Sunday, May 10, 2009

Luminous Pork Chop Comes to Light: So Does Cause

Unlike today's Ypsilantians worried about swine flu, local citizens of the past had a different pig-related concern.

They read this story, emanating from nearby Jackson, in the Tuesday, September 26, 1950 Ypsilanti Daily Press.

It is transcribed here as a cautionary tale.

Science, as well as the neighbors, is keenly interested in Russell Mitchell's glowing pork chop.

Mitchell stumbled on the phenomenon of the refrigerator last week. It actually is a pork chop that glows in the dark.

The Jackson Citizen-Patriot explained that the luminous chop "came to light" in an unusual circumstance when Russell opened the refrigerator at his home in a darkened kitchen. The bulb inside the box was burned out. There in the dark, however, was the pork chop, casting its rich and brilliant glow.

Russell couldn't believe it. He phoned his mother, Mrs. Ida Mitchell, who operates the Jackson County Building telephone switchboard. Together they examined the pork chop. When they removed it from the wax paper wrapping they had luminous marks on their hands. Then they were convinced their eyes weren't deceiving them.

Fearing that the meat might be contaminated
[ya think? -ed.] and worried lest there might be ill effects from three others they had eaten that were bought at the same time, Mrs. Mitchell called in the city health department. Sanitarian Dale Brooks hadn't ever seen anything like it. But he was intensely interested in a laboratory explanation of the phenomenon.

Federal meat inspectors in Detroit had never heard of anything like it. Neither had the chief veterinarian of the Chicago Board of health.

The Citizen-Patriot asked Dr. J. H. Ahronheim, Foote Hospital pathologist, to examine the meat.

Dr. Ahronheim said today a microscopic examination convinced him that the glow emanated from tiny organisms which produced a phosphorescence due to decay.

The pork chop, Dr. Ahronheim said, was heavy with bacteria of a type not harmful if consumed.

Mrs. Mitchell and Russell breathed a sigh of relief.


Dusty Diary notes the legion of experts summoned to shed light on this tiny cutlet, while it shed light on them:

1. Jackson city health department sanitarian Dale Brooks
2. Federal meat inspectors in Detroit
3. The Chicago board of health chief veterinarian
4. Jackson's Foote Hospital pathologist J. H. Ahronheim

In short, medical men from three cities, in two states, were consulted on this question. Note also that the eminent Dr. J. H. Ahronheim apparently took several full days to subject the meat bit to extensive tests--the original discovery of the chop, this Tuesday-published story says, was "last week." The newspaper must have waited with bated breath for the resolution of the story, and indeed published it the same day the Doctor released his findings.

Note that the Doctor has informed thousands of newspaper readers that a luminous pork chop is no cause for concern. Fire up the frying pan! Nom nom!

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