illustration of a giant man being spoon fed by tiny people


Updated Dec 09, 2020 at 10:30AM EST by andcallmeshirley.

Added Aug 30, 2019 at 10:42AM EDT by Adam.

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Tarrare was a French citizen and soldier in the late 18th century who became known for his voracious appetite. Tarrare is hypothesized to have had an extreme case of polyphagia mixed with hyperthyroidism, which caused constant, extreme hunger yet allowed Tarrare to maintain a skinny form. He was known to eat anything, including garbage, wine corks, and human flesh, and he is suspected to have eaten a 14-month old baby. He has been the subject of several articles and videos, and in August of 2019, became a meme on Tumblr as users there learned of his story.


Tarrare was born in France around 1772.[1] Despite his appetite, he maintained a skinny figure, though he had a massive stomach which would balloon up when he was full and deflate loosely when he wasn't. He also had a wide jaw which was said to be able to contain 12 eggs at a time. He left home and worked as a street performer, eating anything audiences presented to him, including inedible items. It is also stated that Tarrare smelled horribly. He spent time in a hospital after an intestinal blockage, where doctors performed experiments on him.

He later joined the military, where officers attempted to use his strange ability to their advantage. They put him to work as a spy by having him swallow a message for a commander behind enemy lines. However, when Tarrare was caught, it was discovered that the officers had given him a dummy message with no meaning, so he was released by his captors.

After returning to a hospital, Tarrare continued frustrating staffers by eating garbage, the blood of blood-letting patients, and was caught attempting to eat a cadaver. At one point, a 14-month old baby went missing from the hospital. Suspecting Tarrare had eaten the baby, the hospital kicked him out. Tarrare died in 1798.

Online Presence

Tarrare has been written about in blogs and other publications in the 21st century. Articles about Tarrare have appeared in Kotaku,[2] Mental Floss,[3] Ripley's,[4] and others. On April 2nd, 2018, YouTuber Sam O'Nella Academy made a video about Tarrare, gaining over 5 million views (shown below).

Tarrare was also the subject of memes in the late 2010s, particularly on the /r/HistoryMemes subreddit, where various templates would be adapted to fit the story of Tarrare. For example, on January 1st, 2019, user williamhe10 posted a picture of Kirby, joking it was Tarrare (shown below, left). User 8bitmelodies posted a Good Question meme on May 1st (shown below, right).

Picture of Tarrare Uncovered Hospital staff: Where did the 14 month old baby go? Tarrare: Good question.

On August 14th, 2019, Tumblr user johnnyjoestarrelatable[5] posted a reaction image related to Tarrare, gaining over 90,000 notes (shown below, left). The post kicked off a surge in Tarrare memes on the platform, including an object labeling edit posted by theevilsnuffleupagus that gained over 4,400 points (shown below, right). The surge in Tumblr memes led New York Magazine to cover Tarrare.[6]

when you're a 14 month old french infant in a military hospital in the late 18th century and that weird hungry guy comes into your room hospital staff Tarrare a toddler CALLE

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