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"I found a dead bug in my water, and the restaurant manager wasn't very helpful."

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DEAR A.J.,
I went to my local diner, and they served me a glass of ice water—with a dead mosquito in it. I asked the manager what he planned to do about it. He said he’d give me a “free glass of water.” What should I have done?

—PAUL IN SACRAMENTO

That's gross. Hit that diner with a strongly worded Yelp review!

But listen: You should also be thankful that buggy water is a rare occurrence in modern dining. In the past, your average meal was so disgusting and unhygienic that just reading about it would make you reach for a bottle of Doc Fletcher’s Genuine Pink Bismuth Nostrum With Extra Opium.

At least your meal was worm-free. Egyptian mummies’ stomachs have been found to contain a delicious blend of tapeworms, liver flukes, whipworms, guinea worms, and roundworms, according to Morton Satin’s book Death in the Pot. For centuries, things didn’t get better. British diarist Samuel Pepys recorded this 1662 meal: “My stomach was turned when my sturgeon came to table, upon which I saw very many little worms creeping.”

Even the cosmetically clean food wasn’t safe. Poisonous (but sweet-tasting) lead found its way into all sorts of treats, as a kind of precursor to high fructose corn syrup. In 19th-century England, red peppers were painted with shiny red lead to make them more appetizing. British country inns ground their salad greens with a giant ball of lead, giving diners an unhealthy dose of metal shavings, according to Swindled, a survey of bad food by Bee Wilson.

Baked goods were no better. Reformers accused bakers in 17th-century England of diluting their breads with ash and bones (hence the threats by the salivating giant in Jack and the Beanstalk to make his bread with “the blood of an Englishman”). These rumors were mostly unfounded, but bakers did dilute bread with the bleaching agent alum, which has since turned out to be toxic in large quantities. Where’d they get the alum? From the urine that paupers sold to manufacturers, writes Wilson in Swindled.

Impurities aside, humans have also voluntarily shoved a baffling variety of creatures into their mouths over the years. The first known cookbook—dating to fourth-century Rome—contained recipes for flamingo tongues and calfbrain pudding. And most alarming of all, 21st-century Americans ate something called the Ballpark hot dog, which contained … well, I can’t even bring myself to type it.

Have a problem for A.J.? Send your woes to letters@mentalfloss.com.

This story originally appeared in mental_floss magazine. Subscribe to our print edition here, and our iPad edition here.

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ATM Fees Reach a New Record High
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You have good reason to flinch every time you withdraw cash from an out-of-network ATM. The cash machine operator and the bank each hit you with a separate fee for these withdrawals, and both types set record highs this year, according to a new Bankrate survey.

In Phoenix and Atlanta, grabbing cash from an out-of-network ATM will set you back more than $5. But even the cheapest metro area isn’t actually much less expensive: In San Francisco, the average fees are now $3.90. “The national average is $4.57, which means stopping at an out-of-network ATM for $20 will cost nearly 23 percent in fees,” says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate's senior vice president and chief financial analyst.

To skirt the fees, stay in network. Virtually any bank will let you withdraw money from its own ATMs, of course. But if you want easy, low-cost access to more cash machines, ask your bank if they participate in a larger ATM network. Some do, to provide their customers with more widespread access.

While ATM fees climbed higher in 2016, one type of bank fee actually broke its 17-year streak of increases: overdraft fees. The average is now $33.07 (yikes!), but that's 0.1 percent below last year’s average. It’s probably too soon to celebrate the downward trend, says McBride. Overdraft fee increases still outnumbered decreases by 5 to 1 in the national survey.

McBride’s best advice for avoiding the hefty penalty? “Sign up for email and text alerts that let you know when your balance is getting low, so you can proactively move money into the account,” he says. “And keep tabs on your available account balance through online and mobile banking—particularly before initiating transactions.”

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Which State Has the Most Millennials Still Living at Home?
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Escaping your parents’ home doesn’t seem to have quite the same urgency it once did. According to Time, recent Census data indicates that a substantial number of Millennials—typically considered to be those 18 to 34 years of age—are choosing to remain in their childhood residences, with one state in particular crowding out the rest.

The winner? New Jersey, which has just under 47 percent of that demographic living at home. Eastern state neighbors New York and Connecticut each have roughly 40 percent choosing to stay in the nest, a significant spike from the national average of around 33 percent. That’s up from 23 percent in 2000. (The state with the lowest percentage of Millennials rooming with their 'rents? North Dakota, with just 14.1 percent.)

It can be difficult to extrapolate why some states have more clingy kids than others. The price of real estate might be one explanation (rent is much more expensive in New Jersey and New York than it is out West); the trend of Millennials getting married later in life might be another. Without the need for their own mortgage, utility bills, and consumer spending, it’s possible that the homebodies may even be contributing to an economic downturn.

Then again, who can resist free laundry? “There’s the comfort of someone to help you out at all times,” college student Irsia Khan told USAToday.com in June 2016. “Having your meals ready and your laundry done for you takes the load off on the rest of the things you go through in college.”

[h/t Time]

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