Even back in 1995 when Amazon first launched as a humble online bookstore, founder Jeff Bezos knew the digital marketplace was destined to be an "everything store." But could Bezos have imagined "everything" would extend to live madagascar hissing cockroaches, afro wigs for dogs, and motion-activated, glow-in-the-dark toilets?
In fulfilling Bezos’ prophecy, Amazon has become a treasure trove for not only electronics, home decor, and other predictable purchases, but also the wacky and wild. And when it comes to peculiar products, Amazon’s strange side really shines in its groceries and gourmet food department.
Too often, the food department gets passed over by Amazon shoppers clicking their way straight to the electronics or fashion section. For the intrepid adventurers who do explore the dark recesses of groceries and gourmet food land, however, there are wonders to behold.
Of its vast sea of edible oddities, here are some of the strangest foods you can buy on Amazon.
Rocky Mountain Oyster beef testicle jerky
Amazon wasn’t the first institution to name the bull testicle worthy of human consumption. In fact, the "Rocky Mountain Oyster" — also known as prairie oysters, cowboy caviar, and swinging beef — was a dish dreamed up by early settlers in the Rocky Mountain Region. Reluctant to let a single piece of meat go un-barbecued, ranchers experimented with cooking beef testicles on branding coals and developed a real hankerin’ for them.
Since then, Rocky Mountain Oysters have been served deep-fried, broiled, poached, and sauteed in regions across western America and western Canada. And now, these tasty testicles can be enjoyed anywhere fine Amazon products can be delivered.
Amazon offers Rocky Mountain Oysters fresh by the pound or sliced and breaded in bags. For the cooking disinclined, we recommend going the "jerky" route. The Newport Jerky Company hawks Rocky Mountain Oyster Beef Testicle Jerky by the 1.5-ounce bag, touting them as "100 percent bull testicles" and "hand-crafted small batch." The tangy testicles are seasoned with teriyaki, along with brown sugar, pineapple juice, and bourbon. Slip them into your purse or store them in your glove compartment for a high-protein snack on-the-go!
Preserved century duck eggs
Granted, there’s a large portion of the world who may not find this Amazon order strange at all. In China, century eggs, also called "preserved eggs" and "millennium eggs" are a familiar, celebrated sulfurous snack found in grocery stores and restaurants across the nation.
Preserved eggs are cured and boiled for days, weeks, or even months (the terms "century" and "millenium" being slight marketing exaggerations) until they ferment. After a lengthy fermenting process, eggs turn a greenish, dark brown color and emit an ammonia-y smell that earned them another appetizing nickname: "horse urine egg."
If all this sounds delicious, you can order Golden Plum Preserved Duck Eggs, vacuum-sealed and ready to devour, on Amazon right now. The vendor describes their taste as "sharp" and "salty" and suggests using them as kind of a pungent condiment. I purchased a pack myself, and can attest that they do indeed taste "sharp" and that the distinctive odor may linger in your one-bedroom apartment for weeks, disturbing your neighbors.
Roasted Thai zebra tarantula
Edible insects are becoming increasingly trendy in the western world, with celebs like Nicole Kidman and Salma Hayek proudly professing their taste for bugs. Restaurants like the Black Ant NYC in New York and Bug Appétit in Louisiana have dedicated menus to creepy crawly cuisine like ant salt guac and cricket-encrusted shrimp.
Edible tarantulas themselves, even, are not unheard of — in Cambodia, garlic fried spiders are a popular snack. That said, we bet if you bust out a batch of roasted Thai zebra tarantulas at your next PTA potluck, you’re bound to get a few squeals.
Thai Zebra tarantulas, one of the 850 species of tarantulas on earth, are known for being quite aggressive until they’re caught, roasted, packaged, and shipped to your door, courtesy of Amazon. Meat Maniac is one of the few purveyors selling Thai Zebra tarantulas — along with salted queen weaver ants and barbecue bamboo worms, of course.
The term "corn smut" may sound like a particularly odd genre of erotica, but it’s not that at all.
That’s right, get your head out of the gutter. Corn smut is one of the many aliases of huitlacoche, along with "Mexican truffle," "devil’s corn," and simply "fungus." Huitlacoche (pronounced whee-tla-KOH-cheh) is both a plant disease and delicacy that has been revered since ancient Aztec times. The fungal infection looks like fluffy grey clouds and gives corn a unique, mushroom-like flavor.
To this day in modern Mexico, a corn cob with blue-black spores is worth more than a non-infected ear to many chefs. Mexican cocineros fold huitlacoche into a wide range of classic dishes, from enchiladas, to quesadilas, to flan.
Now, you can purchase huitlacoche on Amazon by the jar to use in your own cooking. Get creative and flip up some huitlacoche burgers! How about shaking up some huitlacoche cocktails? Or, show up at work with some huitlacoche muffins and surprise your coworkers by telling them the secret ingredient is corn fungus after they’ve taken a bite.
What does rattlesnake taste like? Some liken it to chicken, while others claim it smacks of alligator. But The New York Times may have said it best: "In fact, rattlesnake tastes, at least when breaded and fried, like a sinewy, half-starved tilapia… bland and difficult to eat."
