The Kentucky Meat Shower: Not A Lewd Act, But Still Gross

Best-case scenario, those guys definitely ate vulture vomit; worse-case, it was cannibalistic vulture vomit.
The Kentucky Meat Shower: Not A Lewd Act, But Still Gross

The Kentucky Meat Shower might sound like something you'd find on Urban Dictionary, but it's so much weirder than whatever that 12-year-old who's vaguely heard of sex might come up with. Basically, in 1876, one Mrs. Crouch in Olympia Springs, Kentucky, was just minding her own business, making soap in her yard, when it started raining meat. A lot of it. Enough chunks ranging from snowflake-size to three or four inches wide covered an entire 100-by-50-yard rectangle of land on the family's farm. Mrs. Crouch reported that it had been a cloudless and dry evening, and although it's not clear why (did someone really ask her about that, thinking normal rain clouds just decided to shake things up?), it would turn out to be a good thing she did.

We're going to attribute what happened next to people's general credulousness in this more innocent time and not any stereotypes associated with the regional community because people ate it. They ate the meat rain. Specifically, the Crouches apparently called two of their friends over, who declared that the meat, which looked like fresh beef, tasted more like venison or mutton.


The family cat helped itself as well.

It was only then that anyone apparently thought to call in any experts on this, and samples of the meat were sent off for analysis with increasingly alarming results. First, the "meat" was identified as a type of harmless cyanobacteria that swells up and turns into a fleshy, gooey mass when it gets wet, and everyone (most of all those family friends) breathed a huge sigh of relief until they remembered that Mrs. Crouch had said it was a dry night and it only appeared on her farm. A local hunter insisted it was bear meat, but everyone just kind of looked at him funny, and after the most credible guy yet, the president of the Newark Scientific Association, took a look at it, we all learned why we don't just pick up chunks of meat off the ground and eat them: He identified it as either horse or human infant. Apparently, the lung tissue of both is indistinguishable.

Other scientists who subsequently analyzed the samples agreed that it was definitely some kind of animal lung tissue, muscle, and cartilage, which probably came from the stomachs of an unseen flock of startled vultures, who have a habit of nervous vomiting. The number of vultures that would have had to be involved in this puke party that nobody saw to cover such a huge swath of land throws a bit of a wrench in the theory, but that's probably the best explanation we're ever going to get. Best-case scenario, those guys definitely ate vulture vomit; worse-case, it was cannibalistic vulture vomit.

The samples are so old today that they're useless, but that hasn't stopped people from trying to solve the mystery. In 2020, a professor at a nearby university analyzed the flavor compounds of the samples, infused those compounds into jelly beans, and handed them out to people at an outdoor festival, hoping their impressions of its taste could yield some previously unsuspected lead. It's not clear if he told those people they were maybe about to find out what baby tastes like, but it also gave him no clearer idea than before, so at least it was for nothing.

Top image: Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay, Aline de Nadai/Unsplash

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