Example: [Keel, 1957]
Origins: Although it may sometimes seem to us that we live in a world where anything goes and there is no practice that is not accepted by some significant portion of society, we still have a few taboos that are nearly absolute. Cannibalism is one of those taboos, and since urban legends often focus on those who are seen to have crossed socially forbidden boundaries, the urban folklore canon includes several well-known legends featuring people eating other people.
Most urban cannibalism legends — such as one involving a cremated relative's ashes or a dead worker found in a factory vat — deal with accidental occurrences, however, cases in which bodies were consumed because they were mistaken for, or stored in, something normally considered a type of food. While "real" cannibalism may be horrifying, tales of the accidental variety have a vicarious impact on the audience because they convey the shocking message that "this could happen to
The example quoted above, from the 1957 book Jadoo ("The Astounding Story of One Man's Search Into the Mysteries of Black Magic in the Orient"), bears a strong resemblance to a more familiar legend about imbibers drinking from a barrel of alcohol which also contains a corpse. Both tales play on the concept of "accidental" cannibals' unwittingly ingesting a foodstuff that had been used as a preservative for human remains.
Although the 1957 telling sets the Egyptian version as something that happened "not too long ago," the same account appeared in a book published in 1893, which in turn cited Abd
Last updated: 30 July 2004
Keel, John. Jadoo: The Astounding Story of One Man's Search Into the Mysteries of Black Magic in the Orient. New York: Julian Messner, Inc., 1957.     Morgan, Hal and Kerry Tucker.   More Rumor!     New York: Penguin Books, 1987.   ISBN 0-14-009720-1   (pp. 184-185). Wallis-Budge, E.A. The Mummy: Chapters on Egyptian Funereal Archaeology. Cambridge: University Press, 1893.