Culture Quiz: Cannibalism History, Real and Imagined

How well do you know your cannibalism history, real and imagined? Test yourself with our handy quiz.

Photo: Silence of the Lambs

From Miami to Montreal to Maryland, gruesome tales of cannibalism seem to be everywhere in the news the last couple of weeks. But it's not the first time the public has found an appetite (sorry!) for sensational accounts of people eating people. How well do you know your cannibalism history, real and imagined? Test yourself with our handy quiz.

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1.  What's the ultimate fate of Robinson Crusoe's man Friday, the Carib he rescues from cannibals and converts to Christianity?

A. He becomes a vicar in Scotland and dies in his sleep.

B. He goes on a mission to proselytize island natives and disappears.

C. He marries an Englishwoman, has 13 children, and dies of a stroke while visiting Crusoe's grave.

D. He's killed by cannibals on the same island Crusoe was stranded on when the pair return in the sequel.

2.  True or false: Sweeney Todd was a real person.



3.  What did Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter enjoy "with fava beans and a nice Chianti"?

A. An IRS agent's spleen

B. A census taker's liver

C. An FBI agent's brain

D. A patient's kidney

4.  What country can claim TV presenters Dennis Storm and Valerio Zeno—who caused public outrage in late 2011 when they broadcast footage of themselves allegedly eating dishes prepared from each others' buttocks and stomachs?

A. The Netherlands

B. Italy

C. The United Kingdom

D. Romania

5.  In 1993, future South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone starred in a low-budget comedy movie called Cannibal! The Musical based on the man-eating story of:

A. Milwaukee serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer

B. Those pioneers-gone-feral, the Donner Party

C. Alleged 19th-century cannibal Alfred Packer

D. The rugby-team survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571

6.  Who wrote a play turned movie about a pedophile who is torn apart and devoured by boys he preyed upon?

A. Rob Zombie

B. Roger Corman

C. Dario Argento

D. Tennessee Williams

7.  What future Oscar winner plays the wife in the graphic 1989 cannibalistic revenge flick The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover?

A. Tilda Swinton

B. Helen Mirren

C. Kim Basinger

D. Judi Dench

8.  Name the movie this quote comes from: "Everything in this room is eatable. Even I'm eatable, but that is called cannibalism, my dear children, and is in fact frowned upon in most societies."

A. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

B. American Psycho

C. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

D. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

9.  Where does the Soylent Corporation claim its new food product comes from in 1973's Soylent Green?

A. Plankton

B. Reprocessed human and animal waste

C. A vague and entirely synthetic chemical compound

D. People! Soylent Green is people!

10.  What was reportedly the euphemism used for human flesh prepared for eating in the Marquesas Islands?

A. "Manna"

B. "Meat that moans"

C. "Long pig"

D. "Gift of the ancestors"

NOTE: Scroll down for answers and explanations.

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  1. (D) In The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (yes, Daniel Defoe wrote a sequel), Crusoe and Friday (who it should be noted was originally a cannibal himself) return to their island and fend off attacks from cannibals yet again. Friday is killed by native arrows while trying to negotiate.

  2. False. Though various iterations of the Sweeney Todd tale have been billed as based on a real story nearly from the beginning, he made his first appearance in a fictional Victorian penny-dreadful in the mid-19th century, likely inspired by urban legends about "mystery meat." No researcher has been able to find credible evidence there was ever a real "demon barber of Fleet Street" who turned victims into meat pies.

  3. (B) Anthony Hopkins famously ad-libbed the line that became one of the most celebrated in the classic movie The Silence of the Lambs.

  4. (A) Though critics pointed out the pair have a history of putting on hoaxes, they insisted the stunt was a real instance of (mutually voluntary) cannibalism.

  5. (C) The comedy duo's movie was no doubt inspired in no small part by their time at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where Packer is a cult figure whose name briefly adorned the cafeteria grill.

  6. (D) Suddenly, Last Summer's 1959 film version featured Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, and Montgomery Clift, with a screenplay by Gore Vidal. Williams, however, later distanced himself from the movie over Taylor's casting.

  7. (B) The future queen in The Queen bared all and fed her lover to the thief with the cook's assistance in the controversial movie directed by Peter Greenaway.

  8. (D) The line came from Johnny Depp as the candy-coated weirdo Willy Wonka in the Tim Burton remake.

  9. (A) But of course it's really people. Soylent Green is people!

  10. (C) There is, not surprisingly, controversy over the accuracy of historical reports of the Polynesian culture's practice of cannibalism.

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—Michael Y. Park is a writer living in New York City and a regular contributor to

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