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The Incredible Food Pyramid of Michel Lotito

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You don’t get the nickname Monsieur Mangetout (“Mr. Eat Everything”) without earning it. Over the course of 40 years, Frenchman Michel Lotito ate an estimated 9 tons of metal.


In his youth, Lotito suffered from pica, a mental disorder in which people compulsively eat non-food items such as dirt and plastic. (Lotito’s condition was first diagnosed around age 9, when he started munching on parts of the family TV set.) But once he started experimenting with more dangerous items like nails and glass, he learned that the incredibly thick lining of his stomach and intestines allowed him to consume almost anything. Soon, Lotito turned his affliction into a career.

By breaking up metal into small pieces and chugging mineral oil to lubricate his throat, he perfected his technique. For years, the Frenchman ate 2 lbs. of metal each day. In 2007, Lotito died of natural causes unrelated to his eating habits. But before he passed away, he made sure he could eat a coffin.

A few of the incredible non-foods that Lotito consumed during his life:

2 Beds
7 Television Sets
6 Chandeliers
18 Bicycles
15 Shopping Carts
1 Cessna 150 Airplane (Lotito’s most famous meal: Eating the plane took him two years, from 1978 to 1980.)

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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