Monsieur Mangetout – The Man Who Ate A Plane

Catering onboard an aircraft can sometimes be a defining factor in the enjoyment of a particular flight. However, eating while on a plane is one thing, but eating a plane itself is a rather different culinary adventure. Nonetheless, this was a challenge that Frenchman Michel Lotito undertook in the late-1970s. You may have heard of Mr Lotito by his nickname: Monsieur Mangetout.

Cessna 150
A Cessna 150 similar to the one eaten by Mr Lotito in the late ’70s. Photo: Gerard van der Schaaf via Flickr

A unique digestive system

Michel Lotito was born in Grenoble, France in 1950, and had an eating disorder known as ‘pica.’ This condition is characterized by a desire to consume largely non-nutritive substances. These can be both humanmade, such as metal, and natural, such as hair. The term comes from the Latin word for ‘magpie,’ based upon the characteristic that such birds will eat almost anything.

As a child, Lotito is said to have first dabbled in the consumption of non-nutritive substances when a glass he was drinking from broke. Upon this, he began chewing the fragments of the shattered vessel. His ability to digest unusual substances had become evident by the end of the decade. Ripley’s reports that:

“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.”

Monsieur Mangetout
Monsieur Mangetout biting into a windscreen wiper at the 1997 British International Motor Show in London. Photo: Getty Images

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This led to medical examination, and it was at this stage that doctors diagnosed Lotito with pica. However, they also found that he had a uniquely resilient digestive system. In particular, this was characterized by thicker-than-normal stomach lining and intestines. As such, the consumption of non-nutritive substances did not threaten Lotito’s health. This allowed him to forge a career as an entertainer.

Eating an aircraft

Lotito began showcasing his unusual talents in 1966, performing under the name Monsieur Mangetout (‘Mr Eat Everything’). In the late-1970s, he became known for his attempt to eat a Cessna 150 light aircraft. Beginning in 1978, Lotito gradually undertook this culinary odyssey by eating approximately one kilogram of material every day.

Monsieur Mangetout would cut the aircraft’s components into small pieces to ease their digestion. He also consumed mineral oil before ingesting the metal, as this acted as a kind of lubricant, further easing the digestion. He also washed the material down with considerable quantities of water. Two years later, in 1980, Lotito emerged victorious in his epic metallic feast, consuming the last of the Cessna’s components.

Michel Lotito Cessna 150
Michel Lotito pictured with a Cessna light aircraft similar to the one he consumed between 1978 and 1980. Photo: Guinness World Records

Monsieur Mangetout’s other unusual meals

The Cessna 150 was the most high-profile metal object that Lotito consumed. However, his career also saw him ingest several everyday items (in their use, rather than consumption!). These included the following objects.

  • Bicycles.
  • A shopping trolley.
  • Chandeliers.
  • A bed.
  • A pair of skis.
  • A computer.
  • A waterbed.
  • A coffin (including its handles).

In June 2007, Lotito died of natural causes in Grenoble, aged 57. By this time, he had been awarded the accolade of ‘Strangest Diet’ by Guinness World Records. The company awarded him a brass plaque to celebrate his digestive achievements. Of course, he ate this as well!

Had you ever heard of Monsieur Manegtout’s exploits? What has been the best meal that you have eaten onboard an aircraft? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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