Death by Chocolate (no, really): worker dies in hot cocoa mixing vat


91 Responses to “Death by Chocolate (no, really): worker dies in hot cocoa mixing vat”

  1. Nelson.C says:

    It’s a horrible death, but also a ridiculous one. The tension between the two responses is what seeds the black humour. It’s why the BBC reported the story, and why Xeni made the crack about Oompah-loompahs. It’s a completely normal response and there has to be something wrong with you if you weren’t simultaneously appalled and amused by this death, I’d say. I’d give you short odds that the emergency workers who attended the scene, while all business doing their job, when they knocked off their shift were cracking these same jokes and worse ones.

    Death is shocking; an unusual death is both shocking and funny, and made funnier by the knowledge that you really shouldn’t be laughing.

  2. Telecustard says:

    So help me out please; who’s winning the name-calling contest?

    At this stage both sides are feeling brave enough to say what they want because they feel they have a number of other bOINGers supporting them.

    But personally I would award the prize to whomever decides to set up a trust fund for the dead man’s family. I imagine the “not funny” crowd will do that, because they really really care.

    Also, they will never, ever laugh at anything to do with someone’s life ending, because it’s so wrong you know. Such an outrage.

    I will be thinking of this thread later, folks. Remember which side you picked – it’s coming back to haunt you down the road when you switch positions to pursue whatever agenda is fashionable that day. :) Cheers!

  3. Glindie says:

    You know, I never notice how “horrible” something is until people post comments on it…


  4. blueelm says:

    That is sad. I don’t care about the joke or wheter it was appropriate or not. The death is sad and unfortunate and that’s how I feel about it.

    At one of the places my father worked a worker fell into hot metal, promptly being burned to death. People there suspected it had been a suicide though.

    Like the poster before me I wonder why he was up on some kind of platform above a giant vat with nothing to secure him?

  5. Sleeper says:

    Does anyone else find that this brings to mind XKCD #386?

    Are you coming to bed?
    I can’t. This is important.
    Someone is WRONG on the internet.

  6. forgeweld says:

    Death, where is thy sting?

  7. Piers W says:

    Reminds me of the Grahame Greene short story, in which, as I recollect it, two teachers have to tell a schoolboy his father has been killed by a pig falling from a balcony in Naples or somewhere.

    They keep their faces straight, but the last line of the story is the boy asking “what happened to the pig?”

  8. Patrick Austin says:

    I know another really hilarious story kinda like this: a guy I worked with was doing some maintenance on a gigantic rotary assembly machine and it crushed his head flat.

    It was like humpty dumpty! All the king’s horses, and all the king’s men, couldn’t make his head look any better than a broken egg for the open casket.

    Everyone at the office laughed for WEEKS!

  9. nanuq says:

    I wonder what this will do to sales.

  10. ghostpoint says:

    I think a lot of the Boing Boing elite have their nerves frayed by a dispute on that Sarah Palin thread. Yeah, sorry about that one but…
    I don’t think it is funny that someone died in an industrial accident involving chocolate.
    Maybe it is because I live in Philadelphia, near the factory in question.
    Maybe it is because I have known people who have died in industrial accidents.
    Maybe it is because I am often a worker myself.
    Maybe it is because I wouldn’t even find it funny if a fictional oompah-loompah died.
    Sorry boing boing- and I’m not going away.
    I think maybe there is some inappropriate humor to be had within the story- I’ll read it now to see if I have that reaction. It’s the distanced snark that seems too pointed to me.

  11. Talia says:

    Jeez. BB has been overrun by self-righteous, arrogant folks with the sense of humor of manure piles, I see.

    In a dark way, this is funny. I am going to laugh at it, and I am not ashamed.

    So THERE!

    *sticks out tongue*

    The rest of ya’ll need a vacation or something.

  12. Nelson.C says:

    There was a black comedy starring Leonard Rossiter with this plot (that’s a good clue to how long ago it was). In that, the unfortunate accident improved the flavour of the chocolate and it became a bestseller, until that batch was used up and sales slumped again. You’ve probably already figured out what the solution was.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Wow, the sheer number of one-comment concern-troll accounts in this story make me think there’s one terribly upset person sitting behind over 9000 proxies all trying to rail home their point…

  14. ill lich says:

    Reminds me of “The Boston Molasses Disaster” (look it up on wikipedia).

    Boy, this guy GHOSTPOINT sounds like a real hoot, the life of the party. I particularly like this line:

    Maybe it is because I wouldn’t even find it funny if a fictional oompah-loompah died.

