Ever wanted to know what you tasted like? According to German cannibal Armin Meiwes, who ate someone who asked to be killed and eaten, human flesh tastes kind of like pork, but, “a little bit more bitter, stronger. It tastes quite good.”
Since the dawn of civilization, human beings have eaten one an other either out of necessity or because of insanity. Here are a few of the more interesting examples of cannibalism in recent times.
The Andes Flight Disaster
You might know about the cannibalism that ensued from the crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 from the film Alive, but if you’re not familiar, let us fill you in. On Friday the 13th in October of 1972, the plane carrying 45 Uruguayan Rugby team members and associates en route from Montevideo to Santiago, Chile, crashed on the side of the Andes Mountains.
The pilots, not taking into account strong headwinds, thought they were further along in their route than they actually were, started their descent too soon. After clipping a few mountain peaks and causing severe damage, the plane eventually landed in a snow bank. Here is the exact position of the crash.
Of the 45 people on board, 18 died within the first week or so of their injuries. The remaining players and associates were trapped on a freezing cold mountain, many still suffering from injuries, with few supplies and clothes not warm enough. While rescuers searched for the crash from almost the beginning, unluckily for the players their plane was white stuck on a white snowy mountainside.
They only had a few bars of chocolate, small snacks, and several bottles of wine. Soon they began feasting on the frozen bodies of their comrads to survive. This went on for two months until until a few of the stronger survivors hiked their emaciated bodies out of the mountains to find help for the others. 16 of the 45 survived, thanks to the flesh of their fallen comrades.
Nikolai Dzhumagaliev was one crazy ass serial killing cannibal. First, before we start, it should be noted that Nicky was known as “Metal Fang” because he has metal, fake, teeth. The better to chew you with, my dear. Besides the crazy teeth, he was apparently charming, handsome, and well spoken. He began his murderous spree in Kazakhstan with a mission of ultimately ridding the world of prostitutes, whom he found the scum of the world.
Metal Fang Nick would rape and kill the prostitutes with an ax, then SERVE THEIR FLESH to friends at dinner parties. Sound like Hannibal Lecter to you? One friend found a prostitute’s head in his kitchen and called the cops. Some speculate he has committed over a hundred murders, but was charged with 7. He was found batshit crazy and sentenced to a mental institution.
Good and bad news for the Russians. Well, mostly just bad news. Nicky escaped from the institution in 1989, but was captured in 1991. However, he was released from the funny farm and no one knows where is now!
The Boyd, a prison ship, headed to New Zealand from Australia with a shipload of convicts and passengers in 1809. Australia and New Zealand were settled by criminals and undesirables back in the day. A son of Maori (the native people of New Zealand with bad ass facial tattoos) chief asked for passage on the boat in exchange for labor. Whether he refused to work or was insulted and then refused is not certain, but the captain of the vessel whipped him for insubordination. Not a good idea.
When they got to New Zealand, the son showed everyone his marks and the Maori plotted revenge. Three days later, they attacked the ship, first luring away the captain and the officers and then killing most of passengers with clubs and axes. They then killed the returning crew. They ate many of their victims, and the event is well known in New Zealand history.
Like the Andes crash survivors, the Donner Party ate each other to survive. The Donner Party were a group of settlers that headed west from Independence, Missouri in May of 1846. Like other families, they packed up their families in wagons and hit the trails, looking to start a new life in California.
The party consisted of 33 people at first, the Donner family acting at the leaders, and soon had other families joined bringing the number up to 87 people with 23 wagons.. At first, the trip went as planned. However, in late August they decided to take a shortcut rather than taking the usual route. This “shortcut” actually threw the party 3 weeks off schedule. Not good.
A snowstorm in October blocked their passage when they finally reached the Sierra Nevada mountain range. They were stuck in what is now infamously known as Donner Pass. Running low on supplies, they killed their oxen for food, but it didn’t last or long. A small group set out for an outpost 100 miles away, with some of the party resorting to cannibalism, and the group made it and word got out and relief efforts were galvanized.
Relief did not come all at once: it took 4 separate trips to get the Donner Party to safety. The first rescue group arrived in February of 1847, 14 of the party were dead, and the rescuers brought out 21 of the starving homesteaders, with a second relief group to arrive a week later. By this point it is pretty certain the group had resorted to cannibalism. This second group took 17 with them, leaving 14 behind for the third rescue attempt. The third group found only 9 alive, and the fourth only one. Like the Andes survivors over a century later, the survivors ate the dead to survive. 42 died and 47 survived of the original party.
Issei Sagawa “only” killed and cannibalized one person, a Dutch woman who was a classmate when he was attending college at the Sorbonne in France. He lured her to his place under the pretense of making her dinner, where he killed her, had sex with her body, and ate her.
Sagawa, a tiny man of only 5 ft tall, had low self esteem and felt he was ugly and a weakling. He chose Renee Hartevelt because she was smokin’ hot, and he wanted to “absorb her energy.” In interviews he describes his surprise at the corn color of human fat. He describes the meat as “odorless” and “soft” and like tuna fish. He ate her body for a couple of days and then was caught trying to dump her body in a lake by the police.
He was ruled mentally insane by the French legal system and ordered to be held in an institution indefinitely. Shockingly, after he was later extradited to Japan, doctors found that he was not insane, just evil. The Japanese government could not hold him, and he left the hospital in 1986. He has been free ever since.
You think the story ends there? Japan is known for some bizarre aspects of its pop culture, and Issei Sagawa became a celebrity in Japan. He worked as a guest speaker and commentator, as a restaurant reviewer. He gave interviews to talk shows, starred in pornographic movies, and wrote four books. A book of his which chronicled the killing of Hartevelt sold 200,000 copies. Only in Japan can a cannibal murderer become an acclaimed celebrity.
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