The Strange and Abnormal: Cloudy with a chance of meatballs

Ava Ferrigno, Features Editor

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March 3, 1876 started out like any other Friday for the Crouch family. Mrs. Crouch was outside with the farm’s dog and was making soap from scratch, while her husband Allen Crouch was tending to other duties inside their farmhouse. The process of soap-making, already a grueling operation, was worsened for Mrs.Crouch when it began to rain. Fresh meat.

For a brief lot of time, all that could be heard was the gooey squish of fat smacking into the ground.  As she watched the chunks of flesh fall around her in horror, the dog gleefully gobbled up as much of the mystery meat as possible. After the storm finished, the nearby neighbors that happened to venture outdoors were also made very aware of “The Kentucky Meat Shower.”

There were two questions circulating about the nation after the meat storm: was it really meat that fell from the sky? and what could have caused such an occurrence?.

Those residing in Kentucky took it upon themselves to answer the first.Two stupid brave men thought it would be a great idea to taste the rotting mystery substance that had fallen from the clouds hours earlier, proposing that it must have been “mutton or venison” (New York Times). With a bit more confidence, hunter and neighbor Benjamin Ellington insisted that the flesh was “bear meat,” going to the lengths of swearing on his name to prove it (Journal of the Bizarre).

Unfortunately for Ellington, the president of the Newark Scientific Association Dr. A. Mead Edwards tested preserved samples from the event and confirmed that the meat was “likely the lung tissue of a human infant or a horse” (Scientific American). Other histologists agreed and the samples were further examined, showing that varying pieces contained lung tissue whereas other had muscular tissue or animal cartilage.

While the shower was beginning to gain national attention and the public was hollering about aliens, a cannibalistic massacre gone haywire, or the possibility of the whole thing being a hoax, it was up to the scientists to try to explain the phenomenon and keep the peace. Dr. L. Kastenbine provided the most widely accepted explanation.

Buzzards.

These birds rank highly on the list of “Mother Nature’s Grossest Creations.” Vultures projectile vomit quite often. Feeling threatened? Vomit. Feeling a bit chubby today? Vomit. Seeing a fellow feathered friend disgorge? Vomit.

You may be thinking: too much information; is that grotesque imagery really necessary? And to that I answer: the ‘fun fact’ exposed through the imagery is relevant, but I guess I could have been a bit less…detailed (sorry not sorry).

Thus, Katenbine proposed that a flock of these foul beasts (a very common sight to see in the wooded area) was flying over the Crouch farm and for whatever reason collectively upchucked their previous meal, which got caught in the wind, turning into meat snowflakes. So does that mean that a bunch of buzzards ate human babies? Probably not. The reason scientists lumped the infant issue with the horse tissue during the identifying process is because they are very similar in structure.

But who’s to say for sure? Perhaps the “The Kentucky Meat Shower” is much more sinister than we originally thought.