CHARLES DOMERY – The Man Who couldn’t stop eating!

CHARLES DOMERY - The Man Who couldn't stop eating!

Charles Domery

Charles Domery
Charles Domery, The Man Who Couldn’t Stop Eating!

Charles Domery stories can be difficult to believe. However, the stories you’re about to read about the unusual man named Charles Domery, each and every one of the events mentioned here actually happened. Some of them were recorded by doctors, while others were told by the men Domery served in the army with. I have no way of knowing if the army stories are exaggerated or not. Even if they are, they are all based on actual events.

The story of Charles Domery is an unusual tale to be sure. Enjoy!

5 Quick Facts about Charles Domery

  • Beginning at the age of 13, Charles Domery developed an unusually large appetite.
  • Also at age 13, he enlisted into the Prussian Army
  • Domery surrendered to the French army due to hunger
  • An army comrade recalled him devouring 174 cats dead or alive. Sometimes, he killed them before eating, but when very hungry, did not wait until they were dead.
  • When no other food was available he would eat 4 to 5 pounds of grass each day.

The Childhood of Charles Domery

Charles Domery The Man Who Couldn't Stop Eating
Illustration of Charles Domery eating everything in sight!

Charles Domery (later also known as Charles Domerz) was born in Benche, Poland, in 1778.

Beginning at the age of 13, Charles Domery developed an unusually large appetite. Domery was one of nine brothers, all of whom he said suffered from the same condition.

Domery recalled that his father was a hearty eater and generally ate his meat half-boiled, but he was too young to recall the quantity.

The only illness he was aware of in his family was an outbreak of smallpox in his youth, which the entire family contracted and survived.

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Charles Domery Joins The Military and Surrenders due to hunger

At the age of 13, Domery enlisted in the Prussian Army, and became part of an army besieging Thionville during the War of the First Coalition.

The Prussian Army was suffering from food shortages which Domery found intolerable; he entered the town and surrendered to the French commander who rewarded him with a large melon, which Domery immediately ate, including the rind.

He was then given a wide variety of other foodstuffs by the French general, all of which he ate straight away.

Charles Domery then enlisted with the French Revolutionary Army, and shocked his new comrades with his unusual eating habits and voracious appetite.

Granted double rations, and using his pay to buy additional food whenever possible, he nonetheless suffered from extreme hunger; while based in an army camp near Paris, Domery ate 174 cats in a single year, leaving only the skins and bones, and ate 4 to 5 pounds (1.8 to 2.3 kg) of grass each day if other food was unavailable.

One of the men who served in the military with Domery recalled him eating the cats.

In one year, he devoured 174 cats dead or alive; and says, he had several severe conflicts of interest in the act of destroying them, by feeling the effects of their torments on his face and hands: sometimes, he killed them before eating, but when very hungry, did not wait to perform this humane office.

Testimony of M. Picard who served with Charles Domery
Charles Domery, The Man Who Ate 174 Cats & couldn't stop eating!

Charles Domery is Experimented on as a Prisoner of War.

While being held as a prisoner of war, Dr. J Johnston, ran an experiment to test Domery’s eating capacity and tolerance for unusual foods.

The following was recorded by Doctor J Johnston during his Experiment on Charles Domery.

4:00 am

Domery was awakened and fed 4 lbs (1.8 kg) of raw cow udder, which was eaten without hesitation.

9:30 am

He was given a meal of 5 lbs (2.3 kg) of raw beef, twelve large tallow candles totalling one pound (453 g), and a bottle of porter, all of which were consumed.

1:00 pm

Domery was given another meal of a further 5 lbs of beef, a pound (453 g) of candles, and three large bottles of porter, all of which were also eaten and drunk.

During the course of the experiment, he did not defecate, urinate or vomit at any point, his pulse remained regular and his skin did not change temperature.

6:15 pm

Upon Domery’s return to his quarters at 6:15 pm following the conclusion of the experiment, he was recorded as being of “particularly good cheer“, and danced, smoked his pipe drank a further bottle of porter

The eagerness with which he attacks his beef when his stomach is not gorged, resembles the voracity of a hungry wolf, tearing off and swallowing it with canine greediness.

When his throat is dry from continued exercise, he lubricates it by stripping the grease off the candles between his teeth, which he generally finishes at three mouthfuls, and wrapping the wick like a ball, string and all, sends it after at a swallow.

He can, when no choice is left, make shift to dine on immense quantities of raw potatoes or turnips; but, from choice, would never desire to taste bread or vegetables.

From the notes of Dr. J Johnston
Charles Domery The Man Who Couldn't Stop Eating
Illustration depicting Charles Domery eating everything in sight!

Charles Domery appeared Normal

Despite his unusual diet and behaviour in the presence of food, doctors described Domery as of normal build, and tall for the period at 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m).

He had long, brown hair and grey eyes, was smooth-skinned, and was described as having a “pleasant countenance”.

Doctors observing Domery saw no signs of mental illness and although illiterate, he was considered of normal intelligence by his crewmates and by the prison doctors who studied him.

Despite eating vast amounts of food, it was noted by the doctors studying him that he never vomited, other than when fed large amounts of roasted or boiled meat.

He showed no outward signs of ill health, and doctors observing him noted that his eyes were lively and his tongue clean. His pulse was regular at around 84 BPM, and his body temperature normal.

His muscles were normally formed, but observed by doctors to be weaker than usual, although during his time in the army, he had marched 14 French leagues (approximately 25 mi/42 km) in a day with no ill effects.

Charles Domery’s Strange Nighttime Ritual

It was observed that immediately after going to bed, generally at about 8:00 pm, Domery would begin to sweat profusely.

After one to two hours lying awake and perspiring, he would fall asleep before waking at around 1:00 am extremely hungry, regardless of what he had eaten before going to bed.

At this time, he would eat any available food, or if no food was available, he would smoke tobacco. At around 2:00 am, he would go back to sleep, and wake again at between 5:00 and 6:00 am, sweating heavily; as soon as he got out of bed, the sweating would cease, starting again whenever he ate.

No one knows what caused Charles Domery to aquire this peculiar Condition

The cause of Domery’s appetite is not known. While there are other documented cases of similar behavior from this period, none of the subjects other than the contemporary of Charles Domery, a man by the name of Tarrare were autopsied, and there have been no modern documented cases of such an extreme appetites.

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Charles Domery, The Man Who Ate 174 Cats & couldn’t stop eating!