From ancient Greece, where small fried fish were peddled, to Aztec marketplaces, where tamales, insects, and stews were a delicacy, ready-to-eat street food sold by vendors has been around for centuries. It’s still a staple of many cities today. Whether you want a hot dog, taco, or something more unique, there’s a food truck for that.
These days, many who have taken to the profession have indubitably experienced their share of ups and downs, predicated on a volatile economy and uncertain monetary prosperity. The following ten entries examine several unsavory street vendors who boiled over in events too bizarre and disgusting to comprehend or imagine prior to eating.
10 A Spicy Sriracha Shower
You never know when you might cross paths with an unhinged individual destined to ruin someone’s day. For Carlotta Washington, her run-in with Islam El Masry turned into a racist food fight after she attempted to pay for her lunch in quarters in June 2018. El Masry, the owner of Small Pharoah’s halal cart in Portland, Oregon, became so perturbed about Washington’s change that he responded in the only eloquent way he knew how: by calling her the “n-word,” a “stupid f—ing b—” and demanding that she “get the f— away” from his cart.
As if his romantic tirade wasn’t classy enough, El Masry took his fury a step further by and hurling a Gatorade bottle at her. Not long after that, he proceeded to douse Washington in sriracha. Numerous onlookers came to Washington’s defense as she sobbed in disbelief, covered in hot sauce. Three police officers arrived on scene a short time later and arrested the temperamental vendor on misdemeanor harassment and assault.
Incensed by the vendor’s demented actions, local residents began harassing the owner of an Egyptian food cart in downtown Portland the following day. The only problem was that it was a completely different individual with no association to the sriracha-wielding cook. Some 15 to 20 people holding signs shouted obscenities at Gharib Muhammad’s wife as she operated their food cart. One man staed, “I remember what you did yesterday.”
9 ‘Can I Get A Large Coke?’
When approaching the food truck of Johnny B. Jones (aka “Big Dad”) in Springfield, Tennessee, one could order a burger and fries with a side of cocaine. It eventually became public knowledge that the beloved neighborhood cook was offering hot dogs along with the daily special, his infamous booger sugar. Booked into Robertson County jail on a six-count indictment in spring 2018, the 57-year-old could very well be trading in his apron for a fashionable orange jumpsuit.
Jones’s dire predicament began following a joint investigation by the Robertson County Sheriff’s Office and the Springfield Police Department’s narcotics division nearly a year prior to his arrest. It seems that arrogance was more of a factor than logic for the peddler, as detectives observed an innumerable amount of transactions at Big Dad’s stand, all while he turned famished frowns into smiles and, perhaps, rapid heartbeats. “It was a shock to us, what we found out,” said Detective Houston Evans. “I’m sure everyone else who heard about this is shocked, as well.”
The distinctive red and yellow truck that had become so loved by Springfield locals throughout the years is now a grim reminder of the growing drug problem throughout their state. In a final twist of irony, Jones’s home-style cooking food truck was situated near one of the most laughable localities, a police station and sheriff’s office.
8 Daily Specials
A woman in Long Island was smoking more than just sausage when she converted her hot dog truck into a miniature brothel. In 2012, Catherine Scalia, 45, decided to expand her business by handing out suggestive cards titled “Strips-R-Us” and advertising a “topless cleaning service” and “one-on-one strips.”
Disgruntled and nauseated neighbors not privy to her marketing strategies eventually complained to authorities, stating, “In the summertime she’s out in her bra and panties. It’s disgusting. She’s filthy, she’s dirty. How could men take that?” In her own defense, the mother of four contentedly gloated about her professionalism and unyielding restraint when it comes to children, asserting, “I zip up when I see kids.” In spite of such morality, Scalia soon found herself inside a jail cell after offering one of her daily specials to an undercover police officer.
This was not the first time that her flesh-peddling ways led her to the slammer. Scalia was arrested eight years prior after performing sexual acts on her co-chef in the “captain’s chair” of the same hot dog truck. According to one local resident who observed several satisfied clients blissfully leave her establishment, “They seemed pretty happy. Now I can see why.” One can only hope that her proficiency in cleaning is as highly regarded as her “home cooking.”
