129 tsp of pepper OR 2 cherry pits OR 85 full-sized chocolate bars
October 8, 2019 1:52 PM   Subscribe

A lot of things can kill you - but here are some surprising ones: Part One | Part Two (h/t Miss Cellania)
posted by Johnny Wallflower (47 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
8,000 meters is where the death zone begins, not 8,000 feet.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 2:15 PM on October 8 [11 favorites]


Yeah, I would take all those numbers with 48 teaspoons of salt.
posted by rikschell at 2:15 PM on October 8 [30 favorites]


8,000 meters is where the death zone begins, not 8,000 feet.

Yes, that was the point at which I closed this silly video.
posted by JeffL at 2:18 PM on October 8


I've spent the last few years building up an immunity to theobromine.
posted by aubilenon at 2:19 PM on October 8 [29 favorites]


*Looks up from my dinner of 84 bars of chocolate covered with 128 teaspoons of pepper.*
"Hmmm."
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:26 PM on October 8 [19 favorites]


But, I just put my 550-cherry-pits pie in the oven.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:35 PM on October 8 [8 favorites]


Water LD50 is 6 liters. Chocolate bar LD50 is 4.25 liters. So chocolate is 70% as safe to consume as water.
posted by joeyh at 2:41 PM on October 8 [15 favorites]


But, I just put my 550-cherry-pits pie in the oven.

Don't worry, you're safe. "Hydrogen cyanide is not a heat-stable substance and does not survive cooking, which is why you may see some recipes that call for roasting stone fruit pits." Which is great, because otherwise you couldn't make a traditional cherry clafoutis and get all that lovely almond-like flavour from the pits.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:43 PM on October 8 [11 favorites]


The nutmeg one is scary to me; I routinely grate around half a nutmeg onto oatmeal, which seems about half enough to kill me?
posted by joeyh at 2:47 PM on October 8


I had a serious aversion to nutmeg due to a bad experience with spoiled egg nog. One day I decided to take the bull by the horn and ate an entire nutmeg (chewed it; didn't just swallow). I was dissapointed there were no psychotropic effects but glad there were no adverse effects ether. It did cure my aversion to nutmeg. (I don't think anything will cure my aversion to star anise.)
posted by sjswitzer at 2:50 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Two ground cherry pits you say?

Wait? Did I say that out loud?
posted by Splunge at 2:56 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


If just 2 cherry pits provide a lethal dose of cyanide, I am shocked that murder via cherry pits isn't a common, every day occurrence.
posted by she's not there at 2:56 PM on October 8 [14 favorites]


I feel like there are significantly more deaths due to choking on cherry pits than due to their toxicity. I mean, there's even a PSA about it.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 3:06 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


Or one turnip, depending on its speed.

RIP Leslie Merry.
posted by scruss at 3:08 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


"every inch above 5 feet takes 1.3 years off your life."

As I am 7 feet tall, the average me should have died 2 years ago-- and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (72, 7'2") is essentially a centenarian. Hurray for junk science and the misunderstanding of statistics.
posted by erikred at 3:12 PM on October 8 [18 favorites]


🎵Now, tomatoes are soft and they don't bruise the skin
But this one killed Jim, it was wrapped in a tin.🎶

(Tomato Can Jim was an outlier adn should not have been counted.)
posted by zamboni at 3:17 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]


The "water LD50 is 6 litres" is a great number to point anti-fluoridation people at - compare the amount of fluoride in 6 litres of tap water with fluoride's LD50

(usually I do the opposite - show them how much water you'd have to drink to reach fluoride's LD50)
posted by mbo at 3:19 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


(and for the record I did once damage my kidneys drinking way too much water, I was dehydrated, but my real problem turned out to be that I had Legionaire's ....)
posted by mbo at 3:26 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


Even if you shell and grind the seeds, it would take about 30 cherry pits to poison you. Since they usually get swallowed whole, you can eat them by the hundred and still not get poisoned.

(Yes, there's some dude in the UK who claimed he got cyanide poisoning from eating the seeds from three cherry pits. The only source for this story is him, and he's almost certainly either making it up or ate a great deal more than three.)
posted by tavella at 3:27 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


erikred: ""every inch above 5 feet takes 1.3 years off your life."

You have to adjust this for the height of the parapet.

posted by chavenet at 3:42 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]


(I don't think anything will cure my aversion to star anise.)

Wait are you averse to star anise but not other anethole-bearing foods like non-star anise, licorice, and fennel?
posted by aubilenon at 3:48 PM on October 8


They also have a video about virgin births where they posit Jesus was a female (canonically Jesus was a trans man), so I'm not sure I trust them to get the details perfectly right. Like most YouTube "scientists," they're settling for close enough to be interesting.
posted by explosion at 3:56 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Wait are you averse to star anise but not other anethole-bearing foods like non-star anise, licorice, and fennel?

I'm totally cool with fennel and licorice. In fact I love scandinavian salty licorice (salmiac) and the Italian licorice nuggets that have health warnings on them. But star anise? Nooooo!
posted by sjswitzer at 4:00 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


...they're settling for close enough to be interesting monetize.

FTFY
posted by sneebler at 4:04 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


lovely almond-like flavour from the pits.

So, a few days ago I had a showerthought that I have NEVER had a almond that tasted like "almond" flavor. Mostly I experience them as flavorless, with a little nuttiness.

Is there some magic kind that actually tastes like that, and the ones you get in the store are different?
posted by ArgentCorvid at 4:08 PM on October 8 [15 favorites]


A few weeks ago we were talking about subtle and not so subtle hypothetical ways to get rid of pesky coworkers using stuff around the office.

