Humanity, for all its faults, is pretty amazing. We’ve learned a lot of really cool things in our time on this planet.
But how did we learn some of it?
Like… who thought it’d be a good idea to prepare a venomous or otherwise dangerous creature for consumption? Didn’t the thought of some rather deadly trial and error frighten them away?
The answer to that is “nope,” in case you’re wondering, and we are referring to fugu, a dish prepared from a pufferfish that can be lethal for human consumption and can also sting when its spines enter the skin.
Fugu’s tetrodotoxin can be so lethal, in fact, it must be carefully prepared to remove the toxic parts and to avoid contaminating the meat.
The Japanese and other countries have strictly regulated fugu’s preparation, just in case you’re feeling adventurous.
But how did that first person grab the stinging, spiky fish blown up like a balloon and discover how to eat it without dropping dead?
Well, we don’t have an answer for that.
And what about other curious things human beings discovered?
Redditor Justoneaccount1234 asked the online community:
“What fact makes you think ‘What the f**k were they doing to discover that?'”
“She wasn’t too disgusted.”
“My mum was diagnosed with glaucoma a while back. She had to use eye drops which she said were derived from bull semen. She wasn’t too disgusted.”
“She was a nurse, she was just endlessly baffled with HOW anyone ever came up with that idea.”
“Like, you’d have to know a fair bit about semen to even think of its uses beyond the obvious one.”
“How do these people describe themselves on LinkedIn?” ~ SuzyJTH
“You know, that shark that is usually poisonous unless you leave it to rot for months.” ~ ObscuraNox
“Chewing the nuts…”
“Coffee can be explained. Chewing the nuts gets you hyper, so someone distilled it.”
“Now black ivory coffee… that had to have been a prank, dare, or the most confusing chain of events for a bean farmer.”
“For those that don’t know, black ivory coffee is coffee made from beans passed through the digestive tract of elephants.”
“The enzymes in the elephant break down the protein in the bean, giving it a less bitter taste.” ~ chocki305
“I have an acquaintance…”
“I have an acquaintance who worked as a dog handler, showing purebred dogs in dog shows.”
“She swears that putting the tip of a wooden match into a dog’s anus is the preferred method for making the dog defecate before going into the show ring.”
“All I can think of is: Who was the drunk idiot that discovered that? How much alcohol was involved?”
“Why did they tell anybody what they’d done? (“Hey, you guys wanna see a trick? Here, Fido!”)” ~ NightmareGerbil
“Just to clarify…”
“I never understood why people started eating onions. I mean, I’m glad they did, but if I’m a caveman and try to eat a ‘food-like substance’ that if I break open makes me cry, I’m probably not ingesting it.”
“I mean, it doesn’t even want me to look at it and punished me for breaking it open. I don’t eat aggressive vegetables.”
“Just to clarify, I really love onions. I just wouldn’t have been the first one to try them.” ~ CanEyeBshy
“In the past two weeks…”
“Anything involving baking soda. In the past two weeks, I’ve used it to make banana bread and pretzels, as well as to disinfect a litter box and clean silver.” ~ _solarmax
“I mean, they figured out…”
“Toast. It had to be an accident, surely.”
“I mean, they figured out to grind the right grains, the right ratio of yeast and water and sugar, etc., and how to cook it to make beautiful beautiful bread.”
“I swear, it must have been an accident that someone was too close to a fire and because of, I dunno, poverty or ignorance, it got eaten and the nirvana that is toast was achieved.
“Who would ever think, ‘This bread is great, I’ll cook it again’?” ~ kiki73
“The ancient/medieval alchemists left a lot of records of the substances they studied.”
“They cataloged all the properties they observed for each one – including the taste. One presumes that for the data to be passed on, one had to record the taste test promptly.” ~ schleppenwolf
“The process to make it properly…”
“Chocolate. The process to make it properly is incredibly finicky and takes a long time from start to finish.”
“What’s more, it’s not like a lot of things mentioned here that were probably just the result of being desperately hungry.” ~ mechanate
“Maybe I don’t understand…”
“The complex chemical processes to make certain drugs.”
“Maybe I don’t understand chemistry well enough, but how would they have known the effect that certain drugs, like cocaine, would have on a person?”
“Or was it made for some other purpose and someone said, ‘Hey, this looks like a good thing to crush up so that I can snort it up through my nose.'”
“It just seems weird.” ~ goodietwoshoe
“For those who aren’t familiar…”
“For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a cheese made from sheep’s milk with live maggots in it.”
“It’s actually illegal under EU regulations but there is still black market production because apparently, people want to eat live maggots.” ~ adeon
“They were lucky…”
“When saccharine was first synthesized, the creators didn’t know it was going to be safe to consume.”
“And yet, against the most basic law of the chemistry lab (do not under any circumstances eat that thing you just created, everything can and WILL kill you), they decided that meh, a little bit couldn’t hurt.”
“They were lucky and it was sweet and safe, but seriously don’t eat the stuff you just made from tar – it literally didn’t exist an hour before.” ~ coelicolored
The funny thing about a lot of these responses, at least to me, is the number of people who rest on the assumption that starvation wasn’t a common way to die for many millennia.
You’d be surprised what human beings will eat—and certainly figure out is okay to eat—when they are hungry and there is no other option.
I suppose we should thank them for their discoveries.
Oh, and while we’re at it, be even more thankful we didn’t have to be the ones to do all of these experiments.