    Yeesh. It must suck not being able to go to an action/thriller movie where the fictional hero kills the fictional villain while heaping on insults and puns, a la James Bond or Spiderman (or maybe he just stands up during the movie with a protest sign and shouts “you people are SICK!!”)

  15. omnivore says:

    “Hope someone at the scene had the presence of mind to question the oompah-loompahs. ”

    Hahahahahaha. And that’s just one of 5400 industrial death reasons to laugh every year.

    So funny when a 29 year old dies in industrial accident, and a hipster blogger reduces it to puerile reference to children’s novel he fetishises. Anyone here had a factory job?


  16. Cpt. Tim says:

    people joke about death, its part of being human. death in a vat of chocolate was just waiting for some witty hilarious jokes.

    that being said though… i’m still waiting.

  17. hanna0251 says:

    You guys really should not make fun of this story, it is so sad.
    thanks! (:

  18. Takuan says:

    oh bite me, omnivore. Xeni’s got real world cred for doings, what about you?

  19. AnoniMouse says:

    Yeah, let’s all have a good laugh at the blue collar folks bustin’ their asses in dangerous jobs with no health insurance.

    Agree with Omnivore @5.

    I heart Boing Boing. But this is in bad taste.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      If you’re looking for good taste, you’ve taken a tragic wrong turn somewhere. This is the blog that made goatse a household word. I think that Ladies Home Journal and Readers Digest would probably be safe bets for completely inoffensive webotainment.

  20. stas59 says:

    This kind of cold hearted ‘humour’ really compromises the whole ‘Directory of Wonderful Things’ subheading, don’t you think?

    I am with Omnivore: a young factory worker loses his life in an accident that was no doubt completely avoidable and that’s supposed to be funny?

  21. omnivore says:

    “Xeni’s got real world cred for doings” is not an argument, or even English.

    “Oh bite me” does not merit comment.

  22. 2129 says:

    For reals. A man died here. May be an unusual death but the oompah loompah joke is weak.

  23. Rick Fletcher says:

    I heart Boing Boing. But this is in bad taste.

    Same. Hope Xeni was just having a bad day or something and has the sense to edit and apologize.

  24. Takuan says:

    bite me twice, ankle biters. “Concern troll” is too high a label for you.

  25. mdh says:

    This kind of cold hearted ‘humour’ really compromises the whole ‘Directory of Wonderful Things’ subheading, don’t you think?

    no, but the bountiful concern trolling might.

  26. Piers W says:

    He fell into the 8-foot vat and his co-worker tried to pull him out but he was hit and killed by the agitator which is the part of the vat which mixes the cocolate.
    this is such a sad story! :(

    As Oscar Wilde said: “It would take a heart of stone” …

  27. Takuan says:

    even less funny for a now two-post wonder to try to jump salty in my face. Hope you have lots of yarn for when that sock-puppet head gets pinched off.

  28. diogenes says:

    @5, @8, @11

    Glad I’m not the only one with that sort of reaction.

  29. Anonymous says:

    @those who are offended. It’s the internet, stupid. Now go and show some concern at the Darwin Awards. Sheeesh..

  30. Uncle_Max says:

    I must say, being “covered in chocolate and seemingly in dismay” seemed like an impossibility until this bit of news.

  31. Takuan says:

    and you are so concerned for the rights of man you immediately seize upon any petty chance to persecute someone who is actually doing something? Take your friends with you and get your stench out of my nostrils, hypocrite.

  32. mermaid says:

    Really. do you even know what a “concern troll” is or is your definition as solipsistic as your sense of humor.

  33. Anonymous says:

    @19 I could not agree more

  34. mdh says:

    this “laugh at dead man or gtfo” attitude is even worse.

    no. the sense of entitlement implicit in your tone as you are suggesting what is and isn’t appropriate content on someone else’s website is far, far less impressive.

    Go Pound Sand.

  35. AnoniMouse says:

    In the spirit of an interesting debate…

    Goatse does not equal oompah-loompahs.

    With the goatse joke, we are laughing at those who are offended by the image. We are laughing at sexual depravity- if you will. The punch line is the crazy shock value of the image.

    With oompah-loompahs, the punch line falls on someone’s misfortune. We are laughing at someone when they’ve fallen down. Except they didn’t fall, they died.

  36. assumetehposition says:

    Takuan, chill out dude.

  37. Takuan says:

    and what are YOU bringing to the party?

  38. Takuan says:

    all human humour is based on the misfortune of others. There is a reason for this.

