4 Powdered Mummies
For hundreds of years, mummia was a wonder medicine used to fix basically everything. According to apothecaries, mummia could staunch internal bleeding, ease menstrual pains, and even speed up the healing of wounds. Oh, and it was also made of desiccated human corpses. Yes, we're talking about goddamn powdered mummies, and yes, that shit was applied internally.
Every bathroom had a jar! No bathtubs or toilets, but everyone had their mummy powder.
From the 11th century until, well, now (hopefully), mummia was a readily available medicine in Europe. Tomb raiding thrived, as enterprising grave robbers sold powdered corpses on the street like nightmare cocaine.
When actual Egyptian mummies weren't available, you could just manufacture your own. The traditional recipe, as explained by the 15th century mystic/doctor Paracelsus, went as follows: Take the body of a young man who had died suddenly due to "unexpected violence," paint the inside of his chest cavity with asphaltum (a black resin used in the mummification process), wrap the body in bandages, dry it out like a human Raisinet, and then grind it up.
Of course, there's only one way to be sure that he dies suddenly, unexpectedly, and violently.
All this dead-guy-dust-eating insanity was based on the belief that mummia contained vital life forces and could overcome the weak, sick flesh of the living, purging all illness from their systems. From about the 16th century onward, mummia started being dismissed as alchemical claptrap. However, because horrific madness is nothing if not resilient, mummia still persisted for quite some time. In fact, as late as the 19th century, a well-known German pharmaceutical company had mummia available in its catalog. The catchy product description was: "Genuine Egyptian mummy, as long as the supply lasts, 17 marks 50 per kilogram."
At those prices, you'd be crazy not to buy!
3 Blackbeard's Skull Became a Punch Bowl
Edward Teach, better known as the most fearsome pirate of all time, Blackbeard, spent years terrorizing the East Coast and the Caribbean. A bear of a man with lit fuses in his beard and a less than neighborly disposition, he eventually proved too big of a bastard to live: The authorities got fed up with his antics and dealt him a Cracked-worthy demise. To make absolutely sure that the sturdy pirate had finally bit the sawdust, they cut his head off.
And hung it from the bowsprit, yar.
Initially, Blackbeard's head was stuck on a pole by the mouth of a river in Williamsburg, Virginia, as a brutal warning to anybody else harboring aspirations of piracy. Eventually, when the flesh had rotted away, somebody decided to do the logical thing: drink liquids out of it.
The inscription, not visible: "Deth to Spotswoode." Spelling wasn't a pirate priority. Yar.
The Raleigh Tavern appropriated Blackbeard's skull, plated it with silver, and converted it into the bottom of a huge novelty punch bowl. The above picture isn't the real deal, but it is thought to be a fairly close approximation. The bowl was bizarrely known as "The Infant." For over a century, the Infant remained there, occasionally being lent out to dinner parties for aspiring serial killers.
By the 1920s, the skull had disappeared, likely stolen by a drunken party guest. It resurfaced sometime in the 1990s and is now on display at the Peabody Essex Museum. BUT BE FOREWARNED: We are fairly sure it's a BYOB situation.