)
Fish eggs have been a much-loved delicacy for over a century and are frequently served in all the snazziest restaurants and palaces around the world. So, how come fish sperm hasn’t received the same warm welcome? (Looking at the picture above might have answered this question for me). I’ve never tried caviar, but if I were to be picky, I’d say that fish semen doesn’t look quite as visually appealing.
In case you ever feel like ordering this, “Milt” is the way polite society refers to a fish sperm dish as. In Japan, where milt is most popular, it is referred to as Shirako or “white children”. Fish...essence is enjoyed in other parts of the world too. In Russia, the dish Moloka is the milt of a pickled herring served on toast and in parts of Italy, fish sperm is known as “Lattume” and comes from tuna. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much you disguise it with words, it's still gross.
8 A Full Adult-sized Coffin (France)
A French entertainer named Michel Lotito ate some very bizarre things as part of his act, and over the years, it earned him the appropriate nickname “Monsieur Mangetout” (roughly translated as ‘the man who eats everything’). To be honest, we could have just filled this list with everything Mr. Lotito ate because the stuff he gobbled up over the years is insane. Aside from eating a full-sized coffin (with the handles), Monsieur Mangetout also consumed 18 bicycles, 15 shopping carts, 7 TV sets, a small section of the Eiffel Tower, and a full Cessna 150 Airplane.
Perhaps by eating a coffin, he was trying to own his own mortality. It was certainly impressive of him to make it to nearly 60 years old after eating (and passing) a warehouse worth of stuff. In spite of a clearly strong stomach and forgiving intestines, Lotito oddly couldn’t stomach hard-boiled eggs and found it hard to digest bananas. You heard it here first. If either of these is your favorite food, you’ve officially trumped the man who once ate a plane!
7 A 10-pound Hairball (New England)
You probably knew that one friend at school who would have a habit of sucking on her hair. But if you ever knew someone who had a fondness for going one further and eating her hair, then she may soon be coughing up something that looks like this. Seriously gross. In 2007, an 18-year-old girl from New England, USA went to the doctors complaining of severe stomach pains that had gone on for months, and this horrific 10-pound hairball Furby was the culprit.
As it turns out, the girl suffered from a compulsive hair-eating condition known as Trichophagia and had consumed so much of her own hair over time that when doctors used a camera to locate the pain in her abdomen, they found a hairball that was almost equal to the size of her stomach! Yuck! Once surgeons finally removed the colossal ball from her stomach, the girl lost 40 pounds in weight (and hopefully the urge to chew her own hair too).
6 Fruit Bat Soup (Guam)
Our other ‘technically edible’ item on the list is a fruit bat—specifically, a fruit bat lying in a perfectly nice vegetable soup. This disgusting dish is a delicacy on the island of Guam and is prepared in a surprisingly casual way. The bat is rinsed, boiled, and added to a bowl of chopped vegetables and coconut milk. But, if you think that the preparation and appearance of fruit bat soup screams medieval, you ain’t heard nothing yet.
The few people with a taste for fruit bat soup can actually be putting their health at risk. Fruit bats are known to eat plants that can cause neurological diseases in humans. Eat one too many bowls of fruit bat stew and you may risk being diagnosed with anything from Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease. So, just in case the appearance alone doesn’t make you gag, this should definitely put you off.
5 False Teeth (Romania)
Unlike a lot of the so-called “food” items on this list, this woman never intentionally had an appetite for false teeth. Let’s just say a moment of passion went slightly awry (make that very awry) and she ended up swallowing her lover’s false pearly whites! Eww, not cool! Apparently, the Romanian woman and her partner were “experimenting” with different seduction techniques when she accidentally downed his dentures. They can’t have read the kama sutra, right? Because I don’t remember this particular passage.
We can’t imagine what kiss they were trying out, but it had to have been pretty full-on for this to happen! Apparently, the woman neglected to tell the doctors at first what she had swallowed, only that something was stuck in her stomach and it was causing pain. Embarrassingly, for the poor woman, an x-ray never lies, and staring back at her in front of the hospital staff were her man’s dentures. Could have been worse—like an adult toy.
4 20 Cobblestones (China)
This wasn’t part of an act or an attempt to set a new world record, the woman reported to have swallowed 20 cobblestones did so after an argument with her boyfriend. Umm, what? We can’t be sure what the quarrel was about but how on Earth do you get from a disagreement to feeling the urge to shove 20 stones down your neck? Maybe the boyfriend was threatening to destroy her rock garden so she assumed they would be safer in her intestines?
Whatever the reason for this weird stunt, the young woman from China soon regretted it when she suffered horrendous discomfort as she could feel the stones actually knocking against each other in her stomach (shudder). She had hoped they might pass through her system a few days later, but the pain worsened and she needed surgery to remove the stones. After everything she went through, I wonder if the argument was ever actually resolved.
3 Bed Springs (North Carolina)
Here’s proof that if it were needed, some people will do anything to get out of jail if only for a few hours. One prisoner from North Carolina chewed up and swallowed his bed spring just to get taken out of his cell and into a hospital bed. They say a change is as good as a rest, but I’m not sure how relaxing his brief taste of freedom could have been with coiled metal springs clogging his intestinal tract. Unbelievable!
While doing time at the Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina, this inmate threw both caution and sanity to the wind when he decided to munch down on some good ol’ bed springs. In their recklessness, some prisoners have been known to swallow batteries and other dangerous makeshift meals just to get a change of scenery. As harmful as batteries can be, the notion of bed springs scarping away in your stomach is infinitely more cringe-worthy and lets you know how desperate this guy had to be.
2 15cm Nails (Ethiopia)
Before we go into detail as to just how many nails this man ate willingly, it’s kinda fun to know that his siblings said that he was “never fussy about food” and that he “ate whatever was put in front of him.” Obviously. Good thing neither his brother or sister fell asleep on his plate. Back in 2001, 40-year-old Gazehegn Debebe from Ethiopia was found to have consumed around 222 metal objects (around 750 grams worth of metal). Ouch!
In this mass of metal which included coins, watch batteries, and hairpins, the bulk was made up of 15-centimeter-long nails. Surgeons at the hospital in Addis Ababa were astonished that the length of the nails didn’t perforate his gut on the way down. Because Gazehegn had eaten this assortment of metal over a 2-year period, his stomach lining had gradually thickened to accommodate all kinds of inedible items. His family was just as puzzled as to why he ate all this metal as the surgeons were, but a previous history of mental illness may have played a part in it.
1 Light Bulbs (New Jersey)
The oddball pictured above is US entertainer Todd Robbins who is primarily known for eating light bulbs and has eaten more than 5,000 of them to date. (Personally, I think Robbins missed a trick by not re-naming himself Mr. Watts). Todd Robbins began his career as a touring magician in the 1980’s, and eventually, his party trick of ingesting small light fittings became his main attraction (much to the horror of his audience).
Robbins developed a taste–if you can call it that–for glass as a child while watching other magicians do similar tricks and admitted that the first time he ate a light bulb was rough-going but now he eats up to 21 a week as part of his act without a second thought. Apparently, he makes his audience feel especially uneasy by eating a bulb warm from being plugged in, joking that he prefers “a hot meal.” Lunatic!