  39. Frank W says:

    A young man died at the workplace for no good reason. What else is funny?

  40. mdh says:

    do you even know what a “solipsistic” is or is your definition as concerning as your sense of humor.

  41. Frank W says:

    all human humour is based on the misfortune of others. There is a reason for this.

    Two assertions, no argument.

  42. Takuan says:

    further: I believe in freedom of expression and freedom of speech. With the consequent responsibility for what comes out of your mouth. You wish to offer a critical opinion? Good. Be prepared then, to be criticized. Be so careless as to offer insult, intended or otherwise? Then be prepared to reap the consequences. Any whiney babies that think they can tug the beards of others from safe vantage: hi there!

  43. brookelet says:

    Not funny, not even in a dark way.

  44. endymion says:

    Way more sad than funny. Sorry.

  45. complicity says:

    ‘Death by Chocolate’ by choosing to dive into a vat is one of the final scenes of Terry Pratchett’s ‘Thief of Time’. There, it’s both moving and appropriate. Unlike here.

  46. compassion2.0 says:

    I find this deeply disturbing. Boing Boing’s contributors defend online freedom of speech, privacy, literacy and many other noble causes.

    But an industrial accident is funny? Because there was chocolate involved?

    This man has a family. How will they feel if/when they read this post?

    If “oddly-enough-and-incredibly-tragic-personal disasters” is an important category of “wonderful” to Boing Boing, then there is a whole lot more out there you could be mining. The world’s slaughterhouses could provide you lots of material.

    I think an apology is in order. This is not about taste. This about having the basic sense of decency to know that a website with millions of readers ought to think twice before mocking someone’s death.

  47. Olly McPherson says:

    Throw me in the “not funny” camp on this one. This isn’t why I read Boing Boing.

  48. mdh says:

    I never said it was funny.

    but I have heard a few Snickers in the crowd here.

  49. Pantograph says:

    I’m so glad that I’m part of the Great Chocolate Tiff of ’09.
    Generations will speak of this day.

  50. Anonymous says:

    “No Augustus! Don’t drink from the river of chocolate!”

  51. guernican says:

    “Hope someone at the scene had the presence of mind to question the oompah-loompahs”

    That was definitely in poor taste.

  52. paulmclaughlin says:

    I’m not usually one to get judgemental about postings – I do enjoy schadenfreude as much as anyone else and I’m regularly on b3ta.

    Maybe it’s the safety lectures I have had at university where we were shown images of people who have been caught in industrial machinery and literally torn in half due to poor safety guards or lax procedures. Maybe it’s the scalding that I have seen on a 40 year old who was forced to retire on medical grounds from a moment’s inattention when using a hot water hose.

    But I can’t laugh at industrial accidents like this. It is a horrific way to die. Unlike the Darwin awards it is not likely to be his own fault (he was a temporary worker). Unlike Roald Dahl’s stories it is real.

  53. jso says:

    > With the goatse joke, we are laughing at those who are offended by the image.

    And with this, I’m laughing at all you who are offended with a statement.

  54. Maurice Reeves says:

    Poor Augustus Gloop,
    all he did was stoop,
    his head for some cocoa,
    didn’t know it’s a no-no,
    and now he’s a double-dip scoop

  55. jso says:

    > I’m not usually one to get judgemental about postings…

    Get bent.

    People die. It happens. Instead of getting upset at someone’s response to noticing this, you should get upset at the cause and do something.

    “Tragedy is me cutting my finger; comedy is you falling down a manhole and dying.” — Mel Brooks

  56. mdh says:

    apparently some folks need it sugar coated and will accept no substitutes.

  57. Telecustard says:

    I work in a factory. I know I’m supposed to either marvel at the surreal absurdity of something as wonderful as chocolate turning deadly, or I’m supposed to feel sympathy for my brother worker perishing in an industrial accident, but instead I’m inclined to ask why a person has to stand on a platform over an open vat and drop slabs of chocolate in? Couldn’t a machine do that? Why was this man not wearing a safety harness? If it’s being heated and melted, where do the vapours go? Did he pass out from chocolate vapour displacing the air in his lungs? Did the sight of whirling chocolate below give him vertigo? Was he fully aware of the hazard?

    It is sad that he died, but when I hear that an accident like this is “preventable” it pisses me off. Preventable by what means exactly, if the guy wasn’t wearing a safety harness?

  58. mdh says:

    Where was all this self-righteousness in the Michael Jackson threads?

    oh, right, it was on the other side of the coin, mocking the dead.

