Though it's no secret that dead bodies were once used in bizarre early medicine practices, not many know that there are quite a few modern products made out of corpses out there, as well. As it turns out, the dead are still an active part of various industries that go way beyond the mortuary world and the "posthumous fame" phenomenon.
Take, for instance, eau de death, the innovative perfume that's said to be partially distilled from corpse emissions. Or other corpse products like "occult jam," made by London company Bompas & Parr, which is rumored to contain the delectable flavor of the hair of the late Princess Diana. Contemporary medical science has proven that products made out of dead bodies have healing properties. Like cadaver skin, which can be (and frequently is) used to treat burns and ulcers in the form of skin grafts.
We've hardly pried the lid off the coffin of commercial, medical, and artistic services the dead can apparently provide. Read on to discover more about contemporary corpse products you might wish you never knew about, when all's said and done.
Human Leather For Those With Refined Tastes
Forget your elegant buckskin or patent leather. UK company Humanleather.com is one up on both of the above. As the organization's official website rather snootily puts it, "Just like animal leather products produced from lesser animals, our raw human skin is transformed into the finest grade leather by using a traditional tanning process. However, human leather is the finest grain leather that is obtainable. It is free from defects and has the smallest grain size, which makes it the smoothest, softest leather on earth."
The company obtains their materials from "People who have bequeathed their skins to us prior to their deaths." Moreover, they hasten to assure buyers that the process is completely legal, not to mention ultra-discriminating ("we've had to turn away some potential donors, as we can accept only the highest quality human skin."). Whose skin is anyone's guess, as they can't legally disclose who donated their hide to the cause. (It's safe to assume that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Leatherface isn't an authorized supplier, though).
Perfume Made From Chemicals Emitted By Corpses
Shows like The Walking Dead introduced us to myriad creative ways of warding off the deceased (smearing corpse-guts on oneself to mask one's scent, for example). But Eau de Death cologne represents a far more revolutionary approach than that. This intriguing concept comes to us from chemist Raychelle Burks of Doane College in Nebraska.
According to Burks, "If we’re really trying to mimic a corpse, we have got to get the smell down to perfection. Nobody wants to be the guinea pig that spritzes on the death cologne and realizes it doesn't’ quite work."
As Burk explains, "putrescine and cadaverine are the main ingredients, which are emitted early on in the decaying process. Both organic chemical compound are produced by the breakdown of amino acids in living and dead organisms and are toxic in large doses. They are largely responsible for the foul odor of putrefying flesh, but also contribute to bad breath, and can be found in semen. Methanethiol, which smells like rotten eggs, is also added to the 'perfume' to create its offensive bouquet."
Just call it six degrees (read: six feet) of separation between corpses, semen, and bad breath.
Cosmetics Made From The Corpses Of Executed Chinese Prisoners
As it turns out, the fountain of youth may actually spring from the dead. According to the Guardian, a Chinese company is developing cosmetic products ... made from the corpses of deceased/executed prisoners ... to market in Europe. In other words, your next collagen treatment, facial filler, or lip-pumping injection just might be composed of corpse-fat.
Though this news has incited a predictable outcry, the firm's agents insist that only "some" of the company's products have been exported to the UK, and that the whole thing is nothing to "make such a big fuss about," anyway. After all, beauty is pain, as the old saying goes, so perhaps dead body ingredients are just par for the corpse.
Jam Made From Princess Diana's Hair
London-based company Bompas and Parr might be "globally recognized as the leading expert in multi-sensory experience design," as their website states, but they're also apparently pioneers in the imaginative use of corpse-hair. In 2010, the company manufactured something called "Occult Jam," which supposedly contained a few strands of the late Princess Diana's hair.
No, the tresses didn't come off the Princess's corpse. Co-founder Sam Bompas claims to have acquired them on e-Bay. Nevertheless, as CNN puts it, "what started out as art itself has become a product with a lot of major retailers."