Follow us into the danger zone! Today we're talking about something a little bit different and a lot more deadly: POISONS! In this supersized episode, we're bringing together our love of food stories with our addiction to true crime, and we’ve enlisted Danny Murphy, host of NOT ANOTHER TRUE CRIME PODCAST, as our accomplice - er, special guest. First, host Lia Ballentine tells us about a few holidays celebrating some everyday foods with poisonous potential, including a Japanese seafood delicacy (and underutilized emoji) more toxic than anthrax. She also introduces us to "extreme eaters" who dare to eat some of these dangerous dishes, and the festivities during National Poison Prevention Awareness Week (like a children's art contest?). Then in the Deep Dish, Danny tells us about his poison ivy superpowers, and what pufferfish have to do with the art of the perfect brunch. Finally, host Anna Van Valin and guest Danny Murphy tell the toxic tales of a few favorite real-life poisonings, from a professional assassin on a Roman Emperor’s payroll name Locusta, a woman we can hardly blame for poisoning her catfish husband named Marie LeFarge, to the Rajneeshi, a cult that pulled off the biggest bio-terror attack in American history using…salad. Grab your smelling salts and join us!
Danny Murphy is a comedian and digital creator who hosts NOT ANOTHER TRUE CRIME PODCAST on Betches and a weekly gossip segment on SiriusXM's BENNINGTON. He also created his own digital show VENTI VENTS, where caffeinating meets complaining.
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It was hard to find two different arsenic poisoning, 'cause there are a lot of unhappy wives throughout history. Like a lot. When divorce isn't an option, people get creative. That's all I'm saying.
I wonder if arsenic prices rose during the pandemic, whenever everyone was just stuck together, You don't know, I'm just being 100 right here, probably.
Supply demand, guys.
Hi everyone, from Yumday and Van Valin Productions, welcome to Every Day is a Food Day!
I’m your host, Lia Ballentine.
And I’m your other host, Anna Van Valin. We hope you’ve got your smelling salts ready...
Because in this episode, we’re living dangerously. Instead of focusing on a regular food like we usually do…
Today we’re talking about foods that all share one deadly feature…
“POISON” by Bell Biv Devoe
That’s right: today is all about POISONOUS foods. AND we’ve enlisted a special guest to be our accomplice.
In the Deep Dish, we’ll be indulging our True Crime addiction by telling you the stories of a few real-life poisonings - from a professional assassin on a Roman Emperor’s payroll, to a cult that pulled off the biggest bioterror attack in American history using….salad. And who better to help us tell these toxic tales than Danny Murphy, host of Not Another True Crime Podcast.
But first, I’ll be telling you about the few holidays dedicated to poisonous foods, a Japanese delicacy more toxic than Anthrax, and “extreme eaters” who make a career of eating dangerous foods.
If you’d like to support this women and BIPOC-created independent podcast, head to our website and click the button that says “Buy Me a Coffee” and, well, buy us a coffee.
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For more great content about the foods and stories we talk about on the show, and to get a peak behind the scenes, connect with us on social media by following @FoodDayPod, and check out the links in the show notes to our website and mailing list.
Queen: This is no ordinary apple, Its a magic wishing apple.
Snow White: A magic wishing apple?
Queen: Yes, one bite and all of your dreams will come true.
Snow White: Really?
Queen: Yes girlie, now make a wish! And take a bite!
So today we are talking about poisons and Lia, are there actual holidays for poisons?
Okay, so there aren't really a bunch of food holidays celebrating poisons, so, My segment is done. It's time for the deep dish!
When we come back, the deep dish.
Well, while there aren't really like holidays around poisonous foods, there are holidays that celebrate foods that could potentially be poisonous, if you don't prepare it properly. So we've got a couple, there's National Mushroom Month in September, and National Seafood Month in October, so I'm gonna focus in on a couple of these months here.
So National Mushroom Month, which is in September, we all know that we should be careful about what mushrooms we foraged from the wild.
But if you wanna know a little bit more about this month, it was actually created by the US Mushroom Council in 1993.
Now, is that counsel? Is that another word for board?
It's another board.
Oh, I knew it.
Yes, so there is a Mushroom council that uses the month of September to promote mushrooms. And did you know that the mushroom capital of the world is actually in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
Where is that?
It's a little town in Pennsylvania. They are the responsible for 50% of America's mushrooms,and they have a whole festival to celebrate it. They've got a parade and that started back in the 80s. They have a whole mushroom Week celebration, and one year for New Year's Eve, they did like an 800-pound mushroom drop. Similar to the ball drop in New York.
Wait, was it a 800 pound mushroom or was it like a ball covered in mushroom caps.
It was like a ball of mushrooms, a huge mushroom.
Yeah, that's too many mushrooms.
It's a way too many, But I was like, How in the world did this little town become the mushroom capital of the world, and legend is that 150 years ago, the Quakers decided to grow mushrooms in the unused spaces under elevated beds in their greenhouses.
It was pretty ambitious. You know, nobody else was really doing this, but there was an advantage that Kennett Square had, and it was because it was located next to a larger city, so at that time there was a ton of horse manure available to grow the Best mushrooms and to grow lots of mushrooms. And as you know, you need horse shit to grow delicious mushrooms.
I guess you do. So they had to go out, harvest the horse shit, then put it under whatever, their porch.
Sounds like a dirty job.
It is a dirty job. And then in October, you have national seafood month, which is something that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration promotes every year, really to raise awareness of the depleting fishing industry, but also in October and related to seafood, is National Pufferfish Day on October 9th. So I guess we kind of do have a poison food holiday.
The holiday is actually a reference that came from Urban Dictionary and it was just posted last year in October 2020.
So we obviously have to trust that this is a very real celebration.
Of course, totally. And according to the person who posted this day on Urban Dictionary, the deal is on the ninth of October, you must use the Puffer Fish emoji at least twice, or else you get bad luck with puffer fish until the next October 9th. So I don't think I use the pufferfish emoji last year.
Was this sponsored by the Puffer Fish emoji? Is there big pufferfish out there?
There's gotta be. It's gotta be like some secret thing, they're like, We gotta raise awareness of this emoji that's not used as much.
Underutilized emoji. listeners, I want you to use the Puffer Fish Emoji that I just learned existed at least once this week.
We wanna see that pop up in the comments.
Like, all pufferfish. All pufferfish.
Absolutely. Slide into our DMs. Pufferfish. What do you think that means?
I don't know, I'm kind of scared now.
I feel like every emoji has a secret meaning.
There's gotta be an emoji dictionary that tells you... This is like a naughty one...
Yeah, now I'm just looking up the emoji to see...Holy sh*t, It is there.
Yeah, there's a puffer fish one, I don't think I've ever used it. But now I will.
We are gonna start a movement. Listeners let's start a movement. On our Instagram DMs or comment what you think the pufferfish should be a symbol of, and we'll start a movement...
I love that.
Doesn't have to be sexual.
Yeah, it could be something very pleasant and PG.
It'll probably end up being about sex, don't worry about it .
It's gonna be, it's gonna be something dirty.
But we digress.
Yes, so speaking of pufferfish, which is probably one of the most, I guess, known poisonous foods out there. There is a national fugu in Japan, so fugu, what the Japanese referred to as the puffer fish or the blowfish, and fugu will fugging kill you if it's not prepared right.
Fugu will blow you away. I guess, 'cause people get puffed up and think they can handle eating the fugu, huh?
They do they really do. So on February the 9th, fugu day was a celebration that was started in 2003 by fugu dealers in Japan, so again, these boards, these councils, these dealers. And that year in 2003, they held a fugu fair at a major market in the city of Shimonoseki, and they served free fugu to the first 1000 visitors. I don't know if those people are still alive.
That seems dangerous also open or wet markets internationally, probably not things I'm gonna frequent any time soon, but... So is fugu always poisonous or is it once in a while, or is it a specific preparation you have to do...
Yeah, so Fugu is basically loaded up with poisons and toxins. So it's a delicacy in Japan, it's a luxury seafood, a very luxury ingredient, and you know the fugu, this fish has thorns all over its body, puffs up when it gets scared, so something about the thorns should just tell you like, Hey, do not touch... But people want it.
So this fish is super deadly, it's actually 200 times more poisonous than cyanide...
How are people allowed to eat it?
You have to make sure that it is prepared like perfectly, and it takes a lot of training for a chef to know how to prep a fugu, because in that fish, just two or three milligrams of the poison that's in it, which is a neurotoxin called Tetrodotoxin that can kill a human, it's more potent than arsenic, cyanide or even Anthrax. It's crazy.
Yeah, so this poison is in the organs of the fish, it's in its liver, its eyes and on the skin. So if you get poisoned, what happens is basically your mouth will start tingling, then it'll go numb and then all motor functions, cease your respiratory muscles just are paralyzed and ya dead. It's very rapid. It's violent. There is no antidote.
Like, don't call 911. Don't cry for me, Argentina. It's over.
Yeah, there's no antidote to the Tetrodotoxin, so it's really like... That's it. Okay, something crazy that I also read about these fugu fish. The female fugu are even more deadly than the male fugu because their ovaries are way more poisonous than the testes of the male fugu.
“Female of the Species”
Ovaries are more powerful. /Absolutely. I can absolutely get behind that.
