Since 1966 “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” has been a holiday favorite for young and old alike. In this 26 minute cartoon, the despicable and ruthless Mr. Grinch goes through extreme measures to dampen the Christmas spirit. To adequately describe the low down character traits of the green grouch, the song “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” was incorporated into the script.
We IPC staff examined and analyzed the lyrics of this tune, and to our amazement we were astounded by the many references to household poisonings, and toxic, venomous, or otherwise noxious substances that would prompt people to call a poison control center for assistance. We came up with 28 such references.
Are there any others that you can find?
- Cactus – refers to poisonous indoor & outdoor plants
- Eel –refers to fish poisons such as puffer fish or paralytic shellfish, and also includes fish stings from certain aquarium pets, such as lion fish
- Bad Banana – Bacterial spoilage of food
- “Greasy” (black) – refers to crude oil derivatives, such as gasoline and paint thinners, which carry the warning label “harmful or fatal if swallowed”
- Your “heart” is an empty hole – there were a little over 97,000 accidental and intentional poisonings involving cardiovascular drugs reported to U.S. poison centers in 2010
- Spiders – black widow and brown recluse spider envenomation
- Garlic – “all natural” herbal and homeopathic supplements and medications
- Vile – someone who poisons another maliciously, e.g., the “Chicago Tylenol Murders” – seven people died after taking Tylenol that was poisoned with cyanide in 1982
- Termites – pesticides used to kill ants, roaches, bed bugs, etc.
- Tender Sweetness – some poisons have attractive fragrances and taste sweet, therefore bittering agents such as Bitrex® are added to deter ingestion
- Crocodile – reptile bites, i.e., poisonous and non-poisonous snakes
- Foul – the bad odor of certain poisons, e.g., the “rotten egg” odor of highly toxic hydrogen sulfide gas
- Skunk – noxious odors, vapors, or gases, i.e., chloramine gas produced by mixing bleach and ammonia together, which may lead to coughing, vomiting, or difficulty breathing
- Unwashed Socks – laundry detergents and other cleaning products
- Gunk – what we use drain cleaners for
- Stink, Stank, Stunk – objectionable abdominal gas and diarrhea associated w/ food poisoning
- Sots – a person intoxicated by alcohol and all its substitutes used in desperation, such as rubbing alcohol, mouthwash, and hairspray
- Tomato – the leaves and stems of tomato and potato plants are poisonous
- Moldy, Purple Spots – black mold, aka Stachybotrys, and other environmental toxins
- Dump-Heap – environmental landfills contaminated with toxic, hazardous materials
- Deplorable Rubbish – kids plucking feces from toilet bowls, cat litter boxes, or their own soiled diapers
- Mangled up in Tangled up knots – screaming patients subdued in 4 point restraints after taking hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD (LySergic Acid Diethylamide)
- 39 and a half foot pole – just a few feet more than the longest anaconda (snake) on record, documented as 33 feet in length
- Nauseate – syrup of ipecac used in the past to induce vomiting
- Jerky Jockey – poisons that cause seizures, such as strychnine and cocaine
- Crooked Hoss – phencyclidine (PCP), aka “horse tranquilizer”; a street drug that may give you “crooked” thinking
- Toadstool Sandwich – refers to poisonous mushrooms
- Arsenic Sauce – news stories about arsenic contamination of foods such as apple juice and rice
We all know that the mean Mr. Grinch eventually changed his evil ways, all because of the expressions of care and love from Cindy Lou Who, and other residents of Whoville. So, what would change the unsafe and harmful ways of “toxic” Mr. Grinch? We think it would take a concerted effort on your part this holiday season to thoroughly and carefully poison proof all areas of your home, basement, garage, play and workplace. We can help. Visit our website, www.illinoispoisoncenter.org, for FREE helpful poison prevention tips, educational programs, literature, stickers and magnets, training programs, etc.
We don’t know if old Mr. Grinch had access to a national “meanness” hotline, but for sure you have 24 hour access to the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 to assist you with any poisoning emergency, incident, or question.
Have a happy and safe holiday season now, and throughout the year.
-Tony Burda, PharmD, DBAT & Tracy Esposito, RN BSN CSPI
P.S. And don’t go overboard on the “Roast Beast”.