Thankfully, history is full of stories that can enlighten us, and at the center of many are the very ingredients found inside that little hidden toolkit. They might grow right outside our door, but they’ve played a role in countless events that have shaped the course of human civilization. And along the way, they’ve become something more. All someone had to do, it seems, is pick their poison.
Episode 166 of the Lore podcast puts a special emphasis on the deadly. Starting with the hemlock cocktail forced on Socrates, host Aaron Mahnke traces an array of poisonings throughout world history. Some exotic concoctions are discussed, from the legendary Chinese gu to Sicily’s dreaded Aqua Tofana. Deaths accidental (the demise of silent-film actress Olive Thomas) and deliberate (those orchestrated by England’s first female serial killer) are recounted, but what keeps the episode from turning into just another true-crime podcast is Mahnke’s commitment to connecting the concept of poisoning to the folkloric. Brimming with interesting examples, “Toxic” is a narrative brew that Lore-lovers will have no problem swallowing.