The human race is, arguably, at the top of the food chain. We’ve mastered tools, populated every continent, built civilisations. And yet, when we look at certain moments in history, it’s a wonder we’re still around.
The Butter Crisis
In Normay, late 2011 as Christmas is approaching, and the excitement is bubbling, what could go wrong? Apparently, everything. Following a 30% increase demand on butter in November, stocks were lower than expected. At one point, 250grams of butter cost around $50. Despite that, whenever a rare delivery would make its way to a market, the stocks emptied in mere minutes.
Students started auctioning the product on the internet to pay for parties. Norwegians would drive to Sweden to buy butter. In Denmark, a charity collected butter to redistribute it in Norway. A newspaper even offered half a kilo of butter for every new subscription.
Dancing fever in France
The French are known for enjoying themselves and having a good time. Eating, drinking, going out until dawn, that’s all natural occurrences there. However, sometimes, things go a bit too far. In 1518, Frau Troffea started dancing in the streets of Strasbourg. And she wouldn’t stop. After a week, 34 others had joined her, and a month later, they were over 400 dancers. The dancing was so intense that some died of heart attacks, others of aneurysms or even exhaustion. In other words, they danced themselves to death.
The local authorities, thinking hot-bloodedness was the cause, pushed the dancers to go even harder, hired musicians to keep them going 24/7, and simply picked up the bodies once exhaustion kicked in. It is still unclear what caused such a plague, but one thing is sure: it’s a whole new level of extra.
Cobra abundance in India
India, still part of the British Empire at the time, had a small cobra problem. To get the situation under control, the British government put a bounty on the snakes’ heads. It seemed like a good idea, but all ideas seem good on paper.
The sum offered for one cobra was higher than the cost of breeding cobras. Naturally, people started breeding dozens of snakes in their basements before turning them in for the prize. When the government realised what was happening, they scrapped the program, and the citizens set the remaining snakes loose on the street.
India ended up having a big cobra problem. Congrats and well done, humans.
Curiosity killed the cat (and satisfaction did not bring it back)
Approximately 21 centuries ago, in a land far, far away (Rome), Julius Caesar, then a young politician, was in the middle of an argument on the Senate floor when he was brought a note. Cato, mad for being interrupted, demanded to read the note. After some more arguing (#fun), Caesar handed him the piece of paper. What was on it? An apparently explicit love letter from Cato’s half-sister.
It is speculated dear Caesar did this on purpose to infuriate Cato. Such a little shit stirrer – no wonder he was stabbed 62 times.
Vibrators, a cure for Hysteria
In the Victorian era, whenever a woman wasn’t peppy or happy, she would be diagnosed with what was then called ‘female hysteria’. The cure was quite simple: a physician would give her a pelvic massage, until she reached hysterical paroxysm. One young English doctor’s hand started cramping up after helping these women all day, every day. Tired of this manual labor, he invented a machine that would do the hard work for him: the vibrator. It soon became the most bought appliance item in record time.