Pica is defined as “the persistent eating of substances such as dirt or paint that have no nutritional value,” and it’s just one of the conditions that cause some people to eat the most bizarre and unbelievable things. Some do it for comfort or as a coping mechanism, while others picked up the strange habit following a traumatic or stressful event in their lives. Whichever the case, it makes for some pretty odd reading for the rest of us.
10 Heavy Metal
Q: What do 18 bicycles, 15 shopping carts, seven television sets, six chandeliers, two beds, and a coffin all have in common?
Lotito is another in the list of people with pica, and doctors claim he has an especially strong stomach lining and intestinal tract. Breaking objects into small, consumable pieces, he eats them with massive amounts of water to help his system to digest the metal. Despite his Superman-like stomach, Lotito has problems digesting some normal foods like bananas and hard-boiled eggs. “Monsieur Mangetout,” (“Mr. Eats All” in French) has even wolfed down a small section of the Eiffel Tower.
9 Street Meat
Cooking Instructions: Remove cat from side of road. Place smelly meat under running water for up to four days, or until odor dissipates. Cook well and serve.
That’s the formula and philosophy of Arthur Boyt of England, who says he’s been eating roadkill meals for over 35 years. He’s a taxidermist who prefers to eat the bodies of badgers, cats, and barn owls rather than throw them out after a stuffing job. It has never made him ill. Arthur keeps a freezer in his garage stocked with the likes of dead polecats, swan, buzzards, and even reptiles. And according to the 72-year-old, the best roadkill he ever ate was . . . (drum roll) . . . a Labrador.
“It has a pleasant taste and flavor that is a bit like lamb,” he says. Yeah, except a lamb probably wasn’t some poor little boy’s favorite pet.
8 The Human Leech
Have you ever drunk another human being’s blood? You have? That’s just all types of sick! Okay, I’m kidding, but a 45-year-old woman from Pennsylvania isn’t. Each month, Julie Caples drinks up to half a gallon of the vital life force, which she acquires from willing donors who apparently come over to her house and let her slice them open. She says the blood makes her feel “stronger and healthier,” and she finds that she has an abundance of energy afterward. One wonders how healthy and full of energy she’ll feel when she catches a blood-borne disease.
7 Gas Guzzler
Chen Jejun will make you glad you have a locked gas cap on your vehicle. The Chinese man, 71, gets his motor running each day by downing gasoline, a habit that adds up to roughly 3.5 liters of petrol a month. Back in 1969, when Chen was experiencing a rough cough and some chest pain, the elders in his village suggested he try taking a shot of kerosene to soothe himself. The next day he was back to his normal self, except that he’d also picked up a nasty addiction—one that has caused him to drink about 1.5 tons of gasoline over the past 42 years.
Chen’s favorite pick-me-up has also cost him his marriage and family. After his wife and kids tried unsuccessfully to make him quit, he was forced to move into a cottage by himself, where he can now indulge in the go-juice as often as he pleases. Experts say they believe Chen’s body has built up a tolerance to gas over the years—which explains why he hasn’t dropped dead yet.
6 Scorpion Scarfer
In most places, scorpions are a feared predator. Especially the little ones, which haven’t yet learned how to regulate their venom, and will sting you until their supply is depleted.
Apparently, it’s the venom that has Li Liuqun addicted to eating 30 of these rotten suckers in one sitting. The 58-year-old from China says that, after being stung by a scorpion one day, he became so upset that he picked it up off the ground and bit its head off.
“It tasted sweet and nutty and I never looked back. To me, they’re delicious,” he said. Chinese doctors believe he has become immune, and even addicted to scorpion venom (and you thought heroin was bad).
5 Foam Party
You might want to think twice about inviting Adele Edwards over for a visit—or at least make sure you keep an eye on your furniture if you do. The 31-year-old woman from Florida has spent over two decades unzipping couch cushions and snacking on the foam inside. Her favorite preparation method is to take pieces of the foam outside, rub it in dirt, then eat it. She says it began as a coping mechanism when, at the age of 10, she witnessed her parents going through a rough divorce, and it has since escalated into a full-blown addiction.
She now eats her way through an estimated seven couches and three pillows per year, a fact that has doctors concerned she might die from her bizarre condition. After a week-long stay in hospital for an intestinal blockage, Adele was found to have an iron deficiency and has begun taking supplements in the hopes of curbing her foam-eating habit.
4 Love You To Death
A 26-year-old woman named Casie, who recently appeared on an episode of TLC’s My Strange Addiction, takes the bizarre eating thing to a whole new level. After losing her husband Shawn to a sudden asthma attack, Casie became obsessed with carrying his ashes around with her everywhere she went. It led to an accident one day when some of them spilled onto her hand.
“I didn’t want to wipe them off because that’s my husband and I don’t want to wipe him away,” she said. “So I just licked it off my finger.” She has already eaten around one pound of Shawn’s ashes, and describes the taste as being reminiscent of “rotten eggs, sand, and sandpaper.”
Remember when you were a kid and you used the F-word so constantly that your mom had to wash your filthy little mouth out with soap? No, wait a minute, that was me. Either way, that old-school method of punishment would have been even more brutal if it had involved swallowing five bars of soap a week, Tempestt Henderson’s bizarre choice of snack.
The 19-year-old from Florida can easily go through five bars each week, and even has a love for laundry detergent. She believes it began as a coping mechanism when her boyfriend Jason left her for college, and says she just feels all-around “cleaner” when she eats soap instead of just washing with it. Diagnosed with pica, Tempestt underwent cognitive-behavioral therapy and is working toward recovering from her addiction.
These just keep getting creepier and creepier. Meet Carie, a 53-year-old woman who drinks her own urine. Gross! She might as well use it to brush her teeth, take a bath in, and wash her eyes out with, too. In fact, you guessed it, she actually does. Carie drinks around 80 ounces of her own urine a day and even uses it in a neti pot for nasal irrigation. She’s in a fight against cancer and believes that drinking her own urine helps her to cope with the disease.
1 Milk Of My Daughter
Tim Browne of London drinks his daughter’s breast milk with cereal in the morning, but not because he has pica or is an oddball pervert. The 69-year-old was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and began drinking his daughter Georgia’s breast milk after hearing about an American man who did the same. Having gone through chemotherapy, Tim sides with the experts, who say there is promising research suggesting the cure for cancer just might be in human milk. He describes the taste as “not unpleasant, but slightly pungent.”