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People do weird things. And that includes what they eat. Whether it’s an accident, some strange craving, or kids being kids, humans have eaten a lot of strange, non-food objects. In some cases, the objects pass through the body without causing harm. In other cases though, people sustain injuries — or even die. If you are what you eat, then the following people are an odd assortment of objects. Here are some of the oddest objects ever eaten by humans:
- Swords: For thousands of years, sword swallowing has been a tradition of certain performers. Those who do it properly have no need of help. However, the hazards remain, even for professionals. You can endure sore throat and lower chest pain, as well as intestinal bleeding as part of sword swallowing — and that’s if you do it right. Imagine what happens if you do it wrong!
- Planes, trains and automobiles: French entertainer Michael Lotito (died in 2007) was well-known for his penchant for eating…just about anything. His willingness to digest the un-digestible led to his nickname “Monsieur Mangetout (“Mister Eat Everything”). Lotito trusted his thick intestinal walls and highly powerful stomach acids to protect him from harm. He famously spent two years eating a Cessna 150 airplane.
- Cobblestones: Why swear or throw things when you are angry with your boyfriend? Instead, eat 20 cobblestones. That’s what a woman in China did on an impulse while arguing with her boyfriend. However, instead of passing through her system as she assumed would happen, the stones stayed put, knocking about in her stomach and forcing her to seek surgery.
- Wire mesh: When he discovered that the walls of his prison were made of wire mesh, one man tried to eat his way out. After carefully twisting off pieces of the mesh, he would hide the evidence by eating it. When his actions were discovered, his jailers discovered that he could probably safely pass the mesh.
- Fork: When a cockroach jumped into an Israeli woman’s mouth, she decided that it would be a good idea to use a fork to remove the pest. Unfortunately, she ended up swallowing both the fork and the cockroach. Surgery was needed to remove the fork, which lodged sideways in her stomach.
- Spoon: If you get the urge to eat something metal, just head down to the kitchen and find a metal eating utensil. That’s what one woman did, swallowing a spoon to satisfying her craving. Not only did she eat a spoon, but she also enjoyed a 9 volt battery and coins. While at the hospital, awaiting surgery, the woman gnoshed on paper clips. Other women have swallowed spoons by accident, including a woman in Sydney who accidentally ingested a spoon during a fit of laughter.
- Bed spring: If you were in jail, what would you do to taste a little bit of freedom for a few hours? Would you eat something you shouldn’t? A prisoner at Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina decided that eating a bed spring was worth it in order to get out of prison for a trip to the hospital.
- Safety pin: Children swallow all sorts of things. But one of the most dangerous things to swallow is a safety pin — especially if it is open. Children swallow them open, and they can rip and tear down the esophagus and into the stomach. However, many safety pins pass through the system with relatively little damage, though some need to be removed surgically.
- Hair: You’ve probably heard of pica, a disorder in which people compulsively eat things that aren’t supposed to be eaten. One of the most common things eaten is hair. It is easy to get to, and seems limitless. However, one of the largest amounts of hair found in a person’s system was in an 18-year-old girl’s stomach in New England. She had amassed a 10-pound hairball that needed to be surgically removed.
- Grill: Not a barbeque grill, but a mouth grill. Grills are mouth jewelry worn by a number of people. One mom thought it would be fun to purchase a grill for her seven-year-old son at a flea market. Unfortunately, the grill came loose in his mouth. After choking on it, the boy finally swallowed it and doctors recommended he pass it naturally.
- Toothbrush: While brushing her teeth, a woman accidentally swallowed her toothbrush. Brushing the back area of her tongue, a move recommended by oral hygienists, she triggered a gag reflex and ended up swallowing her toothbrush. It was removed from the esophagus using alligator forceps — no surgery required. Other women have swallowed toothbrushes as well.
- 350 coins: Here’s a new method for protecting your money: swallowing it. A French man ingested $650 worth of metal coins. He was a known criminal who often stole coins and ate them. He also ate other metal objects, once accumulating 12 pounds in his stomach. He died due to complications after surgery.
- Engagement ring: Why buy an engagement ring for your girlfriend when you can steal one and eat it? That’s what one man tried, attempting to convince the store attendant that he had given back. When the store got it back, though, it was with mixed feelings. Obviously the store won’t get full retail price for it.
- Quartz: It may not be as precious as a diamond engagement ring, but quartz is still a “Treasure of the Earth”. One girl swallowed a piece of smoky quartz that came with a publication about rocks and minerals. She wanted a safe place to put it, so swallowed it. It eventually passed through her system.
- House key: In order to keep partying, a drunk college student in England swallowed the key to his dorm room. That way, he reasoned, his friends couldn’t force him to leave.
- Antenna: One man swallowed a radio antenna in six sections. The man had a personality disorder, and swallowed a number of other objects, from pens to pencils to stationary.
- Magnets: Girls and boys alike seem to find the pieces of the Magnetix toy appealing. Indeed, there have been reports of both genders eating the toys. The biggest danger associated with eating the magnets is the fact that they are attracted to each other in the stomach, and can cause tearing similar to gun and knife wounds.
- Battery: One of the most dangerous things for humans to ingest in mercury. So when a three-year-old girl swallowed a mercury battery, the situation was serious. Her stomach acid corroded the battery to a point that the mercury entered her system and caused renal failure. As a result of this tragedy, batteries are now made to be more resistant to acid.
- Thermometer: In another case of mercury ingestion, a woman swallowed a thermometer. It took her six weeks to seek medical attention after vomiting and experiencing abdominal pain.
- Screwdriver bit: A young child swallowed a screwdriver bit. However, it turned out to be much ado about nothing as she passed it safely.
- Vest buckle: This is an interesting case of something that happened more than 100 years ago. A young boy swallowed a vest buckle, and the Mayo brothers (of Mayo Clinic fame) took an x-ray. It was their first x-ray (taken in 1897), and after the buckle was successfully removed, it proved that this technology was useful.
- Nails: A man in Ethiopia had 15 minutes of fame after doctors removed 750 grams of metal from his stomach, including a number of nails measuring 15 centimeters in length. He had also ingested hair pins, keys, watch batteries and coins.
- Bullet: A woman claimed that the bullet discovered in her stomach was inside a hot dog she had been eating. She claims that she bit into the second bullet in the dog, but didn’t swallow it.
- Glass: In India, there is a man who regularly eats glass with his dinner. He first discovered a taste for glass when he attempted suicide by downing glass with alcohol. He survived, and now glass — from light bulbs to soda bottles — is a part of his three squares a day.
This post was updated on October 26, 2017.