21 Strange Food Deaths Through History

A list of food and drink related deaths

You know the expression, "death by chocolate." Well, actual food fatalities go much further. And while accidental food poisoning is no joke, you figure that every way you could possibly go, people have gone. Indeed, there have been bizarre food and drink related deaths throughout history — some involving pretty famous people. Here's a list of 21 strange food deaths.

Read More: 13 Tragic and Unfortunate Food Deaths

Chrysippus

Chrysippus: The Greek philosopher, Diogenes, supposedly gave two food-related accounts of the death of Chrysippus (considered to be the co-founder of Stoicism). The first story goes that in 206 BC at the age of 73, he died after drinking over-proof wine at a sacrificial ceremony students invited him to. The other account? Amused by observing his donkey eat figs, Chrysippus told a servant to give it wine, a sight that made him die laughing.

 

Lucius Fabius Cilo: Among its List of Unusual Deaths count the end of this Roman senator's life in the 2nd century when he supposedly "...choked...by a single hair in a draught of milk."

 

Henry I of England: This king died from food poisoning in Normandy in 1135. He supposedly over-indulged on lampreys, a favorite dish that his doctors had forbidden him from eating.

 

Martin of Aragon: Who was king of Aragon, Valencia, Sardinia, and Corsica and Count of Barcelona and King of Sicily supposedly died in 1410 as a result of indigestion and laughing uncontrollably.

 

George Plantagenet: The Duke of Clarence played a role in the Wars of the Roses, plotting against his brother Edward IV. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London, convicted, and was supposedly executed by drowning in a cask of Malmsey wine in 1478.

 

Vlad VI Înecatul: Vlad ruled Wallachia between 1530 and 1532 when supposedly after drinking too much during a long banquet, he mounted his horse, rode toward the Dâmboviţa River, and drowned. He thus became known as Vlad the Drowned.

 

Chrysippus

Tycho Brahe: This Danish noble who known for astronomical and planetary observations supposedly died in 1601 of a bladder or kidney ailment that he contracted while attending a banquet in Prague. According to a firsthand account, "Tycho had refused to leave the banquet to relieve himself because it would have been a breach of etiquette."

 

Sir Francis Bacon: The former British Lord Chancellor died in 1626 of pneumonia supposedly contracted while stuffing a chicken with snow to test a theory about its preservative properties. You hate to be insensitive, but Pip Wilson's poem is pretty funny: "Against cold meats was he insured? For frozen chickens he procured — brought on the illness he endured, and never was this Bacon cured."

 

Francois Vatel: In 1671, after a shortage of roasted meat, and a fog that prevented a fireworks display to honor King Louis XIV of France, this maître d'hôtel supposedly committed suicide upon learning that he did not have enough fish to feed his guests.

 

Henry Purcell: One of Britain's great composers supposedly died of pneumonia in 1695, but there are two running stories. Either he got sick after returning late from the theater and carousing with his friends, or he died of chocolate poisoning, "a result of consuming the impure drink at one of London’s new chocolate houses."

 

King Adolf Frederick of Sweden: You've heard the expression "too much of a good thing." Well, King Adolf Frederick is supposedly "remembered by Swedish school children as the king who ate himself to death. He died on Feb. 12, 1771, after having consumed a meal consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, kippers and champagne, which was topped off with 14 servings of his favorite dessert, semla, served in a bowl of hot milk.’’

 

Edgar

Edgar Allan Poe: There are several theories as to this writer's death in 1849 — rabies and a brain tumor among them. Another hypothesis is that he died from a cerebral edema after a drinking binge.

 

 

Elizabeth Stride: It was reported in The Evening News that Elizabeth Stride, one of Jack the Ripper's five known victims, was found dead in 1888 with grapes in hand. She was supposedly seen earlier with a man who bought the grapes from a vendor. Grapes were expensive and one theory is that they were used to lure Stride.

 

Tommy Dorsey:  This renowned trombonist led bands that were ranked among the top two or three of the Swing era. Supposedly, he choked to death in his sleep in 1956 while under sedation from sleeping pills following a heavy meal.

 

Calamity Jane: This icon of the Wild West was famous for drinking. Supposedly, she died after a last binge; "She rode an ore train to Terry, a little mining village near Deadwood, where she became violently sick to her stomach. A bartender secured a room for her in the Calloway Hotel and a doctor was summoned. Her death.... was ascribed to inflammation of the bowels and pneumonia." Another food-related note, after Jack McCall killed Wild Bill Hickok it was supposedly Jane who "had the honor of commanding him [McCall] to surrender, when cornered in a butcher shop, with a meat cleaver as her weapon."

 

Basil Brown: This health advocate died in 1974 after supposedly drinking 10 gallons of carrot juice during a period of 10 days — 10,000 times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A.

 

Fugu

Bandō Mitsugorō VIII: In 1975, revered Kabuki actor Bando Mitsugoro VIII supposedly "ordered four fugu kimo in a restaurant in Kyoto, claiming he could resist the poison. He was wrong."

 

 

William Holden: This Oscar-winning actor was a big box office draw during the 1950s. He was found dead in his apartment in 1981 after supposedly hitting his head while drinking heavily.

 

Marty Feldman: The actor perhaps most immediately recognizable for playing the part of Igor in Young Frankenstein was found dead in his motel room in Mexico in 1982. Filmmaker Michael Mileham is said to have theorized that Feldman may have died of shellfish poisoning after using a knife they'd used on some lobsters.

 

Bernard Loiseau: Chef Loiseau tragically took his own life in 2003 not long after supposedly confiding to a friend that he would do just that if he lost a Michelin star.

 

Jennifer Lea Strange: In 2007 this game show contestant died of water intoxication after participating in a water-drinking contest run by the Sacramento radio station KDND-FM.

RATE IT
62 ratings

Be a Part of the Conversation

Join the Daily Meal's Community and Share your Thoughts

The Daily Meal Editors and Community Say...