The (Philadelphia) North American, June 3, 1841. Great use of italics.
Poor? You want to know what poor is? When I was growing up, we were so poor my uncle had to kill himself with a broomstick down his throat. It took six weeks. So don’t come whining to me about poor.
Broom? You had a broom? We had to kill ourselves with bundles of live oak twigs.
Roxbury? Oh no! Which one of the New Kids on the Block died? Was it Joey? Steve? Flabby? Winko? Crontab?
Anyway, a certain German slave in a Roman gladiatorial arena can one-up that story, 2000 years earlier — see Seneca’s “Moral Epistles”, chapter 62:
“For example, there was lately in a training-school for the wild-beast gladiators a German, who was making ready for the morning exhibition; he withdrew in order to relieve himself, the only thing which he was allowed to do in secret and without the presence of a guard. While so engaged, he seized the stick of wood, tipped with a sponge, which was devoted to the vilest uses, and stuffed it, just as it was, down his throat; thus he blocked up his windpipe, and choked the breath from his body. That was truly to insult death! Yes, indeed; it was not a very elegant or becoming way to die; but was it more foolish than to be over-nice about dying?”
Here’s some further elucidation of the stick in question, written in a style small children will enjoy:
So, in conclusion, the other four New Kids on the Block should do it too.
!!?? Okay, let’s open our KJVs to John 19:29: “Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.” Does this mean that the Romans were tormenting our Lord by putting bumwad to his lips?
I think they were just doing the ancient equivalent of that party game where they blindfold you and put a bunch of sugar in your mouth followed by what may or may not be a lemon. They got the idea from that “Mr. Show” episode.
(circa 4:05 into it, and also, NSFW.)
Vinegar plus hyssop has since been renamed “Country Time”, after they switched to artificial hyssop.
Nowadays, the mean Roman Empire would torture people with Sour Patch Kids. Or worse, Circus Peanuts. Actually, the Circus Peanuts might be too cruel — it’d backfire because you don’t even feel the crucifixion when you’ve got the horrible taste of Circus Peanuts in your mouth.
In ancient times, they’d often give people a choice of being thrown to the lions or eating one of each type of drugstore candy, and usually people would beg for death even before they got to the Generic Clown Brand Circus Peanuts, let alone the Generic French Clown Brand French Burnt Peanuts.
His Satanic Majesty serves Circus Peanuts on toothpicks as hors-d’oeuvres in Hell.
I always knew there was something demonic about Lucky the Leprechaun — the prototype for Lucky Charms cereal was made from Cheerios and chopped Circus Peanuts. (Mentioned in Discover magazine, August 1999.)
By the way, if you like reading about weird old-timey candy, get the book “Candyfreak” by Steve Almond (no, really.) It’s like “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas” except he travels across the United States tripping out on an assortment of obscure regional candies, and visiting the factories that spawned them.
Does your Mr. Almond mention the Idaho Spud? Of course he didn’t eat one: no one ever has. I don’t even know what’s underneath the lumpy chocolate coating. But they collect in mounds in the corners of grocery stores across the state, furtively coupling with their cousins and devouring one another (in this the confections resemble the human residents of the fair Gem State).
I’m getting the book.
Oh, yes, the Spud’s in there. He even survived tasting a Spud in its unfinished state, before it became candy.
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