/They are. So way more powerful and apparently during the spawning season, the toxins in the ovaries become really strong and super dangerous.
Is there a way to tell if it's like ovulating? Oh, nothing worse than a horny pufferfish.
But you know what, people have been eating this dish for centuries and it's been outlawed at like different points in history because you know it killed people.
Yeah. It can't be that good.
Yeah. Well they say that if you can, I guess if you survive and you're able to eat it, it's supposed to be amazing.
So is a Snickers bar.
Just eat your snickers bar, guys.
/Just have a Snickers if you're hungry.
But you know, it was like a delicacy. It's exciting. And in 1930, there was an organization called the Tokyo riori rename cooking Alliance, which was formed to ensure the safe consumption of fugu, so apparently after had been outlawed, there was a prime minister who really enjoyed fugu and he wanted to bring it back, but in order to do that you had to make sure, of course, that people who were getting their hands on it, we're preparing it and consuming it safely. and there's actually a statue of fugu in a park in Tokyo that commemorates the formation of the Alliance. And also as a tribute to its founders, like fugu is a big deal.
So you can eat it if it's prepared properly, but that definitely comes with a price...So you need to be a licensed shift to prepare this, and it takes years of training, there are exams, there are time test for this, can you prep a fugu and can you live...
Yeah, but what do you practice on? How do you know if they did it right?
So when you practice, it's like all on like how you butcher your fugu, how you take the organs out, and I think in one of the tests, if they spot a little bit of a blood or something off the plate, like you fail. If you do make it, you're considered to be one of Japan's elite chefs. If you can do this, and I mean, yeah, of course, you're alive. You cut up a fugu fish.
Yeah, I'm wondering if they do like your fugu comes with a little bell or something, and like if you start dying you can like ring the bell.
Guys, something's not right here.
Does anyone have an Epi pen? Anyone!
They probably do need to have something like that because if you're gonna be eating fugu, first of all, you're paying at least like $100 for a sliver of fish, it's very expensive, some places it's like thousands just to eat this, and the way it's prepared as you're eating this in sashimi form. So, it's like raw, thin slices of fugu.
Yeah. Something that I was reading was that some chefs will arrange the slices like pedals in the form of a chrysanthemum flower, and if you know anything about like Japanese culture, Asian culture and the meaning of the chrysanthemum this is kind of a morbid thing because that flower is used in funeral wreaths.
Oh my god. Wow, that's dark. I kinda like that.
It is really dark. But yeah, the classic preparation is in that sashimi form. And some chefs will do like a fried fugu or fugu hot pot, and I guess maybe that's a little safer for you, at least something is getting heated up and warmed up, maybe the toxin wouldn't be a strong and you can survive that.
You boil it off. Just boil it off. Boil off some of the poisons.
You're just reducing neurotoxins.
It's a toxin reduction.
There's also some places that will serve like a hot saki with charred fugu fin. Yeah, yes, but seriously, there's even one little mistake and how it's prepared, or if any of that Tetrodotoxin gets in you then, like, game over. You're done. Yeah.
Do you think if you're going... I mean, this is very American, of me to ask, but do you think if you're eating it at some restaurant, you have to sign like 50 pages worth of waivers and release forms and things that say your family can't sue the restaurant?
You probably do, I'm sure that in this day and age now, there's gonna be, you know, legal waivers and everything to just sign off.
Yeah, a lawyer has to talk to you first before.
I gotta get this thing notarized.Yeah, there has to be.
There has to be.
But what's crazy to me is that there are people who really want to live on the edge and eat things like fugu, and they call themselves, you know, adventures eaters, extreme eaters, and there's one writer named Tom Parker Bowles, I don't know if that name sounds familiar to you.
Yes. Related to Camilla.
Yes, it's the son of Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles.
Those fucking Royals.
I know, well, Tom spent a year in search of just dangerous foods, and he wrote a book and published it in 2006, and it was called “The Year of eating dangerously, a global adventure in search of culinary extremes.” And so he documents his time doing just this. Like eating poisonous foods, like fugu.
So what else did he try?
There were a lot of more bizarre foods, maybe less so poisonous, but bizarre things, people eating scorpions and snakes stuff, but the fugu's definitely one of the more poisonous, more potentially deadly lethal foods that he ate, and he's doing it because he was like a dare devil and it's kind of a food of the elite, because you really have to have that sort of money.
To be able to get a seat even with one of these chefs to make you the fugu dish.
So he was like, “Hey, remember how Prince Charles had an affair? Broke Diana's heart and emotionally abused her? Well, that was with my mom.” So, can I get a table? So I was like, Okay, what's the flavor gotta be like. It's gotta taste good. Right?
And some people do say It's really delicious, but then there are some that are like, it actually doesn't have very much taste, it's a subtle seafood flavor, like a white fish, Sashimi. So, I think that maybe people are just in on it, because of the danger aspect.
I can see that.
More so than like the flavor.
And to to say that You have eaten it and also that you have eaten it and survived, yeah, ideally.
Just like this guy who goes to Japan to eat fugu.
“Fugu dude” talks about preparing fugu
Speaker 1: Today, we will try 3 different fugu dishes. Sashimi, fried fugu and fugu hot pot. But first, I wanna show you how it's taken apart. So we are headed into the kitchen. He's gonna start to fillet this fish. First, the chef starts with the spine. Killing the fish instantly and allowing it to bleed out for 15 minutes, so we avoid ingesting any toxins in its blood. Step 2, fin removal.
Speaker 2: Puffer fish fin is used to make hitezaki. Hetizaki means puffer fish fins, so…
Speaker 1: I had that last night! Every part of the fish that won't kill you, gets used. Even the fin is served in sake. So they actually put the grilled fin inside?
Speaker 3: Exactly.
Speaker 1: But we will save that for another video.
Speaker 2: The dangerous part is in the organ.
Speaker 1: The chef makes quick work of the fugu. Removing its head, skinning it, then cutting out the poisonous organs.
Speaker 2: I made a mistake. This is a male.
Speaker 1: Oh it is a male. Can I eat the balls? I mean testicles?
Speaker 2: Yes, but they are very very tiny.
Speaker 1: This poor fish. He thought it was a lady, and then he's like, it's got tiny little testicles. Its not even worth eating.
Speaker 2: This is the organ, the most dangerous part.
Speaker 1: Finally, after sectioning off most of the body, the fugu fillet remains ready to be made into sashimi.
Speaker 2: The sashimi, both sides, to make a sashimi, we need to make a fillet.
Speaker 1: The other bits are saved for fried fugu and hot pot.
I feel like I would have phantom tingles.
I am just imagining it. I would think that my mouth was numb...
Yeah, having a psychosomatic, even a panic attack can make you feel like you can't really move...
And as if the fugu wasn't enough for some of these people, there are some adventurous danger eaters who have also jumped on the raw chicken bandwagon.
People be eating raw chicken.
But that's number one, don't eat...
That's the salmonella center of the world is raw chicken.
Yes, yes. So there is a dish, this is also Japanese, by the way, it's called tourasashi, that is basically raw chicken sashimi. Or you can get a torowasa, which is a chicken tartar. So yeah, you can get salmonella and Campylobacter, another terrible, bacterial disease. But again, I guess it's really all in the prep, so making sure you use the best chicken, and if you know that, like, the bacteria really live in the chickens intestinal tracks, I guess with the right preparation, you could technically eat the slices of raw chicken and be okay. I don't recommend it. But they do serve this at some yakitori spots in Japan, and you know if you want to try it here in the US, you can get raw chicken at a restaurant in Berkeley, California. And the restaurant's called Ippuku, and they do a raw chicken tartare with raw quail egg.
Is there something cultural in Japan about anti-cooking or pro-raw stuff or danger?
I don't know.
If anyone listening knows, has experience with this or knows more about Japanese culture and whether there's some... Whether this theme is rooted in something specific, like please let us know.
Yeah, we would love to know.
We would love any explanation, honestly.
Please tell us. But you know, you don't need to eat expensive fugu to get poisoned, you don't have to be like this man who only eat raw meat.
Raw Meat Guy
Narrator: 29 year old Daniel has a typical varied diet, except for one freaky habit. Daniel has been obsessed with raw meat for the past 6 years. He feeds his habit 4 times a week in pound after pound of raw beef and whole steaks pulled right from the packaging. Even raw chicken.
There are plenty of foods every day foods that could kill you. So in our French fry episode, we talked about potatoes being poisonous and killing people. Like royals
Can't eat the eyes.
Can't eat the eyes, because of a poisonous alkaloid that's found in potatoes, it's the stuff that helps the potato guard itself against insects. There are things like Apple seeds and peach pits, and those can be poisonous too. They have what is called Cyanogen glycosides, that when it's broken down, our bodies turns into hydrogen cyanide.
But don't worry too much because you would have to eat almost 200 Apple seeds.
/To die. But there are poisons found in all of these things in the peach pits, and the Apple seeds in the cherry pits.
Being poisoned was the pits. So you do not... Do not eat those seeds.
That's right. Another everyday food that could poison you?
Red Lobster, Cheddar Bay biscuit.
What? How dare you. I don't believe it. I won't believe it.