But don’t let those hoity-toity food writers deter you — why not try rattlesnake for yourself and see what all the fuss is about? You can order rattlesnake on Amazon and it’ll ship straight to your doorstep, canned, de-venomized, and smoked in a "rich broth."
Once your tin o’ snake meat arrives, you can gobble it down straight from the can (though be careful — the meat contains tiny, brittle bones that should be removed before eating). If you’re culinarily inclined, dump those chunks of meat into a spicy snake stew or chili. Or try fried rattlesnake — a favorite in the south — by battering the pieces in flour and frying them in oil until golden brown.
Fermented Baltic herring
Deemed "the world’s smelliest food" by many a food critic, surströmming or "soured fish" is a pungent-smelling traditional dish from northern Sweden. It consists of tiny herring fish caught in the Baltic Sea, then salted, fermented, and canned. As the fish continues to ferment after being packaged, the tin tends to bulge as it sits unopened on the shelf. The smell is intense, described as a combination of rotten eggs, rancid butter, and vinegar. If you can get past the smell, you may find the taste is piquant, but decidedly less upsetting than the aroma.
The delicacy is served in Sweden at the end of the summer, generally in outdoor locations to allow the overwhelming odor to dissipate. Some Swedes are known to bury cans in the snow to open on December 25, like the foulest smelling Christmas presents ever.
But you don’t have to go digging around the snow in Sweden on Christmas to get a taste of surströmming. Instead, order your tin right from Amazon from a vendor who describes the product himself as a "stink bomb from Sweden."
From the masterminds that brought you edible roasted Thai Zebra tarantula comes earthworm jerky, crafted from "100 percent REAL earthworms." These skinny ‘lil guys have been jerkied with chili, rice wine vinegar, and other spices.
Before you turn up your nose at the idea of eating earthworms, we’ll have you know that earthworms are prized as a delicacy among certain cultures, including the Ye’kuana in Venezuela, the Maori people of New Zealand, and in the Fujian and Guangdong provinces of China. Turns out, earthworms are packed with nutrients, including protein, iron, and amino acids. They’re also rich in copper, zinc, and as much calcium as fresh milk.
Want to try earthworms, but are reluctant to shell out the $11 (plus shipping and handling, if you aren’t a Prime member)? Don’t think you can just head to your backyard with a trowel. If worms aren’t farm-raised in safe soil conditions, they could carry parasites and harmful germs. That’s right: Hunting earthworms is a dangerous endeavor best left to professionals.
The Australian government really wants you to eat kangaroo. In 2017, the Aussies announced that a recent census discovered 45 million kangaroos in Australia, which is almost double the number of human inhabitants. The unsustainable population growth of their national mascot has left the local government pleading with people to eat kangaroo meat, which is still considered taboo even in Australia.
Keen to try? You might be doing your body, as well as the continent of Australia, a favor. According to the Kangaroo industry, kangaroo meat is healthy: high in protein and iron and low in fat. It’s also praised for being versatile and tasty, kind of like lean beef. You can slice, dice, and sizzle the deep red colored meat into everything from tacos to stir fry.
Scotland’s beloved national dish, haggis is a sausage crafted from sheep’s organs—namely, the heart, liver, and lungs. These are minced with oatmeal, onion, suet, and spices, and traditionally encased in the sheep’s stomach (though nowadays, they’re more often served in a synthetic casing). The hearty dish is often served with turnips, mashed potatoes, and—of course—a jug of Scottish whiskey.
If you closely follow haggis-related politics, you may remember that import of haggis was banned in the U.S. way back in 1971. That’s when the USDA decreed that "livestock lungs" may not be used for human consumption. The traditional haggis recipe contains 15 percent sheep’s lung, which allegedly contributes to its signature nutty flavor and moist texture.
So why can you order haggis from Amazon? To skirt the import ban, Scottish companies within the U.S. manufacturer USDA-friendly versions without sheep’s lung and wrapped in artificial casing. Purchase your USDA-approved haggis, canned whole, from Amazon today! But if it’s that moist, flavorful taste of sheep’s lung you crave, you’ll have to get yourself to Scotland.
Thanksgiving flavored soda
Long, long ago in the year 2004, Jones Soda Co. decided it would be a good idea to release a pack of sodas that tasted like Thanksgiving in celebration of the holidays. Jones Holiday Pack included five flavors of soda: turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes with butter, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and fruitcake.
"Our holiday pack takes the work, worries and cost out of preparing a turkey dinner, so our consumers can spend more time with their loved ones," Jones Soda Co. President & CEO Peter Van Stolk explained in a press release. Noting that the company realized families were worried about packing on the holiday pounds, all of the sodas contained zero calories, zero fat, zero carbs, and zero sugar, the release said.
Bafflingly, sodas that tasted like green bean casserole and gravy didn’t exactly take off. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find them at most grocery stores, even during the holidays. So where can you turn for a calorie-free holiday meal in liquid form, shipped in their original packaging from 2004? That magical marketplace that is Amazon, of course.