  59. paulmclaughlin says:

    I’m well aware that misfortune is the root of humour. But when dealing with recent tragedies, you’ve got to be spot on with the jokes. If it isn’t funny, then you just end up looking like a ghoul. And I can’t see how “Oh look, someone died in a chocolate factory – make an oompa loompa joke” is that funny.

  60. stumo says:

    I’m with the “This isn’t funny” crowd.

  61. Pantograph says:

    Well Paul @#38 it IS a horrific way to die, and that is WHY some of us laugh about it. That’s what black humour is all about. Because if you can’t laugh at the horrors of this world, you’ll never stop crying.

    There are very few pleasant ways to die, and it will come to all of us. We laugh to keep death at bay. So all of you please save your judgment about what is appropriate in your social circle for another subject. We’re trying to survive here.

  62. Talia says:

    For f**k’s sake. People make jokes about the Holocaust, hurricane Katrina and other such epic sources of death constantly (and this aint nothing on those, obviously). As Captain Tim said, it’s human nature.

    And peculiar stories, tragic are not, are in fact one of the reasons I read BoingBoing.

  63. Sork says:

    The comments so far are like the Austin Powers movies where a henchman dies in a funny, cruel and avoidable accident and we get to see the aftermath when his family and friends learn of this.

    There are probably millions of deaths every day in the world and I think someone killed by oompa-loompas is more hilarious than a bus accident in Kairo.

  64. rdkeir says:

    Question for those who think this is funny: would you say that to one of Vincent Smith’s relatives?

    Didn’t think so.

  65. oheso says:

    I read this headline (from BBC, actually) to my coworker and her first reaction was, “Like that scene from Willy Wonka.”

    Someone please go castigate the BBC editors. There’s no way a single death from an industrial accident is international news, unless you factor in the “death by chocolate” part of the equation. The venerable Beeb is obviously capitalizing on someone else’s misfortune.

    Incidentally, you are all hereby invited to my wake. I hope you laugh, sing, dance, get drunk and piss on my cenotaph: i.e., celebrate being alive.

  66. Darren Garrison says:

    And here’s the much more fun thread on a site with apparently far fewer people with sticks up their asses:

  67. lordelph says:

    Oompa Loompa doompadee doo
    I’ve got another puzzle for you
    Oompa Loompa doompadah dee
    If you are wise you’ll listen to me

    A fact of life that has to be said
    A laugh and a joke helps us deal with the dead
    Even when the death is a sad tragic waste
    Humans by nature make jokes in bad taste

    You’ll get no
    You’ll get no
    You’ll get no
    You’ll get no
    You’ll get no apologies

    Oompa Loompa Doompadee Dog
    Learn to accept the jokes in this blog
    Send them to friends in emails too
    Like the Oompa
    Oompa Loompa doompadee do

  68. Jeeb says:

    Just because a joke is in poor taste does not make it funny.

  69. Category says:

    Humour is a coping method. And to be honest, I found it quite amusing!

    You upset guys need to lighten up, or stick to your PTA meetings.

  70. annafdd says:

    @44: well, I was appalled at the mocking of Michael Jackson, and I am appalled now. This isn’t funny, and treating somebody’s real death as comedy material is shallow and callous, and has nothing to do with the real nature of humor, which is when you manage to laugh at things that do affect you.

    You laugh at your beloved mother’s funeral, you are celebrating life. You laugh at a poor bloke who died in an industrial accident, you are a jerk in my book. And I am disgusted with BB.

  71. Alison Scott says:

    For some reason I couldn’t see the comment box in Safari 4 from home this morning.

    I was angry about this post; it’s not a funny story, there’s no ‘Darwin award’-type amusement to be got here; it’s a tragic industrial accident. And Xeni Jordin, who has some sort of monstrous tin ear for tastefulness, plays it consistently for laughs.

    She squeezes three jokes into just over 100 words(the jokey title, the reference to Oompa Loompas, and the awful suggestion that co-workers were ‘seemingly dismayed’). By comparison, the BBC, though perhaps displaying slightly poor judgement in running the story at all, were careful to stay on the right side of decency.

    Yes, of course people can ‘blog what they like’. But the rest of us have a responsibility to stand up and say ‘huh; what you have done here is not part of how decent people behave’.

  72. failix says:

    So how many of you “appalled at dark humor people” read the fail blog? What a bunch of hypocrites… As if you didn’t at least smile when you saw the title. People die every day, and yes some deaths appear funnier than others because of certain associations we make. That worker certainly would’ve preferred to make people laugh than cry anyway, at least I would’ve.