This story is not true at all, but it's one of my favorite viral internet stories from 2013, and if you haven't heard about this one, I have to share it 'cause I like... I love the story. So the story popped up online and it was about a food writer in Arkansas who ate 437 cheddar bay biscuits from a Red Lobster and ended up in a coma. It was such a crazy story, and it was published by this publication called The Rock City Times, which is a satirical news site, but it got picked up by tabloids around the world, so the sun was re-publishing this. The Daily Mail. And then everyone just picked it up and they're like, “Oh my God, this guy put himself in a coma from eating nearly 500 cheddar bay biscuits.” But it was not true. The author was just inspired to write this joke after he was at a Red Lobster eating biscuits with his friend, and if you've had those cheddar bay biscuits before.
Oh my God.
They are so freaking good.
I mean, I don't know that I could eat 437 of them, but I could eat 37 of them.
Yeah, I could too.
You know you can buy that mix.
The Bisquick Cheddar Bay?
Yeah, you can buy the mix, like powdered mix to make those things.
Oh my God, BRB. I'm gunna gunna go to the store to get some cheddar bay.
What I love in this article, the guy wrote that doctors believe the butter from the biscuits have block signals coming from the man's brain, and it went on to say that the doctor's drained two gallons of butter from the man's stomach.
I know. Just the visual. I mean, our stomachs can only hold a few liters of food, so... Two gallons of butter. Yeah...
That's like a fatbergs. You know the fatbergs that UH grow in sewage systems, water systems.
What are the fatbergs?
Oh God, don't google it. You're all gonna Google it.
Tell me about these fatburgs.
Fatburgs are the fat that is in our weight on our trash, so if you throw away a butter wrapper, there's fat on it, if you dump what's a little bit that's left in a vegetable oil, if you dump grease down the sink. All the fat isn't soluble, so it finds each other in sewer systems and water treatment systems, and the fat will glom onto itself and grow and grow and create fatburgs, like icebergs, that block sewage and water systems, and they have to go in with chain saws to break up these fat burgs. So, I'm just imagining a fatberg in this guy's colon.
The Cheddar bay fatberg.
But what a way to go.
Bridesmaids Food Poisoning Scene
Helen: You don't look very well, Annie.
Annie: I feel fine.
Helen: Are you sure? It wasn't that grey kind of lamb? Or you ate a lot of that weird chicken. Was it that?
Annie: No I feel fine.
Helen: I think you would just feel better if you threw up.
Annie: I don't have to throw up.
Becca: *vomits* I'm so sorry…
Rita: Get away from me!...
Becca: What did we eat?... Ahhh!...
Megan: The sinks a goner.
Becca: What are you doing?
Megan: It's coming out of me like lava!
In case you were wondering, there is a national poison prevention Week, which is the third full week of March every year, and this was something that was established by congress in 1961, and I don't know if you remember doing this as a kid, but in school, they always had poison prevention lessons. Did you ever do that? Or was that just me?
I probably did, I don't remember that off the top of my head, but what I do remember is watching a video in home ec called The Danger Zone. And it was all about what temperature you need to cook your food to, and if you're under that, you're in the danger zone, and so there'd be like people cooking and they'd be like, “Oh, the chicken’s done.” And then a Demonic Chef Spirit would come out and be like, “yes, you're in the danger zone.” I don't remember what temperature I think was supposed to be, I don't remember how I was just to know that anything was cooked thoroughly, but I went 100% remember the demonic chef going “Come to the danger zone.”
Oh my Gosh.
Good job Transit Middle School. You tried, it didn't stick.
Like even the demonic chef and not get them to remember what temperature your chicken needed to be.
I mean, there's only so much my 12-year-old brain was gonna receive... And is it gonna be like the number? Or is it gonna be the Demonic Chef?
Totally the demonic chef.
I think it would like come out of the pantry or something. Like a whole. A whole thing.
I wish I had seen that video. I feel ripped off now.
Listeners, if you can find that thing, I'll go on an internet hunt and try to find that thing.
Awesome, please do. I just remember things like warnings about household items and products that can poison, you don't ingest this, keep it locked in your cabinets.
There's a great episode of Radiolab, about the Crisis Prevention Hotline.
Yeah, 'cause there was the line you can call in case you or someone you know might have ingested a poison or was poisoned...
Right. Apparently, 99% of the calls are nonsense, 99% of the time, it's just somebody's like “My dog ate a stick of butter!” and they're like, he's gonna have the poops, but. “My kid ate hand lotion!” It's gonna be gross for you. Anyway, tell me about national poison prevention week. I digress.
Each year, the poison Council holds a children's artwork contest to raise awareness, so nothing like doodles to warn you against poisonous items and products.
I 100% need to see these drawings.
What do you think the drawings are? It's like Xs over eyes.
Someone just vomiting blood with the bottle of Windex in their hand.
That's what I would have drawn. I worked really hard to make it very real to.
You asked for a poison…
I'm trying to warn people!
It’s a very important matter, guys! Yeah, so there's an actual proclamation for national poison prevention week on these proclamations, make it very official, and the latest one has a little stats in it, so we have these commemorations and it's always because of... Whereas, right.
Each year, the nation's poison control centers answer more than 2.6 million calls. But 90% of them are like, My dog ate the butter. And 93% of poisonings do occur in people's homes. Anna, I think, gonna talk about probably some of these poisonings that have happened in people's homes.
And I can't wait to hear more about that.
A lot of poisonings happen within families in homes with household items and food because those poisons you need to ingest. Either making food in a way that will not settle so well with your family members or putting poison in them.
Just like Here, “eat all of these Cheddar bay biscuits because I love you, honey.”
Honey, we're having cheddar Bay biscuits for dinner tonight. 400 of them. Save your appetite. Skip lunch.
And you can’t eat the table until you’ve eaten all of them...
Alright, Is that it for poisons?
That's it. That was it for Poisons.
That was awesome, Lia. Thank you for sharing all of that with us.
Oh, you're welcome. It was my pleasure
Coming up next in the Deep Dish, Danny Murphy from Not Another True Crime Podcast joins us to talk about a few of the most fascinating and scandalous poisonings of all time.
Toxic by Britney Spears
This is every day is a food day Season two episode 2. You ready? 3,2,1. *claps*
That was really good.
That felt fresh.
That was pretty solid
Yeah that woke me up!
Long time listeners, you all know that Lia and I, in addition to being obsessed with food stories, are obsessed with true crime stories, which was part of the inspiration for this episode, so in the Deep Dish today we're going to indulge our love of true crime by telling you the stories of a few real poisonings throughout history, and who better to help us with that than the host of an actual true crime podcast, Danny Murphy.
Danny is a comedian and digital creator who hosts Not Another True Crime podcast on Betches and a weekly gossip segment on SiriusXM’s Bennington. He also created his own digital show, Venti Vents, where caffeinating meets complaining. Welcome Danny!
Hi, How are we? I mean, my favorite topics are food and crime, so it's really... I feel like I'm home.
You are, welcome home. Welcome home.
You guys, thank you so much for having me.
Oh my gosh, we're so excited that you're here...
We're so excited to have you we’re excited to have a boy. No, I'm so glad to finally get some testosterone in here. Bring it Danny.
I'll try to bring it as much as I can. I feel, listeners know, the voice doesn't bring it, but I don't shave, so there's that... That can make up for it.
I've stopped doing that too. This past year.
Yeah, me too.
I know all these people saying they're vaxxed and waxed I'm like, I did not knowThe second part was as important as the first is missed that news alert from Fauci but I'll get on that. I just hadn't had the time.
Also, I don't know that that's necessary. At this point, the bar is low, people are lonely.
Yeah, it's so low. Every time I get a delivery, now I'm just like, Do you want to move in?
I shaved my legs the other day just because I knew that if I waited any longer, the razor would not be able to handle it. It was just. It was literally now or never.
Did you need like a whet stone for the blade just <sound>
But today we're talking about poisons. So, Danny, do you have any history with poisons?
Yeah, or can you not tell us. Because you'll incriminate yourself.
I'm like, What is the jurisdiction on no, I feel like growing up, And this probably is the universal poison for any person that grew up in a suburb or something that like poison ivy was the big thing.
And it's the big... 'cause I grew up near a park, that had a little woods area, so everyone was like. So like that's what every was pointing out f****** like twigs dandelions, thinking it was poison ivy. Everyone was so on edge, but I found out I don't get affected by poison ivy.
Oh, you're one of the lucky ones.
Because me and my friends were playing around and some of it ended up up being poison ivy and I was the only person who came out unscathed.
Oh, look at you, is that you're superpower...do you think?
I think it is my super power or it's just like, my immune system is so sh***, it just didn't even register. I'm allergic to everything. That's why I really thought it was like end of days for me, 'cause if I can't even... I go outside right now, even the allergies, I'm red-eyed fully. I can't eat any tree fruit or something in that, but poison ivy is fine with me.
Wow. What a strange pay off? Do you think your immune system is just like, “oh, we have bigger fish to fry here. I can't be worried, I can’t be bothered.”
Right? They can't be bothered or just like karma being the truest b**** ever because the amount of times I go outside is so minimal, the amount of times I face-to-face with poison ivy now is just truly not existing, I don't a camp, I don't even go on hikes 'cause I don't walk that far, I’m in the city, so it doesn't really do anything for me. But It's nice to know, there were some moments last year where I really have thought we were all gonna be Hunger Gamesing it, so it's good to know I could survive in the woods for a little bit...
