16 Food Horror Stories That Will Haunt You Eternally

Maybe read this *after* lunch?

Ines Vuckovic/Dose

What is a food scar, you ask? It’s a food memory so terribly traumatic that even thinking about said food will make you nauseous. Maybe you got food poisoning, or overdosed, or perhaps the food reminds you of a difficult time. Members of the food forum, Chowhound, weighed in on the experiences that ruined foods forever.

1. Egg Salad & the Seating Assignment

When I was in third grade, the student in front of me ate an egg salad sandwich for lunch every day. The sandwich never agreed with his stomach and he would spend the entire afternoon passing gas, right in my face. It was so distressing that finally my parents had to step in and speak to the teacher. By a rough calculation, I am sure I easily inhaled over a thousand of his eggy expulsions. — Vorpal

2. Lard & Corporal Punishment

Being raised in a Kosher family, [my mother] had never seen lard in her life, and received her first introduction to it in Home Ec. She spoke up, saying it was the grossest thing she’d ever seen or heard of, and her teacher responded by SLAPPING HER IN THE FACE WITH A HANDFUL OF LARD. — mamachef

3. Crackers & the Over-Effective Diet

My mum … [ate] RyKrisp breads as a diet aid, and she ate a couple pieces for lunch one hot summer day in Florida. She reached for another one and looked closer and saw that all the little black rye dots were moving. I haven’t been able to eat them myself, in sympathy. — khh1138

4. Tomato Soup & School Rules

In elementary school I was lucky enough to have a classmate vomit tomato soup on me. The school allowed me to change into sweatpants, but made me keep my vomit-splattered sweater and blouse on. — Viperlush

5. Fried Wontons & the Office Snack

I was sitting at my desk having lunch of Hot and Sour Soup and noodles, mindlessly taking noodles out of the bag while looking at something on the computer. Near the end of the bag I looked in — to see a half a roach. Didn’t ever find the other half, don’t want to think about it even now. — Bigley9

6. Cabbage & the Inflation Issue

I was a strange child. LOVED fruits and veggies (still do!). One day when I was about seven, I was in the supermarket with my mother and grandmother, and saw a cabbage. It was sweet, but not candy-sweet. More like a fresh, green sweetness. Tasty stuff! I tried another leaf, and another, and another, and soon I had polished off THE WHOLE HEAD OF CABBAGE. The next day, I had such a case of gas pains that I literally thought I was going to die. — sparkina

7. Liver & the Unfortunate Prep

When I was a young kid, I was very thin and anemic. My doctor told my parents that liver would be good for me. Rather than pan-frying it with some onions, my mother thought boiling it would be more healthy. Imagine eating a piece of gray colored, mealy, iron-tasting “meat” when you’re 7 years old. 40 years later and the thought of it still makes me gag. — emptybello

8. Twinkies & the Cream Substitute

As a kid I bought some Hostess chocolate cupcakes in our local convenience store. They were cream filled. I bit into the first one and it tasted kind of dry. My bite had opened it up and I looked closer. The white cream center looked a bit strange. Then I saw things crawling around it. Then I realized it wasn’t even cream filling anymore; it was some cocoon-like spiderweb filled with crawling baby spiders! —MattHooper

9. Ice Cream & the Bottom-of-the-Cone Bonus

I was a kid vacationing with the folks on the Atlantic City boardwalk. My mom was eating an ice cream cone. Not the conical cone, but the squarish type with a flat bottom. The inside bottom of these cones have a square honeycomb in them, I assume for strength. Anyways, she’s worked down, eating towards the bottom, when the honeycomb area becomes exposed. Lo and behold, a cockroach was hiding in one of those honeycombs. We were all sufficiently repulsed. — porker

10. Eel & (Another Person’s) Vomit

I was at a sushi restaurant 7 years ago having some Eel Nigiri. As I was trying to chew, I heard a baby make a weird sound behind me. I turned to see what was going on … the baby had thrown up [on] my back. I rushed to the bathroom to clean it off; all the while the eel [was] still in my mouth. I spit it out and clean[ed] my clothes while the leftover taste and … smell lingered in my senses. — dontcallmethefword

11. Oatmeal & the Canary in the Canister

I once opened a store brand of oatmeal, and just as I peeled the paper liner under the plastic lid, I saw something flutter past me. It was a hot summer day and I had all my windows open, so I had no idea if a bug had flown into the kitchen right then. Or maybe it was a couple of pieces of oatmeal that flipped out of the box when I ripped off the liner. Either way, I put the lid aside and put the box back on top of the fridge. I forgot about the oatmeal for a few weeks before getting the box and taking the lid off to make myself a bowl. Dipped my measuring cup in and brought up a half cup of oatmeal that was absolutely teeming with bugs. I screamed, dropped the measuring cup into the box, slammed the lid back on and threw the whole box away in the dumpster outside my apartment at once, measuring cup and all. — jasfoodie

12. Liver Again … Because, Liver

When I was a kid, someone made me a chicken livers sundae. They told me it was coffee ice cream and put whipped cream and chocolate syrup on it. I took a huge spoonful, and the truly gruesome combination of flavors turned me off to all forms of liver, liverwurst, etc. for the rest of my life. If I smell liverwurst I will automatically gag at the thought of that spoonful of horror from 35 years ago. —jrvedivici

13. Mussels & “That Time of the Year”

A few months ago I ordered steamed mussels and the first mussel I tasted had the absolute worst taste — like the smell of manure — that ran through my mouth and nose. It was as if I was smacked in the face with a cow patty pie! I learned later that this happens when the mussels spawn. And when one spawns it triggers others to follow suit. — lynnlato

14. Grape Nuts & the Crawling Clump

Was eating some long ago when I realized some bits were moving. It had these Grape-Nut-sized bugs that I swear had evolved to blend in perfectly with Grape Nuts. —nugget

15. Chicken & the Surgery Observation

I once had the opportunity to observe surgery. The cutting through skin, fat and muscle, the smell of the cauterizing, the heat from the surgical mask … all of them combined [just] about made me pass out. I could not cut up raw chicken or eat chicken for about a year after that. — AmyH

16. Bread Pudding & the … nvm it’s too unspeakable

I used to LOVE it and always reserved one at my favorite lunch place. One day, I was having trouble getting a spoonful out of the bowl and it was because a mouse was baked in. That’s been 20 years ago and I still gag at the thought! — bubblyone

Stir up any memories for you? What’s your food scar?

Responses have been edited for clarity.

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