Monsieur Mangetout

The world can be unfair at times. We all have our talents, but some simply aren’t celebrated as much as they deserve to be. World-class actors, athletes, and writers are held up as heroes, but what about Michel Lotito? He ate a dang airplane!

Monsieur Mangetout’s Legend Begins

Before we get to the incredible feat itself, you probably need a little context right about now. So buckle up for the story of Lotito’s extraordinary life. He was born in Grenoble, France, in 1950. From the age of nine, he developed an unusual tolerance for—and fondness for—eating dangerous objects like glass and metal, which are generally indigestible.

According to legend, this first bout of unusual eating came about when a glass the young Lotito was drinking from shattered and he began chewing the fragments. Why this sort of thing was encouraged, nobody can really say, but the young man was soon examined and tested by doctors and gastroenterologists. His ability was unique, they determined, attributing it to a condition known as pica. This gave Michel a taste for unusual, non-nutritive items.

Lotito’s Impossible Biology

Fortunately for him,  doctors soon determined that he had an incredibly resilient digestive system, with a super thick stomach lining and intestines. As a result, he could “safely” consume just about anything. And so an incredible career as Monsieur Mangetout (Mr. Eat-all) began.

The French entertainer may have been able to eat an impossible range of items, but he still had to take great care. His technique revolved around reducing metal objects into smaller pieces, making them easier for his body to handle by keeping his throat lubricated with mineral oil. In this way, he would regularly eat two pounds of metal every day!

Over the course of Monsieur Mangetout’s career, his diet included 18 bicycles, seven TV sets, two beds, 15 supermarket trolleys, a computer, a coffin (handles and all), a pair of skis and six chandeliers. That’s pretty dang impressive by anybody’s standards, but the pinnacle of his entertainment career was the time he ate a whole dang airplane.

That’s right. In 1978, he ate an entire Cessna 150 airplane. That is to say, he began eating it in 1978, because it was a laborious piece-by-piece process that took two years. Finally, in 1980, he emerged from the epic battle of man versus flying machine victorious.

A Most Unusual Legacy

So, there it is. Lotito passed away of natural causes in 2007, at the age of 57. He left behind an incredible legacy as a man with one of the most unusual diets ever recorded. Pica, of course, is classified as quite a dangerous condition, considering that some of the objects people with the condition consume may have toxic components (i.e. lead) or harm their insides. Lotito may have been effectively immune to this, but his curious biology brought up an unusual problem: He struggled to eat soft foods like bananas!

This was thought to be a side effect of his unusually potent stomach acids. Today, it’s difficult to give any definitive answers, but one thing’s for sure: the world will never, ever forget the man who ate an airplane.


By Chris Littlechild, contributor for Ripleys.com