Yeah. You really could.
Have you ever tried puffer fish?
I did not know it was a food that you could eat.
You shouldn’t eat it. It will f***** kill you.
That is true. That's kind of one of those things that is just truly survival of the most adapted out to play, it's like What dumb idiot out there would look at a puffer fish and say, I'm gonna eat that, it's like you're asking for to get poisoned or attacked like who would look at a pufferfish, think that's delicious.
Right! The things got the thorns on it.
It's basically telling you, don't eat me.
But there is the puffer fish emoji.
Have you used it?
I low key love the puffer fish emoji.
Lia, we are behind and missing out.
Oh my gosh, I know!
Oh it’s for no, it means nothing. Because I feel like I am one of those texters, I like to always make the text like exclamation point because I want No one thinks I'm mad at them when I'm texting, but then I look back and I'm like, These are too many exclamation points, what can I do to kind of make it seem more chill, so I'll just throw in random emoji is just like... 'cause I'm so nervous that anyone will hate me? So I have been using the puffer fish a lot, I use a lot of just the random stones, confettis more of a classic, but I kind of just really divvy up, there's a lot of unknown emojis out there that you can use to really diffuse tension and the puffer fish is one of them.
I can just see a friend text and your friend is like, road hazard sign? What is a road hazard sign? Road hazard, monkey, rain drop?
Is he mad at me?
I was gonna say, I was like, I've never told anyone I do that really when I'm texting them. So they probably are just hieroglyphic decoding being like, What the f***? Do you mean something fishy? Are you going to get coffee? Can I send you a biore strip, which I always take, you know what I mean.
They're just trying to decipher a pictogram.
I guess it's always just like a national treasure situation going on. I would actually take a redone Declaration of Independence. It's only in emoji, so people can understand that laws can change, you know that means...
It is a living document.
Yes, that's right.
Okay, the next amendment. will only be written in emojis.
Yeah, just emojis.
Lia and I had the thought that we should start a movement to assign a meaning to Puffer fish, so if we do that, what meaning or kind of meaning could the Puffer Fish symbolize.
I kind of feel... And this is something will hopefully, now that life is starting to return to normal-ish-ish, I loved doing... Me, my friends called the bang-bang, where it's like after brunch and you're so hungry you go to eat another meal. And I feel the puffer fish would be perfect for that 'cause it's bloated, but like smiling a little bit, so it's like, I'm ready to eat more. I probably don't need to, but I will have more.
Okay, I love this. I love it.
Well and also Lia, you told us about the extreme eaters and over-eaters, so they're still a danger in there.
There is... Am I gonna be like the cheddar bay biscuit dude? I don't know.
We can only hope.
There is definitely, you play with fire, bang, banging, puffer fishing, because there is... You will end up with a stomach ache at the very least, or just like regret.
You kind of put yourself into a coma after that...
Well, and at that point, when you're ready for the second bang, you have forgotten how many of those mimosas you have ingested and.
And everything sounds like a great idea after that third mimosa.
Oh it's so good. The biggest thing, and this is what I can't wait to go back to it. Just like when you don't, when you just... Your drink never empty, so it never refills, you're just like, I'm still on one, it's like now, five pitchers have come to your table, jury dismissed that whole situation, it's just so magical, and you're just down for anything. Exactly.
I love that I say we go with that.
Me too I love it.
So listeners, once we are all allowed to go back and socialize into the world, and you feel like double featuring your brunch or your meals, we want you to use the pufferfish, and you know what? If you're still at home, if you're still social-distancing it, and you want two lunches, we are with you.
We are behind you, safety first.
Oh, 6 feet behind you, because if they're social distancing and they don't wanna say close that close behind you... And that's even more fun. You could just have different things like in your dining room then in your kitchen, you know what I mean? Just make each play your own brunch set up.
Oh, I like that.
It's very biased to people who don't live in the city because you don't really... You run out of space and rooms, pretty fast. But you can be creative.
You're eating in your living room because it is also a dining room...
I lived in New York for 15 years, I get that. Okay, so now that we have solved the mystery of the Puffer fish emoji, shall we move into talking about poisonings?
LIA AND DANNY 0:38:34
Let's do it.
The Princess Bride
Westley: You guessed wrong.
Vizzini: You only think I guessed wrong, thats whats so funny! I switched the glasses when your back was turned. Haha you fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous, is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well known is this. Never go against a cicilian when death is on the line. HAHHAHAH….<dies>
There are so many poisonings to choose from, right? So we got all the way back to Socrates. Rocking that hemlock, Rasputin, half the characters in Hamlet. Fidel Castro's poison laced scuba diving suit, courtesy of the CIA, that charmer, Marshall Applewhite and his Heaven’s Gate followers, and pretty much anyone who criticizes Vladimir Putin. So. Hang in there Navalny.
Hang in there, but also only have closed water bottles, you know what I mean? Just to be safe.
If the seal is broken, do not drink out of it.
Do not. Navalny, be smart, I know you don't wanna drink out of the toilet, but I'm saying...
Now might be the time to start as a shared water source. That's all I'm saying, although I would not put it past Putin to just poison the whole...
Yeah, not at all.
To poison the whole system, he’ll be like, we’ll get him eventually. Anyway. Is it coming for us now?
Every single time I talk about someone I'm like, this is it. It's Putin to Oprah, you know what I mean? I'm just always worried someone with a lot of money will be like, Okay, I don't like your tone.
We're really paranoid about the Maple Syrup Cartel and the National Pork Board, they are intense. They will take you down, so.
They seem scary, but luckily you have a few months, 'cause travel restrictions are still a little in place ish, so it's too much paperwork to go from Canada to America right now, but in a few months that... That's when you guys start to run.
True. So let's insult everyone right now.
While we have the chance.
So a lot of options, but I've narrowed it down to my top four favorite poisonings of all times.
I'm just surprised you were able to narrow it down to four. There's so many.
It was hard!
But I really wanted to give the people like a breadth of time periods, different personalities, methods. It was hard to find two different arsenic poisoning, 'cause there are a lot of unhappy wives throughout history. Like a lot. When divorce isn't an option, people get creative. That's all I'm saying.
I wonder if arsenic prices rose during the pandemic, whenever everyone was just stuck together, You don't know, I'm just being 100 right here. Probably.
Supply demand, guys. It's a tough time.
Our first poisoning... We're gonna go back. Travel with me back. Du du du du. We're traveling back to the first century. Rome
That is insane to me.
I'm so bad at history, I'm like, That's not a real time, but I'm like the first century’s a thing?
That's like dragons and stuff... Right.
You know what I mean?
So our first poisoner is a woman named Locusta, who lived in ancient Rome in the first century. So Locusta was born around the year 20 ad, which is apparently a year. In Goal, an outer province of Rome that is now part of France. And she went into training as a healer, apothecary, a chemist, and during that training, she learned all the both positive and negative properties of plants, herbs, chemical compounds, things like that. And she said to herself, “everyone is using the good uses of these materials, but no one's taking advantage of the dangerous uses.” And poisonings were not unheard of, there were a lot of political rivals, there are a lot of rich relatives is suddenly succumbed to a heart attack and things like that, so she thought... This could be a big business. Basically, she identified a gap in the market...
You know what.
And applied her skill set.
She had her goals in Goal or wherever she is, you know what I mean? She was meet and reaching them... Yeah.
So some historians have referred to her as a Necro-entrepreneur...
Which I believe in the 90s, I have a shirt from Hot Topic that said Necro-entrepreneur, too.
I think I had that also and I'd wear it with my ginkgos.
I wore it with my flare jeans and my lace chokers.
And Gwen Stefani was the only person who understood you.
She's still the only person who understands me.
So Locusta's operation worked like this, she experimented with plants, opium, Hemlock, nightshade, which we learned about in our French fries episode, it comes from potatoes. Gotta do the eyes out, people. And she developed her own stable of poisons and began selling her services, she grew a reputation for discretion, which attracted wealthy clients, high profile clients, and they also had the added benefit of if she got caught, they could pay her way out of prison. So Locusta grew her clientele, she grew her experience, she had two proteges, it was a trio of them, so of course they got called witches, etc.
Oh of course.
I feel like any time a woman has a skill set or knowledge that a man could get paid for... She's a witch.
Oh, exactly. And it still hasn't changed 'cause now they do... Well, now they're just... Switched the first letter, now they just say, she's a b****. You know what I mean. It really is so insane.
Yeah, yeah, seriously. So in 54 AD, Locusta was hired by Empress Agripina, who was the niece slash third wife of Emperor Claudius.
A classic combo.
So Agrippina's plan was to convince her Emperor slash Uncle slash husband to name her son from a previous marriage, Nero as his heir and then kill him. So there were two challenges to this plan that she needed Locusta's help with. Number one, Claudius was paranoid, so he was surrounded by guards and food tasters. And two, Claudius had a very unhealthy relationship with food. Although he's probably not the only Roman to do this. And so he used to purge food after he ate it, so he could eat more.
Wasn't that called a barfatorium, right?
Yes, in theaters and arenas, the space where people walk in is called the vom, the vomitorium, because in arenas, people used to gorge themselves and then they would lean over the side of the edge into the entry and vomit so they could do it again.
