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Human-Flavored Rum
Status: Probably an urban legend mistaken as news
This could be the next big thing: Soylent Green Human-Flavored Rum. Reuters reports:
Hungarian builders who drank their way to the bottom of a huge barrel of rum while renovating a house got a nasty surprise when a pickled corpse tumbled out of the empty barrel, a police magazine website reported... the body of the man had been shipped back from Jamaica 20 years ago by his wife in the barrel of rum in order to avoid the cost and paperwork of an official return. According to the website, workers said the rum in the 300-liter barrel had a "special taste" so they even decanted a few bottles of the liquor to take home.
You could prepare a dinner starting with human-flavored tofu, seasoned with some human-hair soy sauce (and a little bit of bread made from human hair as a sidedish), and then wash it all down with this human-flavored rum. Yum! (Thanks to Big Gary for the link.)

Update: As Joe points out in the comments, this story sounds an awful lot like the tapping the admiral legend, which involves Admiral Nelson's body being preserved in a cask of rum while at sea, and the cask slowly being drained by sailors on the voyage home. World Wide Words points out that: "Jan Harald Brunvand, the American academic who has made a lifelong study of such legends, has told versions in one of his books, including a related one dating back six hundred years about some tomb robbers in Egypt. Other tales tell of containers holding similarly preserved bodies of monkeys or apes that spring a leak on their way from Africa to museums; the leaking spirits are consumed with a gusto that turns to horror when the truth of the situation emerges." So given the relatively flaky source on the Reuters story (a Hungarian website), it's probable that whoever runs the Hungarian website got taken in by an urban legend, and then Reuters in turn was taken in by it.
Categories: DeathFoodUrban Legends
Posted by The Curator on Thu May 04, 2006
Sounds like the "tapping the Admiral" legend.
Posted by Joe  on  Thu May 04, 2006  at  01:08 PM
A well, if you marinate a good piece of meat (not pork or chicken ofcourse) in whisky the meat gets better and I hate to waste and can only say the whisky is better too.
Posted by Unfairly Balanced  in  Earth  on  Thu May 04, 2006  at  01:58 PM
Yeah, what was I thinking. This sounds WAY too much like the 'tapping the admiral' story. It has to be an urban legend. I'm changing the status on it.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu May 04, 2006  at  03:38 PM
Cool! I made mention in an update!

I was also wondering whether rum is even transported in big barrels anywhere these days. I'd think that it'd be bottled at the distillery, packed in cases and shipped to distributers.
Posted by Joe  on  Thu May 04, 2006  at  11:53 PM
Oddly enough, I was just introduced to this site yesterday and today on the BBC website, I read the following article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4976754.stm. It's featured on the frontpage of the website no less.
Posted by David  in  Iowa  on  Fri May 05, 2006  at  09:08 AM
They drank a whole barrel of rum? I think not. I heard the story on radio or TV and they reported that they found the body when they emptied the barrel - it didn't say anything about them drinking it.
Posted by Doug  on  Fri May 05, 2006  at  12:59 PM
well, 20 years ago, Hungary was behind the iron curtain. 1) Hungarian woman married to Jamaican? 2) Go back to Hungary? 3) And smuggle barrel of rum with dead body throug the iron curtain?
Posted by Asmo Koste  in  Helsinki, Finland  on  Fri May 05, 2006  at  03:33 PM
The Reuters story doesn't say the man was Jamaican; just that he died in Jamaica. He was presumably a Hungarian who died while on a visit to Jamaica, and whose wife wanted to bury him in Hungary. And, although Hungary was indeed "behind the Iron Curtain" in 1986, things were loosening up by then, and Hungarians had more freedom to travel than citizens of some other "Communist Bloc" countries, so it's not too implausible that a Hungarian couple would have been in Jamaica.

However, I still think the whole anecdote is probably a classic urban legend. I thought so when I first read it. It's just too similar to many popular folk tales (some of them ancient, as Jan Harald Brunvand pointed out) to take it at face value without some pretty hard evidence.

Besides, import-export laws being as they are, it's pretty hard to believe the duty on a barrel of rum would really be less than the cost of shipping a dead body.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Happy, Texas, USA  on  Fri May 05, 2006  at  06:41 PM
First of all, if there were any "distinctive taste" to it, if would be horrid. One of the compounds that the human body breaks down into is cadaverine, which is naturally produced in small quantities by living beings and is one of the odors that mixes to form the smell of semen. The other is putrescine, which can only be compared to rotten cabbage.

Unless the builders' taste buds were dead to both the pang of amino rot and the acidity, i'm going to go ahead and agree that this is BS.
Posted by Egret Narcosa  on  Sat May 06, 2006  at  04:13 PM
It has to be an urban legend. People were never shipped home in kegs of rum. Ever. Rum doesn't have the needed properties to preserve a body. They used sherry ... no seriously, it was sherry. Admiral Nelson was shipped home in a keg of sherry ... yaeh, I sound like a total history geek ...
Posted by Tika-choo  in  Ottawa, Canada  on  Sat May 06, 2006  at  11:04 PM
Maybe an urban legend, but a very nice creeping story grin
Posted by Ulf  in  Germany  on  Sun May 07, 2006  at  03:31 AM
Dear All,

some remarks to your remarks. First of all I think it is really an urban legend. The disturbing fact that the article was published in the journal of the Hungarian police. They promised to provide more details later. Chief cops told already that there is no such file.
To Doug: yes a Hungarian construction worker is able to drink a whole barrel of rum even alone grin)
To Asmo Koste: 1) No, her husband was a diplomat regarding to the original story. 2) Went back when her husband died carrying him in that famous barrel of rum. 3) The iron curtain could not be a problem for a diplomat wife.
What is more interesting that nobody asked the wife about her husband and nobody was looking for a disappeared diplomat.
Posted by Gy  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  02:32 AM
The spokesman of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that at that time there was only one Hungarian embassy in the Caribbean, in Cuba. At the time it was not so easy to disappear. He also told that it was more difficult to import 300 litres of rum to Hungary than a dead body.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already contacted to the police in order to clarify this stupid story.
Posted by Gy  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  03:12 AM
This was found to be a hoax, or a mistake or whatever. From "Regret the Error" website:
Reuters issued the following advisory May 9 in regard to a story published May 4 on MSNBC.com:
Posted by the Truth  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  01:02 PM
There was no such case in the city (Szeged, a south Hungarian city) said the retired police superintendant who led the local police from 1987 to 1999.
The disclaimer can be read in Hungarian at http://index.hu/politika/bulvar/rumos0512/
Posted by Gy  in  Hungary  on  Fri May 12, 2006  at  11:01 AM
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