7 The Hot Dog Nazi
Michael Anderson of M.A.’s Gourmet Dogs in Anchorage, Alaska, garnered quite the reputation after serving up sizzling hot dogs with an attitude. Known as “the hot dog Nazi,” Anderson was infamous for his strict rules (such as refusal to serve anyone talking on a cell phone) and his tendency to lose his cool if customers dared to stray from his stringent regulations.
His bizarre tirades became endearing to local residents for nearly 20 years. That was until he was charged for unwanted sexual contact with a teenage employee in 2015. Ironically enough, the incident occurred near Anderson’s pushcart, situated in front of the old Federal Building, of all places. According to Anderson’s accuser, he coerced her with alcohol before touching her “down there.” In addition to his appalling advances, the 54-year-old vendor took a liking to gorging on marijuana brownies while on the job and washing it down with pints of vodka.
With several charges stacked against him and his reputation in shambles, Anderson killed himself in 2016, one day before he was set to go to trial. To date, the vacancy on the infamous corner he stood on for over two decades echoes a sobering memory of a troubled and wasted life.
6 Virgin Boy Eggs
An unmistakable, pungent aroma reminiscent of a nursing home is what you can find permeating the streets of the Chinese city of Dongyang. As local residents flock to their neighborhood vendor, buckets of boys’ urine boil over as eggs are soaked and cooked in the fragrant yellow “broth.” The unique snack, popular for its “fresh and salty taste,” is a local tradition that has been passed down by ancestors for centuries. “Virgin boy eggs,” as they’re so eloquently named, are claimed to have remarkable health benefits. Gallons of piss are collected from primary schools and used as the main ingredient by egg vendors throughout the city.
Virgin boy eggs are not only served up on street corners but in residences as well. In those instances, the magical yellow liquid is personally collected by locals from nearby schools under the guise of a therapeutic appetizer. “If you eat this, you will not get heat stroke. These eggs cooked in urine are fragrant,” said egg vendor Ge Yaohua. “They are good for your health. Our family has them for every meal. In Dongyang, every family likes eating them.” Interestingly enough, government officials listed the nauseating treat as part of the city’s cultural heritage, ensuring its popularity and consumption for centuries to come.
5 Satay Chicken
“Satay chicken, not dog?” asked a skeptical tourist on a Bali beach after purchasing mystery meat from a vendor. “I’m happy just as long as it’s not dog,” the man said before he naively devoured poor Lassie. Sadly, such revolting grub is commonplace in Indonesia, where dogs are tortured prior to their slaughter for human consumption. An investigation led by Animals Australia found that vendors throughout Bali have been deceptively selling canine meat to unsuspecting tourists under the guise of chicken. “Tourists will walk down a street, they’ll see a street store selling satay but what they are not realising is the letters RW on the store mean it is dog meat being served,” Animals Australia’s campaign director Lyn White said.
In a place where dog meat is legal, hoards of unscrupulous vendors hunt, steal, beat, hang, or poison the canines in order to turn a quick profit. An unapologetic 83-year-old, for example, resorted to snatching an average of 12 dogs a week due to the fact that he could not find another source of income. After capturing his prey, be it an older dog or a puppy, the elderly man described bludgeoning the animals with a metal pipe in a nonchalant fashion without the slightest hint of remorse.
As grotesque as his method is, it is far more troublesome that countless vendors have been known to use cyanide as a means to kill. Dr. Andrew Dawson of the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre stated that its use poses a significant threat, considering that, “Cyanide is not going to be destroyed by cooking. So there will be cyanide throughout the dog’s body. The actual risk depends upon how much poison is in the dog meat.” To date, no human deaths have been reported from the consumption of dog meat in Indonesia, yet. Time will tell.
4 A Special Ingredient
As if urine-soaked eggs weren’t stomach-churning enough, a 59-year-old paani puri vendor in India was arrested in 2011 for adding his own special flavor to his sauces. Naupada resident Ankita Rane, 19, began keeping a close eye on vendor Rajdev Lakhan Chauhan, who had a reputation for being “quite gross,” from the confines of her balcony. “We have seen him scratching himself or picking his nose if no one was around. I had always asked my friends to refrain from eating there, but they were so hooked to the taste that they rubbished whatever we said.”