Okay the next amendment. will only be written in emojis.
Can I say one of the smarter things they have invented, because there are just some clubs in the east of village that really could benefit, 'cause I have slip and slide and it's not fun. Walking by and God knows what... So if there was a controlled space there, they could just go do their business and head home, it really would... They should bring that back.
I agree, maybe like a dedicated stall in the restroom, something just to vomit in. Oh my God, I just we are just spitting gold here.
What he used to do, which is very graphic and poetic, is he had a special feather, so he would keep his feather in his dining space and then when he was done eating, he would shove it down his throat to tickle his throat, to engage his gag reflex in order to throw up. So there was the official Royal vomit Feather.
Wow! That feather looks, nasty, let me tell you that.
Yeah, sounds like a really gross feather... Surely he had like the other feathers.
I was thinking about this and I was like, I feel like that would work once and then it's just a spear.
Yeah, it's a crusty spear too.
It's a crusty, nasty spear. You don't even need to stick it down your throat to vomit, just like Get it close to you.
So, he's the Emperor, he probably had more feathers at his disposal. So Locusta came up with a multi-part poisoning plan for Agrippina because part of I was just specialty was not just mixing poisons, mixing the substance, she would like design assassinations based on a specific scenario that the poisons were going to be used.
So Locusta gave Agrappina a poison to put on Claudius mushrooms at dinner, but she also gave her a poison to lace the feather with. She was concerned that after he ate all his food, he would puke it up so the poison might not have enough time to work, so she got a foundational layer in with the mushroom poison, and then when he went to vomited up, he did the laced poison feather like straight into his gullet.
Yes. And when Claudius collapsed from all the poison, he called her his personal physician, but don't worry, because Lacusta had Agrippina pay him off.
Yup there we go.
She had it taken care of. like, full strategy.
Full strategy. There was a PowerPoint, a timeline. Everything was color-coded.
The org chart was there... Yeah.
So it worked. And poor Claudius died, and Agrippina had convinced him to name her son Nero as his heir, which meant that Nero was now emperor, however, Agrippina to cover her own ass, turned on Locusta.
Denying ever hiring her. Ever known her and having any part in murdering the king. So Locusta got thrown in prison.
No. That is so, I'm like, I'm sad now.
Yeah, me too.
I know, I guess Julius Caesar wasn't the only one who got stabbed in up back.
The bullying there, they really needed some anti-bullying PSA down there in Rome.
Rome... Seriously, Agrippina be best.
This story is so interesting to me too, because I feel like it happened so much in a lot of crime cases, I see that experts of a field that you can do for good like a lot of doctors. Some of them do the flip side where they're like, Oh, I can open up a person to save them, or I could just open up a person and kill them.
You know what I mean? It's very interesting, so it's weird to see how this has been happening since the ones.
Exactly. Well, I read some quote that said rule of thumb “poisons and small doses are medicine, but medicine in large doses are poison.”
So that is true, 'cause two Tylenol, great. 22 tylenol, not so great.
That's very bad.
That is interesting, I like that quote. Okay.
Yeah, so the following year Locusta was still in prison, but Nero went to her and said that he would pardon her from all past and future crimes if she would help him kill his step-brother slash cousin Claudius's son, Britanicus to avoid any potential challenges to the throne uprisings, etcetera. So Locustas like, I'm here for it.
Yeah, she's like get me out of jail.
So she devised a plan for Nero, now apparently in Rome, it was customary to dilute wine with water to adjust its temperature, so Locusta arranged for Britanicus's wine to be served to him, scalding hot. So when he received his wine scalding hot, he asked for cold water to cool it down, so they brought Him a bowl of cool water that was filled with poison.
She is tricky because she could have just put the poison with the cool wine in the beginning, but she made it a spectacle.
She really did.
No, no because because the food taster would taste the food and the wine, but not water to water in the pitcher.
Not the pitcher. Fricking genius.
Genius. So, it worked. Nero freed her, pardoned, gave her the title, are you ready for this, of “imperial poisoner” lavished her with gifts and provided her with condemned prisoners to experiment on.
Oh, what an ending.
Do you think it was in her benefits package, it had to go through HR.
She negotiated our contract, she's like, I will need a standing desk and some prisoners.
So this went on for a while, but in 68 AD again or another real year, the Roman Senate was sick of Nero's shit and overthrew him, Locusta couldn't exactly deny all the poisoning such that was literally her job is she was tried and sentenced to death in the year 69 AD. So there isn't a ton of specific recordings about Lacusta, but an author named Tacitus described in his annals, anuals, anals.
The anals of history.
Hey, back in the day... Yeah, that was their thing.
I mean it was Rome. It was no ancient Greece, So So he wrote, “this was the famous Locusta, a woman lately condemned as a dealer in clandestine practices, but reserved among the instruments of state to serve the purposes of dark ambition.”
I love that.
That's kind of chic.
I mean, not a bad way to be remembered.
Like, honestly. And also, back then it was a job title, she's just doing her work, it's on her fault that she was climbing to corporate ladder. So I am loving the theme that poison kind of does correlate with strong women, sometimes you gotta... Sometimes it is what it is.
It's interesting that poison, although it was used for all these different things of political rivals and stuff, what it is generally considered a weapon favored by women because it doesn't involve having to physically overpower...
Oh, that is true.
Someone. And because women throughout history have been responsible for food, cooking, it was pretty easy for them to integrate it into delivery vehicles.
Oh, wow. Okay. So I wonder if that's on that girl is poison was really all about this. You never know.
I think it was actually slut shaming, but we can just go with that too…
I feel like that's also just all of history... I think it was slut shaming. You're either a slut or a witch that basically... And that is tale as old as time.
You can choose which one. But only those two.
Or you can be hopefully in between that you're a boss bitch, like Marie Formecapelle, that's my two years of French coming hopefully in clutch there.
That was beautiful, tell us more.
Borne. Thats all I got. She was born in France, 1816. A year that feels a little more real to me, but also not that much...
Or you know what I mean?
The 1800 to me are just like Dickens, Civil War, Victorian era. All at once. In my head.
Exactly. Victorian secrets, not Victorian secrets. So she was also in a font, she was an aristocratic family member, having a lot of in like that, but orphan, so she was sent to live with her aunt and uncle, I feel like that's how so many history stories start to...You know she was vaxxed and waxed. She was trying to find a suitable husband. So I feel like what happened so much then the uncle just picked one for her when love was in the air, it's like instead of “coffee meets bagel” it's “Uncle meets marriage broker” and they found Charles Laforge and staged a little meet cute for her at an opera, which is cuter than most meetings people have now, so we'll give them that. Except for the fact that He was crude, disgusting and 20 years older than her.
If that's your thing, that's your thing. It was not her thing. But of course no one gave a shit on what she thought, so it sort of was like done deal, they also decided it was funny, the reason I think they were trying so hard to set her up with him is 'cause he had a big talk, he kept on saying he was in upper class, wealthy, had all these foundries, which just sounds rich.
You know what I mean, if someone says like, I have a lot of foundries were like ...
It could just be some rocks in his backyard, but it's, we call it a Foundry.
So after the wedding though, He brought marie back to her home and she discovered that he was the b**** was broke, bankrupt, from a lot of bad investments. And the palatial estate that he had... That he had such a big talk on... And he even brought pictures he drew pictures, he drawings of the estate, it was a.
Foamed down monastery, monastery. That was the result of the bad investment. So he was living in that.
Oh my gosh, this is like a terrible catfish deal.
A terrible catfish, but also I feel like the situation of any apartment I've ever gone to look at.
Well, they call any apartment luxury now, luxury apartment in corrugated steel behind. The sink is the toilet.
Oh that's exactly it. They are like, there is plumbing here. You're like, Okay, thank you, Ill make sure. So no s***, the thing is, if she was in love with him, maybe she could have seen past this, I don't know that because the fact that she did not want to marry this man, she was not attracted to this man, this man was gross, she wanted to leave but weirdly, divorce wasn't a thing back then.
No, no, no. Wasn't women... What's the word for it? Property?
They were property, yeah…
So she couldn't leave. So, you know, there weren't group chats back then, you're gonna be like, Guys, how do I deal with this? You gotta get creative.
Right! Look, if you're gonna limit somebody's options...
You gotta get to poison. After... So it's kind of a day, it's sort of kind of an inspiring tale, and I know it's maybe I’m hazy on poisoning. But she was so beat like she was beating herself up, she even was threatening to take her own life really down in the dumps, so she thought, she loved in the mirror, she said Marie, I am done pretending to be head over heels in love with this man. I'm gonna find a thing to do, and then she sent him... Well, he was the thing, she sent him a fruitcake as a gesture of love, and he immediately became a little ill.
What was in the fruit? Was it a bad apple or a good poison?
It's those freaking little round things that were in the fruitcake.
Yeah those little green jelly things they put on the top, but she rolled those in arsenic.
Jingle: “That’s a Callback”
So like the good, loving wife that she was, she was feeding him soup, sugar water, even eggnog, love how they tried to help people back in the day. So here's an eggnog. Imagine giving someone who's sick eggnog? But weirdly he kept getting sicker.
Oh, that's strange.
So strange. The eggnog wasn't working?
