6 Accidental Cannibals Who May Have Mistakenly Eaten Human Meat
As far as meat selection goes, “human” is one of the absolute no-nos. If you think you get some side-eye for ordering veal in public, just try asking for a fried human hand. Cannibalism has been one of human society’s big ethical rubicons from day one, and for good reason: It’s hard to build a successful, ongoing civilization if everyone’s allowed to snack on each other.
It’s a meal choice made only by the most miswired among us, outside of the occasional castaway. Unfortunately, sometimes those freaks see fit to include others in their dietary plan. If you’re of a squeamish nature, first of all, horrible choice of article to click on. That aside, consider this your secondary warning that these not-so-fun facts might not be for you.
Here are six people who may have accidentally eaten human meat…
Fritz Haarmann’s Customers
Its prevalence these days, thanks in part to factory farming and our ability to grow sickening globes of live chicken, makes us under-appreciate how expensive meat used to be. In the early 1900s, women in Hanover, Germany, weren’t always able to put protein on the table. So when Fritz Haarmann popped up with shockingly affordable meat, plenty of people opened up their coin purse. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t realize that they were purchasing bits of dissected runaways. Thank god for the USDA.
Nathaniel Bar-Jonah’s BBQ Guests
If you believe in the idea of “bad seeds,” David Paul Brown was a putrid speck capable of rotting a full cornfield. From an early age, he repeatedly attempted to murder and sexually assault other children, which continued into adulthood, ultimately landing him in prison for attempted murder. In what has to be one of the worst ever things let slip through the cracks, when he was released (which also, why), no one kept track of him, and he moved to Great Falls, Montana, and changed his name to Nathaniel Bar-Jonah.
As tragic as it was predictable, he was eventually arrested for, well, the atrocities he’d made particularly clear he enjoyed. When his diaries were filled with ideas like “Little Boy Stew,” neighbors remembered eating strange meat at BBQs he hosted that he claimed was venison he’d hunted. Which would have been believable, if anyone had ever seen him go hunting.
Attendees of Leonarda Cianciulli’s Tea Parties
One of the few smashers of a glass ceiling that absolutely did not need to be broken was serial killer Leonarda Cianciulli. Leonarda’s mental state was never destined for stability, especially not after her 17 pregnancies ended with three miscarriages and 10 childhood deaths. The sort of thing that would benefit from psychiatric treatment instead of, uh, nothing. Somehow, her embattled psyche settled on human sacrifice as a way to keep her eldest son, who was at war, alive. The bodies of her victims also notably made their way into tea cakes that she served to guests and that she, entirely unnecessarily, described as “crunchy.”
Joe Roy Metheny’s Burger Buyers
One thing that certainly didn’t make me feel good researching this piece was to find out how apparently easily human meat can pass for generic animal matter. You’d like to think you’d be able to spot it in a butcher case, but it turns out we’re all made of the same wet stuff. Enough so that people who stopped by serial killer Joe Roy Metheny’s Baltimore barbecue shack weren’t ever able to peg that the hamburgers they were eating weren’t made of ham, pork and beef, but instead, maybe the most famous two-legged creature to ever walk the earth.
Moscow Kebab Enjoyers
Sidewalk kebab sellers already suffer from a not quite sterling reputation as far as meat quality goes. You don’t earn the nickname “street meat” as a term of endearment and respect, outside of a level of fearful acknowledgement for the damage it could do to an unsuspecting bathroom. Still, I’d much rather have some heat-lamped lamb meat than what some Moscow meat slingers unknowingly sold: bits of a human corpse sold to them by three vagrants. Lies aside, “We didn’t know it was human! We thought we were just buying normal meat from three homeless guys!” isn’t much of a defense in their favor.
South Korean Stamina Pill Poppers
Is taking a pill “eating something”? Seems like the very kind of inane bar argument question that could kick off a “hot dog equals sandwich” sort of debate. One thing that won’t spark the same disagreement is what I would assume is the global agreement that pills shouldn’t have bits of dried fetus in them. But horrifyingly, if you were in South Korea and bought a bit of a certain supply of stamina pills that absolutely required a warning label, that’s what you were eating. Look, if you want to harvest the power of the young, do it the way society likes — as a billionaire, through blood transfusions.
Eli Yudin is a stand-up comedian living in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @eliyudin and listen to his podcast, What A Time to Be Alive, about the five weirdest news stories of the week on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.