No matter how healthy or otherwise your deskfast (breakfast at your desk), a colleague probably won’t challenge you to duel by sausage.
According to legend, a sausage was the breakfast of champions for the German pathologist and Liberal politician, Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902).
A particularly nasty argument over navy funding left Minister President Otto von Bismarck feeling humiliated by Virchow.
Bismarck challenged the doctor to a duel in 1865.
Virchow chose two sausages as his weapons: one safe, the other infected with Trichinella spiralis larvae.
(He was very familiar with Trichinella spiralis, having been the first man to identify it).
To quote Wikipedia on the effects of infection:
The first symptoms may appear between 12 hours and two days after ingestion of infected meat. The migration of worms in the intestinal epithelium can cause traumatic damage to the host tissue, and the waste products they excrete can provoke an immunological reaction. The resulting inflammation can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sweating and diarrhea. Five to seven days after the appearance of symptoms, facial edema and fever may occur. After 10 days, intense muscular pain, difficulty breathing, weakening of pulse and blood pressure, heart damage and various nervous disorders may occur, eventually leading to death due to heart failure, respiratory complications or kidney malfunction.
The two men would eat breakfast together, with dire consequences for whoever got the infected banger. Bismarck declined and the doctor claimed the victory.
It doesn’t matter at all that the tale is not entirely true.
Why? Because History is written by the wieners.
Happy Deskfast Day (April 12).
Siobhan is a freelance writer, research addict and lover of twisted history. If you like horrible but amazing history, check out her website www.interesly.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/interesly. Or you can reach her through www.siobhanoshea.com.