Right. Weirdly the combo of soup and eggnog. Either that or something else mixed into it, and then family members started to come to take care of Charles, 'cause they're like, This is all hands-on deck situation. I don't know where the family members were before to cut a boy a check, so he didn't have to live in the monastery that was run down besides the point. And there's always... Just like orphan story, I always starts with going, an uncle, there's always a cousin that gets involved with a relationship or something that.
Nosey, skeptical cousin.
Skeptical cousin. Anna Brun was his cousin, and she got a little spicious when she saw that Marie was starring just a full on stirring in public a white powder from a little box into his eggnog and soup.
Maybe it was just Ovaltine. Drink you ovaltine.
Maybe it was like a fiber powder or... He was a irregular...
It's a whey. It's whey protein.
Immediately, Marie was like, “Oh, it's orange blossom powder,” which does sound delicious by the way, Anna brought this to the doctor with suspicions that Marie might be drugging him, but the doctor did not believe her all and Anna save some of the eggnog and soup and hid it from Marie, so just all I'm all in visually now though, is soup and eggnog under a bed sitting for a week.
I mean just doing that will turn into poison.
How do you think the film on top would have...
Truly they just probably look the same… Now that you are all at home vomiting imagining that, Charles was also vomiting and he was gonna be more sick and the family found out, but the day after Charles returned from a trip, Marie had asked a gardener to get... I didn't know gardeners had the arsenic connections, which she did say was to make a paste to control the rats in their beat down, run down house, so kind of... I don't blame a b****, don't know one saw any rats…
And also no one saw rats cuz of the arsenic.
ANNA and LIA 0:59:59
It was working!
And then so now more like the cousin stole Marie's little box again, and the families, she was telling the family everything like that, they went to another doctor with the suspicions, they believed them, but it was t oo late, and Charles died. I know, so poor little Charles.
He went to the foundry in the sky, yeah.
So the family went to the justice of peace, who was skeptical. I love to go into a justice of peace just in person and be like this is arsenic. And they ordered a.. Order to post mortem on Charles and testing of the food Anna had set aside and the rat paste, I also did not know... Well, here's the thing, I didn't know about this until you told me about this, I did not know science was caught up with this, ish.
Yeah, this seems like CSI work, right?
Yeah, but how reliable was this... I feel like we're still in the era of like, Do you throw the rat poison in the water to see if it drowns… If it glistens under a full moon. It's poison, I don't know.
Yeah, exactly. It was as reliable as fingerprinting was in the 90s. So they were doing this thing in the autopsy, they removed to stomach to test arsenic and then buried him good night, but testing the remains was a little questionable, and the scientists use very outdated methods, doii, everything then was outdated. They ran tests, had all these different results and what was conclusive the only that was conclusive was that the rat paste turned out to be just water and flower, and the white powder in Marie's little box that the cousin stole was arsenic.
So, she was buying arsenic purportedly for the rat paste, but then just making basically cookie dough, as rat paste?
That's like my sourdough.
It was just these little rats, having the best life ever being like, “oh thank you Marie” doing a whole little adorable thing. Just like, “sil vous plait.”
Some of the rats were like, I'm watching my carbs, Marie.
So this led to Maries arrest. So the trial was actually very interesting because the media and public recaptivated, and I feel like this was kind of the time when that became a thing where I was kind of like, Chicago-y just like the new person on trial, everything going on type of situation. They gave Marie alternate description as either a sad, pretty young widow, accuse of a crime or a manipulative, ambitious girl who used her family wills to gain his fortune, even though if you listened, shes gotta broke down house.
There were no foundries.
Just like nothing. But I love this, the defense argue that the arsenic test should be thrown out because they had been botched so many times, plus they did not use this new standard, which was the marsh test, which... Quick Google search just looks like evil scientist, it looks Frankensteinian. It's kind of like I can only assume. It's like how chemical X was made in the Powerpuff Girls, where it was just like beaker broke things everywhere. You either get arsenic or triplets.
Let's hope arsenic.
What's worse? Truly pick your poison. Children or poison. Just kidding to the parents out there, but potentially... So here's the thing, it gets mixed with zinc and acid creates a gas, the gas makes the flame... If there's arsenic metallic film to... There's so many moving parts is that I feel like it's just a recipe for actual disaster and nothing can totally come for it.
So they're using their testing, like bits of Charles? They are running bits of Charles through this test?
Well, I think this is what had to happen. They do like to test the bits of Charles.
So, the judge, wanted these tests to be done, but they ran out of his organs, so they had to exhume the body to get more samples, this man is not resting in peace, he literally resting in pieces, 'cause they're just chopping off the fingers saying, well, lets just try that out.
Oh my God.
The body was so badly decomposed that he was more like a paste, which after reading that...
Ew. So do they get like a melon baller... Like an ice cream scoop? And they were just like.
Scooping it up.
We need 3 scoops of Charles.
The little Ziploc bag that you put the thing of the funfetti frosting, you're like more Charles. I know this made me really think of wanting to be cremated because I don't wanna be a paste.
Yeah, I don't want to be a paste.
That's just a mental note I wrote myself. So they hired a Spanish scientist, Mathil Ophela, who was trained in the marsh test to come perform it in front of public... I f****** love old school courts where it's like, you just do this test in public and everyone is watching. The results were positive, and Marie was convicted to life in prison. Died a hero... I guess she did end up dying because this was over 200 years ago, but she went on to inspire a lot of writers like George Sand and Alexander a Dumas who supported her... Robert de Lusarc wrote a poem lamenting her case. So she kind of inspired a nation, if you will...
Wow, so people still took her side.
You know what? I'm in the middle. I'm just gunna say.
You know what, if Uncle had just asked her what she wanted with her life, and if hubby had just maybe given her some, been a good partner...
Exactly just let a b**** go to the opera in peace. Don't make her have to date 50-year-old man after it.
I wonder if she was in prison and she was like, mmm, worth it. Its better than a busted a** monastery.
I feel like the prison, all the people she was with thought she was a hero. So at least she has that.
Yeah. I mean, when I was reading all these stories about women poisoning their husbands, honestly, I just assume they deserve it. I just assume.
It's really hard to be like, Oh, you're bad. I'm like, but he was a piece of s***.
But what did he do?
Lets reverse the victim-blaming. Let's flip around the victim blaming here.
For once in our lives.
For once, let's flip it around. That was amazing. Thank you for telling us about Madame Marie Lafarge... What a character. I'm telling you poison stories are people's stories too.
“Cell Block Tango,” Chicago
Okay, so let's fast forward a little... We're still in the 1800s, whole Dickens Civil War. Little Women, I'm assuming. We're gonna talk about a woman named Amy Dugan Archer Gilligan. So Amy Duggan was born in Milford, Connecticut in 1873 to a modest family, like lower middle class family, but the family had a serious history of mental illness, and it is said that seven out of the 10 children in the Dugan family had struggles with mental illness were treated and even institutionalized. There's some genetic predispositions here, but I'm sure that won't come into play.
Debatable. In the year 1896, at the age of 23, Amy married her first husband, James Archer. They had a daughter, and after a few years of living in Connecticut, they moved into the estate of a man named John Seymore, who was pretty elderly, frail, and so Amy took care of John in return for rent.
Okay, you know trade off.
I'd spoon some pudding for free rent.
Oh, honey. I'd spoon a lot for free rent. Yeah.
So after John died in 1904, Amy and James rented the estate from his heirs and opened a home that they called Sister Amy's nursing home for the elderly. Now, though Amy was a Christian, she was a church-going Christian, she was not a nun at all or anything like that, she did not take vows, she did not appear and sister act, she was not a nun. It was more of like a marketing fit. You're safe with me. I'm a sweet little nun, right. In 1907, they moved to Windsor, Connecticut and bought a big red brick building, and they turned that into the Archer home for the elderly people and chronic Invalids.
Rolls off the tongue.
I don't know that that name would fly now, but we'll go with it. So they had about 10 to 20 residents at any given time, and they were cared for primarily by Amy, Amy did everything in this establishment, so she did the cooking and the cleaning, she managed the facilities, she did the medication, she gave medical attention and care to the patient, so it was really Amy's enterprise. And how the business was set up was that the patients could either pay a lump sum up front or pay weekly, but the preferred method of payment was signing over their life insurance policy to the Archers.
No red flags.
Nothing at all.
So you sign the insurance policies over to the archers, and now this was one of the only retirement homes in the area, this wasn't a common thing yet, people didn't move across country as much and stuff, so your elderly members of the family really stayed with the family. So this was mostly people who either didn't have any family or for what ever reason, their family was very far away and they couldn't be taken care of, but because retirement homes were a new thing, there was no oversight, there were no laws, there was no regulation, as it was the Wild West, but really old people... And Amy had a reputation for being a church goer. She had this sort of sweet, pious grandma vibe. But there were some rumors of bad living conditions and neglect, and actually in 1909, they were sued by the family of a patient for poor care and had to pay them a large settlement, so there was you know, rumblings. Something was rotting. In the state of Windsor... So then Amy had a spate of, let's just say bad luck in 1910, James suddenly died of kidney inflammation or Nephritis, which could be caused by an infection or high blood pressure or... I don't know, Arsenic poisoning. So that was very devastating to Amy and her daughter. But Amy was able to carry on and keep running the home because fortuitously, two weeks before James's death, she took out a life insurance policy on him.
