HFH looks for common threads
in human history to explain
just about anything that needs an explanation.
The Cream Puff —
Harbinger of Misfortune?
What is it about this mouth-watering delight that has
appeared in desserts throughout human history and pre-history,
and is part of almost every culture with a sweet tooth?
Is it just a coincidence that these flaky, cream-filled treats have
been the catalyst for some of history's greatest political upheavals,
military defeats and, perhaps even the collapse of many
of the world's great civilizations?
Historical Cream Puffs: A Clear and Flaky Danger
Bones of Neanderthal, the dead-end hominid line, have been found alongside traces of powdered sugar and yellow-cream filling residue.
Ancient Egyptian nobility considered the fragile, easily crushed cakes bad
luck and shunned them as a lowly food fit only for
slaves and livestock.
Throughout history, most spiritual cults and all the major religions have
spurned this puffy dessert’s tasty temptation. And all
associate these sweets with lazy complacency leading to misfortune, decadence,
doom and, eventually, acid reflux.
FACT: The 5,000-year-old "iceman"
corpse found in Europe in 1991, who apparently
died an untimely death, had
the remains of a cream puff in his stomach.
Renderings of mysterious cream-puff shaped symbols mark the End
Times on all Mayan calendars.
Some archeologists have interpreted the strange, cream-puff
that appear on the Mayan calendar as signaling the End Times where "the
will grow fat, dumb and happy, only to drown in a sea of sweet, yellow goo."
ALL STARTS TO ADD UP:
Many anthropologists now believe cream puffs (CPs) have been with humanity
longer than mosquitoes, dust and lying politicians. Now many experts are
this sweet delight the hidden thread that connects seemingly unrelated events in some sort
of deterministic history? Could it even be some sort of externally controlled guide to
human destiny? Or is this recurring and puffy treat's juxtaposition alongside human
misfortune, anger and despair just a delectable confectionary coincidence?
WONDER: Did the easily sated Neanderthal succumb to our over-achiever
ancestors because of chronic obesity? Was it their
laid-back "savor life" approach to survival that made them
vulnerable to humorless onslaughts by fast-track proto-humans who, eager
to get on with developing an agrarian society, dry cleaning and an eventual Moon landing, didn't have
time to lay around in dank and messy caves savoring these toothsome treats?
Fossilized pastries have been
with Neanderthal bones suggesting
the Paleolithic slackers may have gorged themselves on proto-cream puffs.
Anthropologists speculate the unwary --
or just plain dumb as dirt --
drop-outs may have grown fat and complacent, leaving themselves defenseless
against usurpation by buffed, tanned and much prettier Cro-Magnon.
THE BIG QUESTION: If Neanderthal succumbed to the siren call of yellow
cream filling in a light and flaky crust, then when and where did these
ambition-retarding, flavorsome cakes
of capitulation originate? It's a mystery say most
but maybe not. Is
it a coincidence these slacker Neanderthal hominids inhabited a region that would
eventually become modern-day France –
the land of loitering and pastry maker of the world?
FACT: Before SatireWire's abrupt cessation in Sept. 2002, its
founder, Andrew Marlatt, received daily deliveries of cream puffs sent by the
editor of a competing satire site. Some Internet historians say he
inexplicably pulled the plug on his short-lived site, which was quickly
growing into a serious competitor ofThe Onion, because of a
"growing lassitude, chronic indolence and shortened attention span not
unlike that associated with the advanced stage of cream-puff addiction."
PUFFS AND HISTORY's
SAD LEGACY OF MILITARY DEFEAT AND HUMILIATION: CPs were regularly served to
soldiers on the losing sides before some of history's most important military
engagements, including the epic battles at Kursk, Gallipoli, Thermopylae,
Waterloo and Gettysburg. History tells
of pudgy Spartan warriors who, having lost their legendary fighting edge, were
crushed by invading Persians in 480 B.C., and of
Napoleon's Grand Armee hobbled by debilitating indigestion on the eve of the
Waterloo battle on June 18, 1815 after their supply line of French military-issue napoleons was
cut and they were forced to eat CPs for dessert before going into battle.
Emperor Fernando Maximilian, Napoleon III’s
puppet-ruler of Mexico, held up a cream puff to show his defiance
when he was
executed by Mexican Juarista freedom fighters in 1867.
At Gettysburg in July 1863 , Pickett's troops were witnessed stuffing their faces with CPs
only minutes before their ill-fated charge. A Union officer wrote in his
"When they assaulted our position, they gave forth with
their characteristic rebel yell, but it seemed as borne through the heavy
summer air more
as a pitiful groan reported from unholy bestial mouths where the devil's own sweet
cakes must reside."