  73. ShowPony says:

    As someone who’s scrubbed his co-workers blood off a press, I’m laughing *at* Xeni, Takuan, et al, not with them.
    It’s as funny as watching the straight students mincing up and down outside the funeral of a gay friend who was beaten to death. They think they’re so witty, so clever, so hilarious to make fun of something they know they’ll never experience, when they can just walk away and never have to live with any consequences. But when you look closely, you realise that the joke’s on them. What an utterly shallow, futile life they must have to need to show their moral superiority over the death of their social inferiors.

    Hey, stay classy up there on top of Metropolis!

  74. mdh says:

    Question for RDKIER – are YOU one of his relatives?

    Please stick to being offended on your own behalf.

    For all you know the guy did it to get on the internet.

  75. RoadTransport says:

    I’m with all the ‘not funny’, ‘not nice’ commenters. Sorry, Xeni, but I think you’ve blown this one.

    Still love BoingBoing, though.

  76. failix says:

    Yeah well I guess there are those who are able to laugh at death, and those who fear death.

    And there’s a big difference between an accident that occurs in funny circumstances and what you describe SHOWPONY.
    It’s actually even offensive to compare an accident to a intolerance motivated crime. You’re just plain wrong. And what’s that sh*t about social inferiors? What the f*ck do you know about our social status? And who are you to even suggest that we think in those terms? In case you didn’t get it, the funny part isn’t the fact that this guy probably worked in miserable conditions…
    Again, the “not funny” crowd is either a bunch of hypocrites, or you have serious issues and don’t know where to set priorities.

  77. mookiepeetookie says:

    It’s just poor comedy really. It’s often said the key to comedy is timing – Xeni’s would appear to be a bit off here.

    In Australia we recently had ‘The Chaser’ “comedy” taken off the air for two weeks due to a skit they did about cancer kids:

    I wasn’t offended, but a lot of people (especially parents who have been through the trauma) were, and the team ended up putting an apology on their website.

    Maybe it the fact that I’ve worked in factories and know a bit about the tragedy of people going to work and losing their lives made me think this was poor

  78. Jeeb says:

    @59 How the f*ck do you know I’m a hypocrite or have serious issues because I find a joke tasteless and unfunny? So *you* laugh at a death,(one that doesn’t effect you personally in any way) and those that just don’t find it funny are afraid of it?

    What *is* the funny part again? That the guy worked with chocolate and chocolate tastes soo good?
    HAW HAW…
    nope, I just don’t think it’s funny and I do not fear death nor do I think my priorities are somehow out of line.

  79. rdkeir says:

    MDH at #90 – Feeling uncomfortable? Can’t face anyone questioning you for making fun of a family’s tragedy?

  80. caldrax says:

    Death can be funny too you damn prudes

  81. caldrax says:

    And even if you don’t find humor in the post, who cares? There are people all over the world making tasteless jokes about death every day. At least this one tastes like chocolate. GET IT HA HA HA HA!

    oh man, I KILL ME

    what a LAUGH RIOT

    that joke was TO DIE FOR

  82. mdh says:

    I could face it, had I made fun of the man.

    Fortunately I haven’t.

    Can’t face your won mortality, rdkier? Could that be the problem here? Just Maybe?

  83. EeyoreX says:

    Oh dang it, I arrived late to the fight and now I don’t know who to side with here. So help me out please; who’s winning the name-calling contest?

    Because winning is what matters here, right?

  84. General Specific says:

    I don’t think it’s prudish to find a joke tasteless.

    I recognize that this is someone else’s blog, but BB readers are vast and varied, so it seems pointless for anyone to get offended by a reader’s negative reaction. You guys are quick to damn a naysayer to oblivion for something they disagree with, but at the same time you claim to be a fan of freedom of speech and expression.

    Takuan makes me want to stop reading BB. Concern trolling sucks, but so does reading his arrogant, shit-stirring posts.

  85. Brainspore says:

    This story reminded me of how my uncle died. He was an Irish-American employee at the Guinness plant and fell into one of the beer vats.

    The other workers tried to pull him out, but he kept fighting them off.


  86. sobreiro says:

    “I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.” — George Carlin

    Screw the haters, who gives a shit if you don’t like what Xeni said? Oh, an anonymous on the internet said he doesn’t take her seriously anymore, my world is shattered!

  87. failix says:


    I think you have serious issues if you want to tell *me* that I’m wrong to laugh at the unusual circumstances that surrounded this unlucky mans death, and then brag about your moral “superiority”.

    Amen at the Carlin quote.