The cream puff is certainly one of my guilty pleasures. I don’t keep them in my house because I can’t stop with just one of those custard-filled morsels of heaven. So when I saw the headline, “Cream Puffs Poison Nearly One Hundred” I had to investigate if this 1906 mass poisoning in Buffalo was an isolated event or part of a larger creamy conspiracy.
Chicago Eagle 13 Aug. 1898
In 1891 at least fourteen people in Tennessee became ill after eating cream puffs that were thought to be poisoned with arsenic. Arsenic could seep into food products through metal containers.
The Evening Bulletin, Maysville, KY, 26 Dec. 1888
The Times Dispatch, VA 31 Mar. 1903
The humorous wording in this blurb about a Richmond politician’s inability to stomach his cream puffs suggests that this was a case of food poisoning rather than foul play.
Western News-Democrat, Valentine, Nebraska, 15 June 1899
Many people in the late 1800s and early 1900s suffered from cholera infantum symptoms after eating contaminated dairy products. Keeping milk in dirty containers and storing milk before it had cooled were two ways in which tyrotoxicons developed from putrefied dairy products.
The next two articles about death by cream puff are more sinister in nature. In January 1916 Almand Vade-Boucoeur and Henry Cassavant of Rhode Island received a package of three cream puffs in the mail, which they enjoyed despite the uncertainty of their origin. This was decades before people began panicking about mysteriously mailed gifts or the paranoia generated by the possibility of anthrax-laden envelopes, so they had little reason to be suspicious of the puffs. They called a doctor upon feeling the ill effects of the pastries but it was too late for Almand. Henry survived despite having eaten two of the cream puffs. In June of that year Hattie Oakley pled guilty to murder for having sent the deadly delectable desserts. Her punishment was twenty years in the penitentiary.