In the Crimean War in 1854, England’s famous Light Brigade had munched on
before their fateful assault on the Russians. Perhaps the horses, bogged
down by their riders' increasing girth, could not carry them fast enough
through the cannon volleys. It is said the field was splattered with blood, guts and yellow cream that
FLAKY REVOLUTION?: Many historians believe France's haughty
Bourbon queen, Marie Antoinette, set off
the French Revolution in 1789 by disdainfully suggesting to the peasantry "...let them eat
eclairs," when she was told they no longer had cream puffs to eat for
dessert with their cafe au lait.
sybaritic French regina didn't tell them she was the reason France -- the dessert capital of the world
-- was suffering a CP shortage. Though she chose politically correct eclairs in public, in her naughtier private moments she
noshed hard and heavy with her consort on their vulgar, but sensual
confectionary cousin --
cream puffs. And lots of them. In fact the French Court's secret midnight gorging/purging
orgies eventually depleted the national stockpile causing the peasantry to go
without dessert. Historians consider this a major catalyst for their desperate
uprising that destroyed the monarchy.
IT BE?: Was this devious dessert, cake of the powerful and the pitiful
present at every misfortune and defeat in human history?
Albania's ill-fated King Zog and Mary, Queen of Scots, who was decapitated by her
cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, both suffered from
chronic lower-bowel blockage most likely caused by a fancy for flaky desserts.
Though both eventually died of other causes, it is an easy
jump to assume that both did not die natural deaths and both were regular indulgers of
HOUSE GORGERS: The rotund William Howard Taft, along with
three other one-term U.S. presidents: William Henry Harrison, who allegedly died a month after his inauguration
after catching a cold, but actually may have choked on a CP; Franklin Pierce, who managed to be
president without anyone noticing and the scandal-ridden Warren Harding,
whose speeches were once characterized as “an army of pompous phrases moving across a landscape of
in search of an idea,” all
belonged to a secret society – The Odd Fellows of Puffery. This shadowy
group’s rituals and agenda have never been exposed, and all attempts to do so
have been abruptly halted by investigators’ untimely and sickly sweet
demise. Only one thing is sure: None of these unremarkable chief executives
were assassinated and all insisted on a constant supply of CPs – all with
yellow-cream filling – when they resided in the White House. Enough said.
FACT: The Boston Red Sox celebrated their 1910 World
Series victory with cream puffs and have eaten them to celebrate every
ever since. They
have yet to win another world championship.
The Croatian-born American scientist Nikola Tesla was better
known for his grandiose
failures than for his significant scientific accomplishments. An eccentric, he
ate his dinner exactly at 7:35 p.m., topping it off with a steaming hot cup of
"a sweet kiss from my Carinthian mistress" as he always
called his daily cream puff dessert.
POWER OF PASTRY: New research by science historians has revealed the
famed inventor Nikola Tesla led a secret Army project in 1929 to
harness the sugar energy stored in yellow cream by compressing cream puffs
under 150,000 p.s.i. until their filling was converted to high-voltage static
electricity that could be transmitted by huge sparks shot between coils
perched on thousands of 1.900-foot towers stretching across the nation's vast
expanse. Though his prototype was successful, he canceled the project when his
calculations showed that to fuel his dynamo, the power grid would require 100 percent of America's annual
cream-puff production. A great fancier of CPs, Tesla said
defiantly, "I would prefer to savor my favorite dessert in the dark than
see a cold light cast upon a hot cup of coffee presiding over a pathetic piece
Inventors of "cold fusion," Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, now run an
Internet mail-order business that ships pastries, including cream puffs,
anywhere in the world. To protect the delicate cakes, they are immersed in
heavy water and an electric current is run through them. The patented
"cold-fuse" process hardens them against damage and spoilage. The
"enriched" pastries are then vacuum sealed in special jars for shipment anywhere in the
Kim Jong IL's fondness
for bourgeois amenities not available to his
people, such as tall Swedish women, elevator shoes, the Internet
and scrumptious cream puffs, is legend.
DIPLOMACY: CIA analysts who monitor the girths of world leaders have
analyzed satellite photos and intelligence reports that indicate a dramatic
increase in North Korean strongman Kim Jong IL's "corpulence quotient" suggestive of CP addiction.
data could be important in the development of an effective embargo should it
become necessary if nuclear non-proliferation talks with the U.S. break down. Unlike its
strides in nuclear weapons technology, North Korea has not been successful in
developing its own industrial cream-puff filling capability and completely
dependent on imports from France.
Former Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda were callous to their
nation's poverty. Imelda, known for her ostentatious
lifestyle and infamous shoe collection squandered millions in public
funds. Ferdinand snuffed out his
enemies and rewarded his corrupt associates while downing voluminous amounts of cream puffs. Now, deposed by a peaceful revolution, he's dead and she's not.
TO THINK ABOUT: The next time
you eat a cream puff, remember you are taking a bite out of history. Keep
watching this page for future installments of Mystery History.