If you haven't eaten lunch by now, you might want to do that right now, because you're certainly not going to want much to eat or drink after reading these thorougly unappetizing and cautionary tales from Forbidden Knowledge. Hey, don't say we didn't warn you:
Henry I: Henry I wasn't exactly given the throne. As the third son of William the Conqueror, Henry became king only after one of his older brothers died and he'd beaten the other out of the throne. He had quite a run of it, though, reigning for a good 35 years -- that is, until he was toppled by one-too-many lampreys. If you're not familiar, a lamprey is a nasty-looking beast of a fish with a round mouth that can reach three feet in length. And it's as mean as it looks. Lampreys will attach themselves to other fish, rasp a hole in them, eat their flesh, then detach, leaving an often fatal wound. They are, however, reputed to be great eating (fit for a king, in fact), especially if you like meaty fish with a high fat content, which Henry clearly did. Sometime before Christmas, England's king sat down to a heaping platter of the fatty fish, ate a few too many, and breathed his last.
Two more food fiends after the jump.
Honore de Balzac: "Coffee is a great power in my life," this French writer said in his essay "The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee." "I have observed its effects on an epic scale." The thing is, he wasn't kidding. Balzac consumed as many as 50 cups of strong Turkish coffee a day, and we're talking about the days before indoor plumbing! And he was no slouch at eating, either. At one meal old Balzac was reported to have eaten 100 oysters, 12 mutton cutlets, a duck, two partridges, and some fish, along with desserts, fruits, and wine. But coffee was clearly his passion, and he was faithful to the end. When Balzac couldn't get it strong enough, the addict was known to down pulverized coffee beans for the jolt he needed. This produced two results: Balzac was an incredibly energetic and prolific writer, writing more than 100 novels. He also died of caffeine poisoning at the age of 51.
Zachary Taylor: Perhaps the most apolitical president in U.S. history, Zachary Taylor was an army veteran of four decades and a hero of the Mexican War, but he never voted or held office before being elected president in 1848. Even more amazingly, the cheapskate refused to accept mail with postage due, so he didn't even know he'd been nominated for the office until weeks after the fact! About 16 months after taking the oath of office, during which time he accomplished very little, old Zach attended a Fourth of July celebration at the Washington Monument on a sweltering day, and stood around in the heat for hours wearing dark heavy clothing. To cool off, he wolfed down a bowl of iced cherries and polished 'em off with a pitched of milk. Not the best idea. Turns out the milk and/or ice was tainted, and Taylor died five days later of typhoid fever or cholera.