Did college girls suffocate themselves baking cookies?

I’m feeling very industrious and productive this evening. I’ve had these urban legends rolling around in my head for several years, and today I finally decided to submit them to the snopes check.

The first one was about the young lady who, wanting an express-tan, visited every tanning parlor in her vicinity over the course of a week, bypassing safety precautions about how much time is okay to spend in a tanning bed, with the result that she cooked her internal organs, and died after noticing that she was smelling like a leftover pot roast tht had been left out on the counter for a few days. I never really believed this one, but I also never bothered to look up the debunking on snopes. Until today (it’s false, of course).

The other one, I heard about twenty-five or so years ago. It involved a group of coeds living in a dormitory apartment at a university someplace that gets a lot of snow. The young ladies (so went the story) were spending a winter afternoon baking cookies to give out as Christmas gifts. Because it was cold and snowy outside, they had all of the windows in their apartment shut. Prior to putting each new batch of cookies on the cookie sheet, they would spray the sheet with Pam.

After several hours of this, they had effectively coated their alveoli with cooking spray, and they all died of suffocation.

Yes, I’m sure it’s a bullshit story, but I’m curious to know why I’ve not seen it debunked on snopes.

Has anyone here ever heard this (or a similar) story? Where does one turn for the debunking?

Also: What’s the standard procedure for getting a potential urban legend evaluated on snopes?

Also again: is this the right forum for discussing urban legends, or should this have gone into MPSIMS?

Coeds? WTF is a code?

The term “coed” (sometimes “co-ed”) is typically used to describe a female student at a coeducational university (one that accepts both men and women as students).

It’s a little dated, but I don’t look at it as archaic.

plz send me teh coeds

There is such a thing as lipid (or lipoid) pneumonia which one might conceivably contract in that manner. However, humans are averse to suffocation and tend to do something – often something dramatic – at the first sign of it. It’s hard to imagine someone not leaving the room long before death is imminent.

You get the coeds and I get stuck with the cookies. Yum.

The cooking spray lands on the pan. The spray that’s airborne lands on objects quickly. They would have to be huffing it in plastic bags to suffocate themselves.

My guess is that it’s not a mainstream UL. I"ve never heard of it(not that I’m a judge of what’s out there).

Go over to the message board and post it, or just email snopes and ask about it.

It’s the correct forum, at least to me. And, since I’m the one that would move it, I say it can stay.

Thanks for the responses. I hadn’t considered that there might exist different classes of UL distribution.

Lipoid pneumonia is typical among older people who ingest mineral oil for their digestion, and aspirate some. Most commonly it is in the lower lung and looks like a standard penumonia on chest x-ray, only revealing its low density on CT. Cooking spray would be an aerosol, and before you could inhale a enough to cause a lipoid pneumonia, you’d be in a PAM fog. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis can be a more rapid cause of severe lung disease, but again, it is rare, usually requires some length of exposure, and is somewhat idiosyncratic in presentation. For a bunch of women all to be exposed, and all to die would require some serious concentration of cooking spray.

Yeah, well that was what the story described, a PAM fog.

Trst me, yre btter eff wid da chzz brgr

Pam Fogg… I miss that girl.

… ergo, they must have been huffing it in plastic bags. Those crazy college kids! tsk

kaylasdad99 writes:

> I hadn’t considered that there might exist different classes of UL distribution.

I’m not sure what you mean by different classes. There are thousands of urban legends out there, even if we limit ourselves to the U.S. Some are well known all around the U.S. Some of them never spread beyond a small group. It’s not surprising then that snopes might not have yet written a debunking of some of them. Perhaps they haven’t heard of that particular urban legend yet. That makes it all the more important that you send it to snopes then.

That is a sad story.

Still, the cloud might have a silver lining. Let’s hope the corpses were discovered in time to save the cookies from terminal deterioration. Some people won’t even think about eating cookies if they haven’t been kept in optimum storage conditions.

I don’t think it would be possible to form a fog of PAM under these circumstances, and I doubt any normal, non-suicidal, smart-enough-to-be-in-college group of women would persist making cookies after a PAM fog formed.

  • How many cookie sheets can they spray? 2-3 per cooking cycle? And there would be 20 minutes between cookie trays, during which the small amount of aerosol from each spraying each sheet would rapidly precipitate and land.
  • Dorm kitchens may have the windows closed, but any normal person would notice the fog and open a door. There is usually good air circulation in dorms regardless.
  • Long before this became a medical emergency, they would be coughing and leaving the kitchen.
  • The smoke detectors would go off.

I’ll see if I can find any Pubmed citation regarding cooking spray and lung disease.

Are you sure the use of Pam was causal and not incidental to their suffocation? A (presumably) small room with several occupants and (presumably) poor ventilation with the windows all closed, maybe they were overcome by carbon monoxide or some other condition?

Yes, my suggestion isn’t very plausible, but neither is suffocating from use of Pam in this scenario.

Until you get to the very end of the can, PAM is pretty wet and heavy. It wouldn’t be hanging around in the air, no matter how much you sprayed.

It’s worth mentioning that, if this UL started long enough ago, the constituents of Pam cooking spray would have been considerably nastier than they are today. Real CFCs and probably silicone or something. And some kind of solvent. I remember the stuff didn’t smell nice.