What a coincidence.
Really like a forward thing.
That's so Raven.
In 1913, she remarried a man named Michael Gilligan, so now she has all her three last names, he was a 56-year-old with four adult sons and... Nice. Above average, bank account.
He had the foundries.
But tragedy struck again, and three months after their wedding, Michael suddenly died of a bilious attack for severe gastritis.
Like really bad IBS. Yeah, like death by IBS. And again, fortuitously, Michael had just named Amy as his beneficiary in his will, so with that inheritance, she pushed through her grief and she kept running the home, but people started to notice that there were relatively high number of deaths of patients in the home, and you know, they were elderly and maybe could live on their own, but these patients were not like at death's door, like this wasn't a hospice.
It was a retirement home, they were able to yeah...
Yeah, yeah, they were still able to get around and they weren't...
So they had aquarobics. Bingo Night was fierce. One of these patients who had died was a man named Franklin Andrews, who was 60 years old, and Franklin was pretty healthy and robust, He did yard work, he did janitorial work for Amy around the building the facilities, and he did have some family, but they lived pretty far away. Franklin frequently sent letters to his family about how he was doing what was going on in the nursing home, and he did mention that there were a surprising number of deaths of residents in a letter he sent in early 1914, which I don't know how you casually mentioned that.
So it was like, By the way.
Like, hey cousin Jane, people are dropping like flies. Don't worry.
You know, another day in paradise.
One morning in May of 1914 though, he collapsed while painting a fence outside the home, and he died two days later of a stomach ulcer. So his sister, Nellie, came to claim the body and to take his belongings, but when she was cleaning out his room, she found some recent notes between Franklin and Amy where they talked about him giving her a large sum of money, which he did. Nellie’s spidey sense went off and she was like, something ain't right here. She went to the police with her suspicions, but they did not listen to her. If there's two things that I know from all of the crime and murder and cult shows I watch is that law enforcement agencies do not talk to each other and no one listens to women...
Oh yup. Or if they talk to each other. Just to ignore or bury something, right.
How many documentaries I watch that a woman goes to the cops and it's like, I literally saw him murder someone and they're like Nah... When if they just said, Oh, really? Then like show’s over.
Exactly. Yeah, exactly. That's the thing, there should not be a True Crime genre, because if the police did their job, always correctly know there'd be no eight-part series.
It would be a one part series.
And then it's just Anderson Cooper, and he's just saying this person was caught.
She didn't give up, she went to the local paper, The Hartford Current, and they picked up the story, they did their own investigation and they found that the death rate at Amy's home was way higher than any other comparable homes for the elderly in New England.
So the the person who actually figured out that it was arsenic, was somebody at the paper who was already interested in this story, and that was the guy that wrote the obituaries...
People forget the obituary writers, they got all of clues right there.
This guy was like, “Sister Amy's home again?” He noticed that there were so many deaths coming from Sister Amy's home and that they were all had a similar intestinal GI.
Weird gut stuff.
Ulcer situation, right. So he decided to go rogue and do some of his own sleuthing, and he found out that Amy was a frequent purchaser of arsenic. And then in fact, in one recent order, she had actually bought enough arsenic to kill a hundred people...
Oh woah. How did they sell that. How did they sell it that much?
Like a Costco.
Right? Like at Costco.
Where's the DEA on this? Are they tracking these purchases, they're tracking people who buy manure, but not this... So the newspaper printed their investigation under the headline, The Murder Factory of Windsor.
“DUN DUN DUUUUN”
And that got some attention. After the newspaper scooped them, the cops finally paid attention and decided to do their own investigation, they sent an undercover informant who posed as a wealthy widow and went to Amy's house, she actually enrolled as a patient, moved in and was reporting back to the police on what she saw.
Oh, that is juicy. Yeah.
I know, where's her story, and she finally confirmed that Amy kept her stash of arsenic in the kitchen pantry...
It's like Clue, it was Amy in the kitchen pantry with the arsenic.
So 1916, Amy is arrested for the murders of five people, including Franklin and her second husband, Michael never saw that coming. Amy claimed innocence and portrayed herself as just this regular church goer, she was a single mom, she was a widow, she was working hard to take care of these vulnerable people, and a lot of people didn't believe it because she was sort of had this pious vibe. she also claimed that the arsenic was to fight rat and bed bug infestations, which I feel like we've heard that somewhere before.
Yeah that rings a bell.
During the investigation, the police discovered that her second husband, Michael's Will, was actually a forgery in Amy's handwriting, and they had the victim's bodies exhumed, tested using the Marsh Test.
And all came up positive for arsenic. Sister Amy, not a sis.
She was a Party City Sister. She got that Nun outfit from party city and it was just causing chaos.
But it was the sexy Nun outfit, so it was really awkward, really awkward when she was making the rounds. So Amy was convicted of killing Franklin and sentenced to death for attorney appealed, got a new trial where Amy played guilty by reason of insanity, which the judge accepted, she was then se nt to a mental institution where she remained for the next 45 years of her life until her death in 1962, when she was 88 years old. After Amy's conviction, a more thorough investigation of the nursing home death was conducted, and they determined that between 1911 and 1916 over five years, Amy had poisoned at least 48 residents.
Oh my god.
Of her home for the elderly.
Oh my God. That s*** crazy
Isn't that crazy
Now that's someone who doesn't get a pass.
That's a No, no.
Yeah, that's a no, no, it's like you understand Marie a little bit, but Amy, what were these people doing to you, but it's giving you business...
Right. Also it's not a way to get loyalty from your customer base, Amy.
Truly, 'cause then also, how long did she want the gig to go, 'cause I feel like some were like, yeah, a lot of people are dying here, I don't know if I want to take my parent here or grandparent.
Alright, so we are in the 20th century. We made it guys.
We time jumped.
We made it guys.
We quantum leapt into the 20th century.
We quantum lept, and I feel this poison will strike a cord with any person who is as avid, a Netflix binger as me, and I feel like you guys are...
Oh yeah, this is definitely a treat for our fellow true crime sleuths.
For a yall out there. So of course, we're gonna be talking about the Rajneeshies.
Yes. Remind the people, the Rajneesh, were the group that the documentary series, Wild Wild Country is all about.
Yeah, so yeah, if you were as obsessed with that, this is strap in for a little recap and a little new info and just hope you're not eating your greens right now.
Put on your crimson red dashiki and let's get into.
Which is my colors are like I'm half ready. I was like, that's the one thing. Also with a cult, I'm like a second away, like if someone tries to sell me on it, I feel that easily fall into it.
Same here. I love a uniform. It's like one less thing for me to have to think about.
You know what I mean? And everyone just looks nice... Yeah, I'm like, Okay, this... Perfect. So just kind of a little bit of backstory about them, they followed Bagwan She Rajsneesh, who later re-branded himself as Osho, who was an Indian guru and mystic who kind of just preach sexual freedom and The followers are upper middle class Baby Boomers who were going on a spiritual journey in the 1970s, If you've got your parent a little drunk, they'll tell you all about the 70s and what it entailed, even if you weren't in a cult. It started in India in ‘74, over 30000 visitors and all the stuff. The government didn't totally love its vibe. Yeah, so 81 Indian Government Lowkey wanted 5 million in back taxes, but it's okay because randomly God at that moment, reached out to our boy and told him to relocate to America. Do some spiritual teachings there.
Divine intervention. So convenient.
Sues Ormand is God and shes like get you as** outta here. Avoid these charges. So this is how they wound up in Wasco County near in Oregon, They bought 64000 acres of land, and this is where they started as an elaborate commune or intentional community called the Rajneeshpuram. so the commune had 7000 people, which that's too much for a commune for me.
That's a lot.
I mean, there are some rural states that don't have that many people in it, I'm pretty sure Wyoming is at like 6500.
That's a lot of matching that you had to be intentionally connected to.
I know, I feel like 20 max is what you need.
Oh god, right at the small talk. I cannot even imagine. And also the... They ball out, they had an airstrip, they have public transportation, they had water and sewage systems or restaurants and its own zip code... Okay, brag. Actually hoes in different area codes, truly hoes in different area codes. Just all in this area.
All your hoes in one area code.
In one area code. So, Bagwan receded from public view and then the group was represented and led by his secretary Deputy Ma Anand Sheela. And the followers unshockingly, when they relocated this area, started clashing with everyone else in Oregon. I have never been to Oregon, but I just imagine this isn't like the free-wheeling vibe is not totally their bread and butter, especially 7000 people just popping up.
All dressed in red having loud orgies in the middle of the night for hours.
Really, they weren't down for just hippies getting it on all hours doing their thing. Which I say just you know get a sound machine, but you know, maybe I've lived in New York for too long.
Earplugs are cheap and plentiful. Why harsh the vibe?
Yeah, join in on the fun. Of course, trouble, and I mean trouble, the government not loving the vibe of a cult being over there, there was more legal battles going on.
Wild Wild Country, explaining legal/political battles
Speaker 1: 1,000 friends in Oregon have already filed to have the buildings in the rashnish param torn down.
Speaker 2: I would anticipate that Wasco county will go ahead and have the use of those buildings stopped and to have the buildings removed.
Speaker 3: In the chords, we took the position that farm land is for farm land. Ranch land is for ranching. They're not for cities. I said we will come in and seek action to require you to remove those buildings because they were never liked to begin.
