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When I was a kid, my dad told me a story about a guy he used to work with who knew a guy whose brother once ate so many McDonald's hamburgers in a single sitting that he literally exploded. His stomach popped like a meat balloon, and all manner of guts and ooze and McInnards just plopped out. Boom, he's dead. I don't know if that story had a moral, but I remember thinking, "What a lightweight," and pondering how many burgers I could probably eat, which would no doubt be way more than this loser, before I actually died. And my death would be noble, not like this loser, because I would have eaten such a shit-ton of burgers, people would have been in awe of me. Not like that loser.

Why did I have such animosity toward a dead burger fan at age 7? I don't know. Why did I think if I did the exact same thing I'd somehow be cool? I don't know. But I did develop a fascination with the idea of being murdered by my dinner. Not like from E. coli or botulism -- those are predictable -- but just having my dinner turn against me as we struggle to dominate each other. And so here we are.


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This would no doubt have been less appealing to me as a child, but I can see an upside today. Not to be too morbid, but let's face facts -- we're all going to die sometime, so why not make the best of it? Which is to say, this is an awful way to die, but there are worse things out there -- imagine being eaten by rats, for instance.

Nerea Perez was working at a local winery and doing as people do, walking across some kind of catwalk over a giant vat of wine. On the one hand, this may make you wonder how you prevent shit from your shoes from falling into the wine, but on the other hand, you may also wonder what happens when people get high off the fumes and fall into the vat. I have no answer to the first one, but if the second one happens, as it did to Perez, you simply drown. It's a bit unceremonious.

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Albeit a lot more efficient than the traditional way one drowns in wine.

Officials believe the fumes from the wine overwhelmed Perez, who then tumbled into the vat. Fermentation fumes can be pretty hardcore, and the vats themselves can sometimes be large enough to hold 2 tons of product. Why have a catwalk over a vat of liquid that gives off intoxicating fumes? How should I know; why make guns that shoot snakes and chainsaws?

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Trick question. The snakechainzooka is its own reward.


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The Boston Molasses Disaster is both tragic and stupid, and it's a remarkable piece of history. How does molasses, known for being as fast as a legless monkey rolling uphill, manage to kill not just one person but 21 and injure 150 others? Impeccable comic-timing and ridiculous mass.

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I should probably clarify: It killed 21 without the aid of flour, butter, and decades of inactivity.

On Jan. 15, 1919, the temperature in Boston rose above 40 degrees. This was January, and the previous day had been remarkably cold, well below zero. That sharp shift in temperature acted on a massive tank of 2.3 million gallons of molasses being held in a shit-shack of a tank that was known to leak so badly they painted it brown to hide that fact at the Purity Distilling Company.

Boston Public Library
Which no doubt threw authorities completely off the trail when they went looking
for the source of Lake Diabetes.

Thanks to fermentation, carbon dioxide was already putting pressure on the tank internally. The sudden temperature shift only exacerbated the situation to the point that the rivets holding everything together literally exploded out of the structure; witnesses reported it sounding like gunfire. The tank toppled, and a shit-like wave of molasses crashed down at a whopping 35 miles per hour.

How does a person outrun 2.3 million gallons of molasses traveling at the speed of a galloping horse? They don't, which is why so many people died. The wave was so powerful it bent steel girders in nearby buildings when it hit, knocked a rail car off the tracks, and swept buildings off their foundations. For those who saw it coming, a massively thick, brown river, it must have been as though the Devil himself shat on the street and condemned mankind to the worst death ever.

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"Death by chocolate" is an expression that is probably playing off of "death by misadventure" and has since been given to desserts, a short film, an album, and probably some kind of really perverse sexual maneuver you're better off not knowing about. It can also just be used to describe a literal situation, such as the case of Vincent Smith, who went full body into a vat of chocolate at a New Jersey plant and never came back up again.

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Calm your shit, "I'd love to drown in chocolate!" comment guy; this is about to get grim.

Smith was over a tank loading chocolate into it when he slipped and fell in. Unlike the rivers of chocolate at Willy Wonka's factory, this vat was filled with boiling chocolate that was being mixed by massive, brutal mechanical arms. Even though his co-workers managed to shut the mixers down, Smith was in the boiling brew for over 10 minutes before rescue workers arrived.

Unsurprisingly, after 10 minutes, there was nothing anyone could do to save Smith. There was no official word on what caused his fall in the first place. This incident, however, and the earlier one with the wine, does make you think maybe having unsteady platforms over massive tanks of potentially deadly substances is kind of a shitty way to run your business. Unless you're secretly in the business of drowning employees in food, in which case good work.

When a good Jokering is your best-case scenario, it's time for a redesign.

Hot Dogs

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Every year America celebrates its independence by making people watch in disgust as strangers gorge themselves on wieners like starving dong addicts with no shame or gag reflex. The hot dog eating contest is a weird tradition, made all the more weird by just how many hot dogs some humans can actually eat in a single sitting. Eat more than three on your own and you'll call yourself all kinds of awful names for being such a gross monster. Competitive eaters will then sit down and eat 50 -- 50 wieners; can you even imagine that? That's so many chicken assholes, you don't even know.