That all changed, however, after Rane witnessed Chauhan urinating into his saucepans before blending his tangy delicacy into the paani puri mix or the neighborhood favorite, ragda. After several days of dousing his utensils with golden showers, the saucy street vendor was filmed in the act. The video was then shown to local residents. When neighbors in the area learned of Chauhan’s special ingredient, they surrounded his cart and took turns beating him up before dragging the devious urinator to the police station.
When questioned, Chauhan simply stated that he had nowhere else to pee and that urinating into the pans kept the residential streets of Bhaskar Colony clean. Despite his righteous intentions, police decided to detain Chauhan but were confused about what to charge him with: “In the end, all we could book him under was the Bombay Police act for urinating in public places.” Chauhan ultimately pleaded guilty and was fined 1,200 rupees before being let off with a warning.
3 Turf Wars
In 2016, when ice cream man John Cierco pulled up to his “favorite spot” in New York City, a sense of ire pulsed through his veins upon finding a pretzel vendor encroaching on “his” corner. Moments later, the pretzel peddler was pummeled over the head with a baseball bat.
Such barbaric acts over turf become surprisingly commonplace when profit-oriented territory determines ones success. In spite of cities not dictating certain locations for food carts or trucks, unwritten rules have allowed vendors to virtually own particular spots for decades on end. This has spawned violent turf wars by established vendors, who see newcomers as competition in a desperate economy.
In 2012, bullets flew outside Yankee Stadium when 52-year-old Horace Coleman shot two competitors multiple times with a .357 magnum. According to witnesses, Coleman, known on the streets as “Ace,” had been at war over his sidewalk turf for quite some time. “They were trying to bully him out of his spot,” said Coleman’s friend Gracie Olivera; that is until the pistol-packing vendor—dressed in a pinstripe suit, a flamboyant derby hat, and gold-framed sunglasses—took matters into his own hands. “He didn’t say anything. He walked up, pulled out and started firing. Bang! Bang! Bang!”
2 Human Tamales
Working on an anonymous tip in 2004, Mexican police raided the home of a tamale vendor suspected of having a dismembered corpse in his kitchen. Upon the discovery of carved-up body parts, detectives noted that the appetizing ingredients were in the process of being boiled on the stove with herbs and spices.
The homicidal vendor, who worked as a butcher for eight years, vehemently denied using human meat in the tamales that he sold from his cart. Nonetheless, police took it upon themselves to test the tamales for human remains as opposed to taking the word of a man halfway into the process of filleting a fresh cadaver. According to the resourceful chef, he killed the unidentified man in a drunken argument the day prior to seasoning him for lunch.
Following an analysis, police found no trace of human flesh in the food. However, police claimed to have found “other materials” and ingredients suggesting that the unorthodox cook was preparing to make a “new batch” of tamales while in the vicinity of his decomposing, edible victim, or soon-to-be cuisine.
1 Tarek El-Tayeb Mohammed Bouazizi
The only vendor on this list worthy of accolades is Tarek el-Tayeb Mohammed Bouazizi, who, on December 17, 2010, set himself ablaze, igniting a revolution. Working as a vegetable seller in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, Bouazizi’s dream was to save enough money to purchase a food truck. Sadly, the 26-year-old’s hopes and aspirations came crashing down when a policewoman confiscated his unlicensed vegetable cart and his produce. To add insult to injury, the officer slapped Bouazizi, insulted his dead father, and spat in the scrawny vendor’s face.
After his complaints to local municipality officials fell on deaf ears, a humiliated and dejected Bouazizi doused himself with fuel in the town’s square and set himself on fire. As Bouazizi clung to life in the hospital, outrage erupted throughout the country over the high unemployment, corruption, and autocratic rule.
Following his death on January 4, 2011, Bouazizi became a legend, with his martyrdom symbolizing the people’s struggle for survival and how it has shaken despotic Arab governments in what many have referred to as the “people’s revolution.” In response to the growing protests, Tunisia’s President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia On January 14, 2011, bringing an end to his dictatorship after 23 years of power.
Adam is just a hubcap trying to hold on in the fast lane.