Speaker 4: There are actions in the cards, which may in effect, cancel their city.
So how they responded to this. God, I guess, didn't jump in to say, That's what else. They decided to run for office and take over the government of a nearby Antelope Oregon, so they're getting involved in politics.
They were making the change, they were making the change they wanted to see in the world.
This is their fight song. That song still makes me just shed a sad tear of like.
A little bit emosh.
In November 1984 they did want to expand, like we were talking about their political power, they ran members as candidates and races for two out of the three county Circuit Court seats in Wasco County. Normal, you know seems normal. Until, this election day. A huge amount of people became violently ill with food poisoning. Oh, so they weren't even feathering themselves, they were just full on going.
Just full on.
Vom dot comming.
They just moved. Just moved into the vomitoriums. They live there now.
751 people on contracted salmonella. 45 were hospitalized. No deaths.
No deaths. Just a little food poison. The massive outbreak, Nadoi, caught national attention and CDC intervention, they quickly blamed it on the mishandling of food at local restaurants, the election continued as planned, and the Rashinishis lost despite the low voter turnout because everyone was s****ing bricks at a local hospital. So now we'll get into a tactic, which is not making me think 2024, I am not going to any salad bars.
Yeah, I’d probably stay way.
Put a pin in that 'cause... Because they first are balming the food handlers, a year-long investigation by the government found that the massive poisoning was intentional and executed by the Rashnishis. The people in the commune are educated and skilled shout out to their local education, and they set up a chemical lab where they actually grew their own salmonella bacteria that's lowkey cool. In a sense, you know what I mean?
I appreciate their self-sufficiency, and I support STEM. Like, I support STEM initiatives.
Yes, lets get women in STEM. I mean this is the theme of this episode.
They are bringing in the young girls as part of their STEM programs.
Like, women just wanted to code, but you wouldn't let them 'cause you said it was for guys, they had to get arsenic, that's on y'all, that's on America, that's on the country.
Again, again, people.
Members of the group then dressed in regular clothing, just kind of be in disguise and went to 10 different fast casual restaurants, sprinkled bacteria into the salad bars out of packets, they talked into their sleeves, and that's how the s*** went down. There was a massive voter suppression effort, so that they thought that they would win.
You know what, I bet any publicist or strategic campaign manager for any President, maybe thought something like this, they were like, Actually, we give... Or should we give the opposing side like Krispy Kreme coupons before, so they'll just get too sick before, what can we work out?
Are they going to try this in Georgia? Somebody call Stacey Abrams!
It's so crazy too... This was their plan B.
Their plan A... They tried this really went astray... They were busing in homeless people, when was all over the country. Yeah, the midnight train of Georgia, you had, you know, Oregon trail, you got everything, giving them free room and board in exchange for their vote, but that is at least it's like, I guess maybe like a fair trade, you're still moving them out of their environment.
Providing a service. Helping people in need.
But the local board of election refused to let them register to vote because government's gonna be government. Of course, after all of this, even though they are low-key political Mastermind, the US government eventually did crack down on the group charged them for fraud, financial crimes, firearm violations and even violent crimes, our main boy flag from the handy air strip that they built there. Blamed it all in Sheela, but was eventually tracked down and imprisoned 'cause you can't get away from anything. Sheela loved, was sentenced for 20 years, only served two, and now lives in Switzerland, so her and Tina Turner had the best idea moving to Switzerland and just saying goodbye, everybody. not comparing them, just comparing their geographic journey.
I know that Sheela is in some ways the villain of the story, but she is so fucking iconic…
Wild Wild Country, Sheela
Interviewer: 1,000 friends of Oregon say they want to see this place dismantled.
Sheela: Good, they can come. They are most welcome.
Interviewer: You think it will get to that point?
Sheela: If they are not aware of my determination, I think they are stupid, they are unintelligent.
And I love that she's like, Oh, all you Hicks don't like a brown woman telling you what's what and what's going to do... Tough titties.
That's the hard thing. Its one of those things were gonna be like, Okay, you did a bad... But like lowkey respect?
But also, I'm loving this whole look. Yes, but you know, Lia may have had a personal story, a personal interaction, relevant to this story. You wanna tell about that.
Yeah. Sure. Anna and I used to be Hollywood elites.
Hollywood elites. That's us.
And when wild wild country was out, of course, it was up for a bunch of awards and the Emmys always have those for your consideration screenings, you know, for people, so I went to a little Netflix event.
Just real cash.
Just real cash for Wild Wild country where they had you know, the creators there, and Mark Duplass was there doing a little bit of moderating, and live via satellite was a Ma Anand Sheela and it was freaking amazing.
Oh my god.
Beaming in from Switzerland.
Okay, thats iconic.
Beaming in from Switzerland. And, I was like, I know everybody there was also freaking out, but I was just, I was just amazed, I couldn't wait to hear her and what she had to say about this whole experience, and of course in true Matanan Sheela style, Mark Duplass asked her, “like, oh, what was it like kind of going back and re-watching your story in this documentary, in the series,” and she's like, “Oh, well, I just fast forward and through the parts that I already knew because I lived it, I didn't need to waste my time watching it again.” And we are like, oh my gosh.
Can't be bothered.
Way to break a filmmaker's heart.
It was great knowing... I think she was like, I know my own story.
She's like your artistic vision and retelling is irrelevant to me.
I'm sure that was humbling to the Dubois brothers, 'cause she was like, You all think you're weird, just wait till I get on the zoom.
But also at that FYC screening, there were real rashnish people there.
At first I thought, Okay, you know it's LA, right? So it's like fans dressed up.
They were going to the Handmaid's Tale room dressed all in red and they got lost.
Exactly. I'm like, No, they were real and they were there for her to see her. It was amazing.
So they're still then like probably a small and mighty group of them.
Yeah. They are still around, they still look to the Bagwan’s, osho's teachings, Mahnanas teachings to guide their lifestyles and their principles and values, so.
I just feel like if you use as a blueprint for your life, the words of a felon cosplaying as Jafar, Like You maybe want to look at your choices.
Reeval... Course correct.
I had a friend who, when he first moved to LA when he was like 17, and he got whatever apartment, it was like a living room... Right, some apartment to sleep on, and he showed up and the people were very strange, very strange hippies. And he remembered he would go into the laundry room and just all their clothes were red... There were just whole laundry baskets filled with red clothes, and he was like, This is really weird, and then one night they were like, we are having a few friends over and he’s like... Sure, whatever.
And they had a full on church orgy, orgy church, I don't know what they call it. Their whole religious process is just crazy f******.
On their knees for a different reason.
He's like a 17-year-old on the couch going, umm, guys.
I feel like there's never been a more of a moment where you call and go, “mom you were right, I shouldn't have moved to the city.” That is next level.
Oh my God.
I know isn't that crazy. Yeah, but you know in all this honestly, I blame salad.
Salad is always trying to kill ya. Think about all the times there's like, a lettuce recall. I mean, that happens a lot. E Coli.
E Coli. Oh my gosh, you guys, seriously, salad bars are filthy. And I know this for a fact, and I'll tell you why. A few years ago, one of my parents had to go through cancer treatment, they're fine now, but they had to go through cancer treatment and during chemo and everything, they destroy your immune system. So you have to be really, really careful that you don't get any kind of infection or exposed to any kind of bacteria, and so the number one thing that they told us was no salad bars.
Are you kidding.
No salad bars, no buffets. Because they are filthy!
That is just so... 'cause I feel like... I don't know if anyone listening, I would always cling to a salad bar to be like healthy. Or that whole foods where I would just like quote un quote graze, basically steal food while eating just like... But I probably jokes on me 'cause I just poisoned myself.
You know what? Pre-packaged. Just go with the pre-packaged. There are no filthy people sneezing, touching those spoons, those tongs, Just pre-packaged everyone.
That is probably one thing that post-covid should just never come back, a salad bar. Just no.
Absolutely handshakes, salad bars. Middle seats.
Those should just totally just stay away.
Alright, so those are our poisonings.
I love them.
This was so much fun, Danny. Thank you for joining us for this.
Yes this was awesome.
Thank you so much for having me. I loved this. This was so much fun.
It was so great to hear your commentary on the perspectives. Awesome.
Thank you for joining us for this episode of Every Day is a Food Day. Special thanks to Danny Murphy from Not Another True Crime Podcast.
The Clips you heard today were from Wild Wild Country from Netflix, Bridesmaids from Universal Pictures, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves from Walt Disney Pictures, The Princess Bride from 20th Century Fox (?), Arsenic and Old Lace from Warner Brothers, Freaky Eaters from TLC, and The Best Ever Food Review Show hosted by Sonny Side.
The Music you heard today was: Toxic by Britney Spears, Poison by Bell Biv Devoe, Female of the Species by Space, Cell Block Tango from the musical Chicago, Poison Ivy by The Coasters
Please subscribe, rate and review the show! Check out the links in our show notes and connect with us on social media @FoodDayPod.
Every Day is a Food Day is a production of Van Valin LLC & Yumday. It was created by Lia Ballentine & Anna Van Valin. Our marketing intern is Elaine Oh, out production intern is Emma Massey And our audio engineer is Jenny Snyder.
Bye, keep an eye on your food.
We’ll see you next time!