The Starvening, Part 1

Have you ever felt your body wasting away? Most of us know what it’s like when we forget to eat for too long, often described as the physical sensation of the stomach “eating itself.” But, what occurs in the body and mind when it’s true over a prolonged period? What more horrible stories from history can still be told about winter cannibalism? Join your Horrific History Podcast co-hosts, Eric Slyter and Jordan Watney, for the debut episode of Season 2 as they explore the gruesome effects of starvation and the events which would lead up to cannibalism in Jamestown!


Discover what scientists learned about prolonged semi-starvation through a World War II study called the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. How has research on populations with anorexia nervosa given us added insight into the effects of the three phases of starvation? What decisions and events would lead the people of Jamestown to eventually engage in the very cannibalistic acts which they (erroneously) feared the native population would inflict upon them?


Self-mutilation, medical research on conscientious objectors and colonists who could not follow directions, this episode has it all! Whether you have ever considered starvation or cannibalizing your acquaintances, you’ll find something to enjoy! So sit down with a big hearty meal while you enjoy our latest Horrific History episode through one of your favorite podcast services (iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and more), and join us again in two weeks for Part 2 of The Starvening, when we’ll gnaw on the bones of two winter cannibalism stories from history.


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Some of our favorite resources from this week’s episode:


Horrific History Podcast


Commercial break music by Dead but Dreaming.

It seems like the advice, “If ever you are invited to dinner with a cannibal, first ensure you are not on the menu,” would be foregone conclusion; in fact, unless you are particularly adventurous in your culinary tastes, you might be wise to also simply claim to be a vegetarian. However, social and dining etiquette isn’t exactly what we have for your squeamish fix today. Instead we want to share with you something we found in the NPR archives; we discovered a really great interview of author Carole Travis-Henikoff about her book Dinner with a Cannibal: The Complete History of Mankind’s Oldest Taboo. You can find it linked here.


If you liked our Have a Friend for Lunch: Winter Cannibalism or Mementos of You: Human Trophies episodes we think you’ll love this!


Now, if fiction is more to your tastes, you might find Dinner With the Cannibal Sisters more to your liking.


Until next week, no squeam allowed!

Slideshow photo credit: Another Pint Please… Strip Steak on Weber Summit via photopin (license)

Episode of a Thousand Downloads: Sawney Bean

What kinds of milestones come to mind when you think of 1000? Do you think of scientific achievements, sports statistics or something else? For Horrific History, it isn’t surprising that when we recently exceeded our 1000th download milestone we thought of murder, cannibalism, incest and the folk tale of Sawney Bean. As a special thank you to our loyal listeners who have made this all possible we’re releasing a special edition bonus episode with a slightly different format as co-hosts Curtis Bender and Eric Slyter examine this old legend and its origins.


A multi-generational incest family, murder, cannibalism, executions, amputations and […]

Mementos of You

Plaster cast of mokomokai (Indigenous to New Zealand); a photo of an actual head will not be shared on Horrific History out of the desire to be sensitive to the Maori.

After your death, what do you think your survivors (friendly or foe) might keep to remember you? Perhaps a photo or some inanimate object which carried a lot of meaning to you both? Or do you think they might want something more personal, like a lock of hair or your ashes? It’s a nice thought, isn’t it? But what if they wanted to keep your rotting skin, your head or even just your re-purposed skull or bones? Eric Slyter and Curtis Bender hunt for the gruesome details on various kinds of human trophies in history beginning with the Scythians, Norse Vikings, and Aztec festivities honoring Xipe Totec (Our Lord the Flayed One) before ending with Maori mokomokai.


Skull cups, garments made of rotting skin and […]

Have a Friend for Lunch

Who would you eat first, family member or friend? Would it make a difference if you had to kill the person who would be your next meal or if they were already dead?

Horrific History Podcast’s co-hosts, Eric Slyter and Curtis Bender discuss winter cannibalism in history, specifically the Donner Party and the Colorado Cannibal, Alferd Packer. Grave scavenging and murders, prison breaks and lynching […]