© The Picture Pantry / Alamy Stock Photo
Clara Olshansky
June 22, 2017

Forget what your organic friend who keeps pushing Zico on you says; there is such thing as too much coconut. In 1898, August Engelhardt, a young German nudist swept up in Germany's back-to-nature reform movement, co-wrote a pamphlet advising everybody to eat only coconut. Engelhardt believed that, since it grew high in trees, the coconut was favored by God, and, since it had hairs, the coconut was like a person. After living on an island and operating a cult for some time, Engelhardt died 44 years old, 66 pounds, rheumatic, and ulcerous.

Engelhardt believed all other foods were tainted. In his pamphlet, he envisioned a new, more spiritual society in which he would be the naked ruler of all the cocovores, and together they would worship the sun. He ultimately did end up founding his coconut-eating cult, The Order of the Sun, on the island of Kabakon in what is now Papua New Guinea. Of the Order's fifteen plus members, some died and others abandoned the group, disease-ridden and disillusioned. However, even after the German government banned people from following Engelhardt, he continued to live his mono-diet lifestyle.

Engelhardt spent part of World War I as a prisoner of Australia, after which he returned immediately to his coconut paradise in Kabakon. He was found dead on the shore in 1919. He'd once assured his followers that coconut would solve everything, including malaria. Now it had killed him. Turns out coconut doesn't fix everything.

[h/t NPR]

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