Hey dad, take a bite out of THESE meteorites

Meteorite chocolates by L’eclat. Top row from left: Pyroxene, Orgueil, Tatahouine and Allende. Bottom: Henbury, Yamato 86032, Canyon Diablo and Allende. Credit: L’eclat

Looking for that perfect Father’s Day gift for your astro dad? Consider edible chocolate meteorites. The L’eclat chocolatier of the Righa Royal Hotel Japan has created a collection inspired by and named after seven famous meteorites – Orgueil, Tatahouine, Pallasovka, Henbury, Canyon Diablo, Allende, the Antarctic lunar rock Yamato 86032 – and the mineral pyroxene, one of the first to be identified space rocks.

First, a disclaimer. I don’t work for the company and wasn’t hired to push these chocolaty meteorite look-a-likes. I just like the idea of edible space rocks and can’t help but admire their artful design and tasty-sounding ingredients. Canyon Diablo, the iron meteorite from Arizona’s famous Meteor Crater, contains chocolate, raspberry and salt caramel and even looks rusty on the outside, while the mineral-themed pyroxene boasts white chocolate, grapefruit and earl grey, flavors nearly as exotic as real meteorite ingredients.

Set of eight chocolate planets. Can you guess which is which? Credit: L’eclat

If edible rocks don’t satisfy your palette, you can also try their set of eight chocolate planets. Having eight shows the creator paid attention to recent developments in astronomical nomenclature. If you buy the set, they’ll throw in the sun – a concoction of criollo chocolate and pineapple – free.

Now that you’re hungry, you might wonder if anyone has ever eaten REAL meteorites. To this we must answer YES. There are at least two recorded instances of folks chowing down on rocks from heaven. The first happened on September 4, 1886 in the village of Novo-Urei in Mordovia, Russia.

A small slice of the Novo-Urei meteorite. Talk about tough on the teeth — Novo-Urei was the first meteorite in which diamonds were discovered. It and meteorites in its class are notorious for destroying cutting blades when scientists attempt to slice them. Cube at left is 10mm (just under 1/2″). Photo courtesy of Dr. Martin Horejsi

A total of 3 stones weighing 2058 grams were recovered from Mordovia, though since that time two have been lost. Only 1.9 kg remains in collections today. One of the lost specimens was, reportedly, eaten by the villagers who found it.

P.I. Baryshnikov, a teacher in Kirensk City, reported at the time that the sky lit up and explosions like cannon fire were heard. One of the stones landed not far from a group of peasants working their fields. One of them mustered the courage to walk over to where he thought “the thunderbolt had fallen” and found only a shallow hole in the middle of which lay a black stone lay half-buried in the dirt.

The cist containing the Pueblo meteorite now called the Winona meteorite after Winona, Arizona located 5 miles southwest of Elden Pueblo. When it was opened the meteorite broke into many pieces.

Maybe the villagers thought they were partaking of the power of the gods by ingesting a rock that came from “heaven”. Then again it may have been simple curiosity that led them to this flawed dental experiment.

The ancient Egyptians considered meteorites gifts from the gods; beads and at least one knife blade have been found fashioned from the iron variety.

In 1928 archaeologists digging at Elden Pueblo in Arizona discovered an egg-shaped, 50-pound meteorite carefully wrapped in a shroud and placed in a stone cist or tomb. Was it considered a sacred object?

Mbale boy holds the meteorite that fell through banana trees and struck him on the head.

The other documented meteorite-eating episode involved a clear case of magical thinking. On August 14, 1992 a shower of stones rained down in and around the city of Mbale, Uganda. Several buildings were struck and one boy was harmlessly hit on the head by a small 3-gram meteorite after it bounced off a canopy of banana leaves – one of only two verified instances of a person getting struck by a meteorite.

The other happened on November 30, 1954 in Sylacauga, Alabama when Ann Hodges was struck in the hip by a meteorite that crashed through her roof and bounced off the floor. She suffered a nasty bruise.

At the time, with the AIDS virus rampant in Mbale, some residents ground the meteorites into a fine powder, mixed it with liquid to form a paste and either drank the concoction or applied the paste to their skin believing it was a God-sent cure for AIDS. While this sounds crazy, it speaks to the citizens’ utter desperation.

Several stones from the 426 picked up after the Mbale, Uganda meteorite fell in 1992. A total of 330-pounds (150 kg) of meteorites were found. Photo courtesy of Dr. Martin Horejsi

More informally, I’ve known a few meteorite collectors who’ve sampled crumbs of the moon or Mars just for the sake of doing it but also for the physical connection it gives them to other worlds. Me, I’ve never tried. With sensitive teeth, even the thought of accidentally biting into a errant olive pit makes me wince.

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