50 Days of Halloween, October 21: freaky facts and terrifying tidbits

I fancy myself a ‘weird aficionado’- I can tell you what Ed Gein purchased at the general store before he was caught for his heinous crimes faster than I can tell you how to bake a cake. The more oddball the fact, the more interested I am in storing it away for the next dinner party I’m attending.

With Halloween fast approaching, I dig through the ditches and burn through the witches to find some of the most macabre and random facts I could find.


A Rat King occurs when a large group of rats become fused together from their tails getting caked in ice, hair, blood, dirt, food and feces. The giant wad of squirming meat dies off slowly as the living rats eat the dead rats….. Fir trees can grow inside of you. Russian doctors once removed a two-inch fir tree from a man’s lungs…. Contraception has come a long way. An early form of protection was an alcoholic drink that included dried testicles of a beaver. Yeah…. Ever wonder what makes jelly beans so shiny? Shellac is used to coat your favorite tasty sweets. Shellac is made with the feces of an insect native to Thailand…. The ancient Romans are known for many things, but hygienic teeth may not be one of them. For toothpaste, they used a paste of crushed mouse brains and bicarbonate sodium to tend to their pearly whites…. Next time you’re in a subway tunnel, keep in mind that roughly 15% of the air you are breathing is composed almost completely of dead skin….

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After swimming in a public pool, do you ever notice your eyes are red? Most folks think that’s from the chlorine in the pool. It’s actually the result of the chlorine chemicals mixing with urine…. Disney’s theme parks have used real skeletons in the past for certain attractions, including their Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The company insists that practice is long retired but many believe there are still a few real skeletons still in more than one attraction…. In the 1922 film Nosferatu, Max Schreck (as Count Orlock) only blinks once during the entire run time…. Variety and The Hollywood Reporter published the shocking spoilers to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho several months before it was released, much to Hitch’s frustration…. Rock royalty Lou Reed lived near the set for the original Friday the 13th film and would visit the production during the night. He also played for cast and crew!…. Charles Domery, a Polish soldier serving in the Prussian and French armies, was put on ten times the usual rations once he was captured by British forces. He ate the prison cat and up to twenty rats, as well as candles. Domery also allegedly ate raw cow’s udder, over 150 cats in his lifetime and four to five pounds of grass each day….

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