After opening the set in front of his doctor friends with a banger like Eating Whole Cats Alive, Tarrare just had to keep the jams coming. In the time he was studied, he's reported to have eaten everything from puppies to a dinner meant for 15 German laborers. He swallowed a live eel without chewing. The doctors noted that his stomach, when empty, was comprised of so much loose skin that he could practically lasso it around himself. They also wrote that "He often stank to such a degree that he could not be endured within the distance of twenty paces."
Again, these tales aren't outlandish bullshit from the playbill of his freak show, but from the notes of trained scientists.
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From Stomach With Love
But there was a war happening, and the surgeons needed to come up with a reason to keep their study going. The answer to that was simple: Use Tarrare's body as a vessel for espionage. After a successful test, a plan was hatched to feed Tarrare a box containing a note with privileged information, sneak him behind enemy lines as a Prussian peasant, and get the note to an imprisoned French officer. Despite all of this being such a hilariously bad idea, Tarrare accepted. He threw back the tummy note and rolled behind enemy lines.
He was captured almost immediately.
Yes, somehow, the Prussian troops took notice of a man with a nightmare face walking around not speaking the same language as everybody else. Scared and with spy things inside him, Tarrare spilled the beans. His captors chained him up in a bathroom and anxiously awaited the code brown. And when he finally passed along the message and some poor soul had to retrieve it, they were infuriated to find that the note said basically nothing of any value. It was simply a test to see if Tarrare's asshole could be a viable weapon of war.
Tarrare's captors were angry because they waited for this creepy guy to shit out a message that was of no value, and Tarrare felt betrayed to have wasted his talents on such an insignificant letter. The Prussians then led Tarrare to his execution, and let him get right up to the point of being convinced that they were going to kill him before having the kind of laugh that only fake executions and true human terror can generate. He was released and allowed to return to France.
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Tarrare's Final Course
Tarrare returned to his homeland absolutely over it. He didn't want this appetite anymore, so he went back to a hospital and begged the doctors to find a cure for the black hole swirling in his guts. They tried everything that doctors in the late 18th century could, from filling him with tobacco to filling him with opium. But no matter what they tried, nothing was sticking. Tarrare was now just hungry and stoned.
Though, by staying in a hospital, Tarrare found himself back in his sweet spot where he could roam around in the middle of the night and nibble on things he really shouldn't be nibbling on. Convinced that they would not find a cure, Tarrare "relapsed" and started drinking the blood of other patients, and enjoyed a few bites of morgue corpse too. For some reason, other people in the hospital wanted to kick him out. Prudes.
Yet the doctor who was studying Tarrare didn't have the heart to do it. There was still so much exploitin' to do. And then a 14-month-old baby went missing, and I don't want to point fingers, but it might've been the corpse-chewing guy.
Tarrare would fall off the map for a few years, until resurfacing and dying at a hospital in 1798 due to tuberculosis. They did an autopsy, maybe to see if there was a family of hungry gremlins living in there, but all they found was a hugely oversized stomach and a whole lot of infections. That's actually as far as the doctor made it, because he found "the stench of the body insupportable," and despite his role as a professional cutter-opener of smelly dead people, this one was a step too far.
Tarrare died as he lived: an absolute marvel that defied all explanation. Though there have been many other famous gluttons in the past, there has seemingly never been one as insatiable and as capable of really fucking up some "food" in the way that this guy was. So the next time you're looking at the last chicken wing in a plate of 40, think about Tarrare and throw that shit down the hatch.
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