After exhausting the improvised weapons topic we looked at the fruit bowl and naturally we started doing the cyanide calculations.

Then I looked out the window and in a minute or so identified the following in the landscaped areas and vacant lots around the building.

Datura ferox
Brugmansia Aurea
Ricinus communis
Thevetia peruviana
Cycas revoluta
Nerium oleander
Abrus precatorius

Why settle for a ton of chocolate when a walk around the block offers liver failure, kidney failure, neurotoxicity, death at the cellular level, heart failure.
posted by Dr. Curare at 4:10 PM on October 8 [21 favorites]


I thought I would refrain from using the term “eponysterical” as much as possible, but Dr. Curare pretty much nailed it. Perhaps I should change my name to Dr. Papaver.
posted by TedW at 4:25 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]


To be fair, a single cherry pit can kill you, if it’s moving fast enough and hits a vital spot.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:55 PM on October 8 [13 favorites]


Come at me with that banana!
posted by briank at 5:05 PM on October 8 [11 favorites]


I'm totally cool with fennel and licorice. In fact I love scandinavian salty licorice (salmiac) and the Italian licorice nuggets that have health warnings on them. But star anise? Nooooo!

I love salmiakki, but I am prone to hypertension. On that front, this old AskMe is pretty interesting.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:14 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


So, a few days ago I had a showerthought that I have NEVER had a almond that tasted like "almond" flavor. Mostly I experience them as flavorless, with a little nuttiness.

Apparently the almonds used for almond extract are a different variety and somewhat toxic? I will say that the almonds I get at the farmers market in California do taste much better than some in the store, but still not like almond extract...
posted by pinochiette at 5:32 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


ArgentCorvid, I think roasted unsalted Marcona almonds have a bit more of that almond-extract flavor.
posted by jocelmeow at 5:45 PM on October 8


My grandma’s dog ate at least a pound of chocolate at a time on three different occasions. Don’t ask.

He didn’t die from eating chocolate.
posted by SoberHighland at 6:25 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


The nutmeg one of total nonsense. As a lad a friend of mine had about four tablespoons after reading a Burroughs book that said it would get you high.

He certainly threw up a lot much to my amusement but was otherwise unharmed.
posted by smoke at 6:46 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


As a lad a friend of mine had about four tablespoons after reading a Burroughs book that said it would get you high.

Sure it wasn't The Anarchist Cookbook?

[William] Powell suggests ground up nutmeg for a psychedelic experience. Nutmeg has a poor dose/toxicity ratio! However, the oil extract of Nutmeg, containing myristicin, can be used in the synthesis of MMDA – a better and mellower high than MDA. See “Journal of Psychedelic Drugs” (Vol. 8, #4, October-December 1976).
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:03 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


Ah, right. It did come up in Naked Lunch:

“Results are vaguely similar to marijuana with side effects of headache and nausea. Death would probably supervene before addiction if such addiction is possible. I have only taken nutmeg once,” said William S. Burroughs in Naked Lunch. Listen to William S. Burroughs. Nutmeg is probably the only narcotic for which he declined a second try.

He certainly threw up a lot much to my amusement but was otherwise unharmed.

And, well, it certainly did come up for your friend.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:05 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Wait are you averse to star anise but not other anethole-bearing foods like non-star anise, licorice, and fennel?

I'm averse to all of those...but that's because I hate the flavor.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:15 PM on October 8


Life may just be a bowl of cherries, but death is definitely the pits.
posted by zaixfeep at 9:09 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


*gasp* Are you the ghost of Erma Bombeck??
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:40 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]


Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious theobromine collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:47 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


He certainly threw up a lot

I mean, that's how your body ideally reacts when you try to LD orally?

So that may very well be a fatal dose if you keep it down . . .
posted by aspersioncast at 5:03 AM on October 9


> Is there some magic kind that actually tastes like that, and the ones you get in the store are different?

Try apricot kernels! You might be able to find them in a Chinese supermarket called North almonds, they're delicious in cookies.
posted by lucidium at 8:01 AM on October 9


I mean if theobromine is that problematic there are a lot of yerba mate drinkers in for a big surprise.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 8:47 AM on October 9


Try apricot kernels! You might be able to find them in a Chinese supermarket called North almonds, they're delicious in cookies.

Yeah, about those apricot kernals . . . . "adults are advised to consume no more than three apricot kernels per day"
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:33 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


I mean if theobromine is that problematic there are a lot of yerba mate drinkers in for a big surprise.

It's not very toxic - it's not really feasible to eat enough chocolate to kill yourself from theobromine. That's why you need to eat 85 chocolate bars to get dead! Yerba mate has about 2/3 the amount of theobromine as cacao. It has more caffeine than theobromine, and caffeine appears to be more toxic than theobromine, so assuming you managed to get past the mechanical limitations of how much tea you can drink quickly, I'd expect that caffeine would dominate the poisoning equation. Though it's similar enough to theobromine that probably they'd work together. #teamwork
posted by aubilenon at 10:13 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


The nutmeg one of total nonsense. As a lad a friend of mine had about four tablespoons after reading a Burroughs book that said it would get you high.

You'd probably have to take more like 6-8 tablespoons, but there actually is a recorded instance of a fatal nutmeg overdose, at least in combination with Rohypnol.
posted by Copronymus at 12:08 PM on October 9


*gasp* Are you the ghost of Erma Bombeck??
posted by Greg_Ace


As George Harrison might have exclaimed in consternation under similar circumstances, 'My sweet lord!'
posted by zaixfeep at 2:29 PM on October 9


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