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Mystery History
HFH looks for common threads in human history to explain
just about anything that needs an explanation.

The Cream Puff — Harbinger of Misfortune?

myshistory1_creampuff_0305.jpg (28875 bytes)

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

FACT: 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.

FACT: Renderings of mysterious cream-puff shaped symbols mark the End Times on all Mayan calendars.

Some archeologists have interpreted the strange, cream-puff shaped petroglyphs
that appear on the Mayan calendar as signaling the End Times where "the world
 will grow fat, dumb and happy, only to drown in a sea of sweet, yellow goo."

IT 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 asking: Is 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?

WE WONDER: Did the easily sated Neanderthal succumb to our over-achiever Cro-Magnon 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 unearthed along 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 -- evolutionary
drop-outs may have grown fat and complacent, leaving themselves defenseless
against usurpation by buffed, tanned and much prettier Cro-Magnon.

AND 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 anthropologists 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?  

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."

CREAM 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 Austro-Hungarian
puppet-ruler of Mexico, held up a cream puff to show his defiance
when he was executed by Mexican Juarista freedom fighters in 1867.

FACT: 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 diary:  "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." 

FACT: In the Crimean War in 1854, England’s famous Light Brigade had munched on CPs daily 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 infamous day.

A 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.  

FACT:  The 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.  

COULD IT BE?: Was this devious dessert, cake of the powerful and the pitiful present at every misfortune and defeat in human history?

FACT: 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 CPs.

WHITE 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 victorious game 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 always 
ate his dinner exactly at 7:35 p.m., topping it off with a steaming hot cup of coffee and
 "a sweet kiss from my Carinthian mistress" as he always called his daily cream puff dessert.

THE 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 of cheesecake."

FACT:   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 world.  

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.

CREAM-FILLED 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. These 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. 

FACT: 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.

SOMETHING 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.


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