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Edible dynamite

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Sep. 5th, 2015 | 12:47 pm

A highly amusing quote from some ponyfic I was reading recently, cleverpun's The Elements of Excess:

And then, it occurred to her.

Edible dynamite.

You can probably guess who "she" is there, right? :P Anyhow, truth is of course stranger than fiction, and the Annals of Improbable Research blog last year dug up an actual case, from 1904:

4. Poisoning With Explosive Gelatin.—Kavalieroff reports the following interesting case: The wife of a miner who was employed in blasting with explosive gelatin, found a cartridge containing this substance in her husband's trunk and ate it, taking the cartridge for a piece of confectionary. She was taken with headache, vertigo and pain in the abdomen. Her husband was afraid that she might explode on the way to the hospital, as her abdomen had become swollen. She was admitted in a state of unconsciousness. Gradually she became partly conscious, and complained of severe pain in the [...]
Image: via improbable.com

OK, so it's not quite dynamite, but rather blasting gelatin, a mixture of gun cotton, nitroglycerine and a few other choice ingredients. The case was reported in a Russian-language medical journal, Русский врач; six weeks later the New York Medical Journal reported that the miner's wife had not, in fact, exploded:

In view of the fact that explosive gelatin [...] gives off a quantity of nitrous acid vapors while decomposing, the stomach was washed with a solution of sodium bicarbonate, and a number of bubbles of gas escaped. A dose of castor oil was poured into the stomach tube, the patient was given a subcutaneous injection of caffeine, sodium benzoate, and ergotine, and coffee internally. The patient had a copious evacuation and quickly recovered.

The symptoms, therefore, were those of poisoning with nitroglycerin, amyl nitrite, etc. The dose of nitroglycerin taken by this patient was two ounces, or six thousand times the therapeutic dose.

So all's well that ends well — but you really have to wonder. Who in their right mind confuses blasting gelatin with candy, and to the point of eating and swallowing an entire cartridge at that? Perhaps the whole episode says something about the quality of early-20th century Russian candy if gun cotton and nitroglycerine compare favorably to it. Or perhaps the Russians were just that good at making sweet-tasting explosives. Cherry bombs, anyone? :P

Also, if you do ingest delicious dynamite, make sure to not light your farts, or you might give a whole new meaning to explosive diarrhea!

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