Irwin, La Broad, & Pudlin.
Meanwhile, Babe Ruth needed only 12 to get sent to a hospital,
which is disappointing for athletes and fat guys.

Just this past 4th of July, Walter Eagle Tail entered himself in a hot dog eating contest in South Dakota and was ready to make the nation proud by divesting the county of its pork-scrotum surplus, when good times turned tragic and he began to choke.

Unfortunately for Eagle Tail, efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful, as the dog was lodged too deep in his throat. His demise, however, hasn't put a damper on eating contests everywhere else across the country, and last year nearly 3 million people tuned in to watch it on ESPN, which would make some of us try to draw the conclusion that this is a sport. Ha ha! Ahh.

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Do you like beer? Imagine standing in the middle of a narrow, cobblestone street in England. Quaint little houses on either side of you, a depressing gray sky above, some dribbled bangers and mash on your blouse, because it's 1814 and that's what people in England wear. A blouse and pantaloons. And you're just standing on Little Quidditchshire Lane like you always do, waiting for the haberdasher to come by on his donkey cart. Only the sound you hear approaching is not donkey hoofbeats on cobblestones, it's the sloshy galosh of 323,000 gallons of brew as it devastates the local brewery and rips buildings to pieces before it drunkenly tsunamis you and your fancy blouse into oblivion. That was happy hour on Oct. 17, 1814.

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I assume there were also cheap appetizers, but in 1800s England
that probably amounted to gruel and orphan meat.

How did 323,000 gallons of beer end up rolling down a street, taking nine lives and a number of structures with it? Probably the exact way you think it happened -- really crappy quality control.

A brewery tank that held about 135,000 gallons of beer burst open and played a game of dominoes with the other tanks in the building, knocking them over before the wave crashed out of the building. Because the brewery was located in the poor part of town, many residents were living in cramped basement apartments that quickly flooded, trapping them inside to meet their maker with a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit. The flood of beer destroyed a wake, took out a pub wall, and killed a mother and daughter at tea across the street.

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Terrified screams of "Drinks on the house!" may have failed to warn others
of what, exactly, was happening.

So, who's to blame for when beer attacks? The good Lord! The entire accident was ruled an act of God, so the brewery was not held responsible for any of the death or mayhem, a tradition many people still try to uphold today, blaming all their alcohol-induced stupidity on someone else.


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The first time I ever went to a restaurant that had a spicy food challenge, I saw that they had waivers that patrons had to sign before they took part, just in case anything terrible happened. This was, of course, bullshit and just to add a bit of flare to the whole thing. How do I know this? Because no one has ever died from eating spicy food in the history of humankind -- except one guy. And that guy didn't go to a restaurant.

Though facing chili-death at a Chili's would've been the kind of depressing event
monuments are erected for.

Scientifically speaking, it's entirely possible that spicy food could kill you, but it's in that way that eating stones and going swimming could kill you -- how likely are you to let it get that bad, anyway? The discomfort from eating chilies would make you stop well before it became lethal, at least in most cases. But not so for Andrew Lee, who made himself a home-brew hot sauce and promptly died as a result.

Hot sauce, and the capsaicin in it, can cause a severe allergic reaction at high levels, which can lead to anaphylactic shock. You can kill rats with high-dose capsaicin if you're a really vindictive exterminator, and the official cause will be shock; the body just can't handle high doses of the stuff, especially since it starts messing with how you interpret nerve signals.

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Though if you view bukkakeing your tongue with ghost peppers as a good idea, your brain
may already be receiving shitty signals.

While it's possible spicy food has contributed to other people's deaths, Lee wins the award for being the guy who definitely died from it; he'd had a recent physical, so it's known he was in otherwise good health. The problem was, as a tough guy who thought he could handle hot foods, as so many of those type do, he mixed up a brew of super hot sauce and decided to ignore the usual safeguards, like eating it with bread or really anything that would protect his stomach lining. At high enough levels, capsaicin will just plow through your stomach lining, and then it's in your blood stream, where even if you've never shown symptoms of an allergy, a severe reaction can occur and knock your ass flat.

So what the hell did Lee eat? The story didn't say, but rumor has it his dad recently sent him some seeds for the kinds of chilies like the Carolina reaper that are usually only grown in the yards of houses from Stephen King novels that rack up 1.5 million Scoville units on the heat scale, compared to your average habanero pepper that is only a couple hundred. These things are even hotter than ghost chilies, which were your granddad's hottest chilies until people started making insane new hybrids a few years ago that can, for all intents and purposes, actually burn your asshole off.

For more from Felix Clay, check out 4 Most Sexually Uncomfortable Characters From Your Childhood and 4 Sex Lies Everyone Needs to Stop Telling.

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