The infamous Donner Party, which legend says resorted to cannibalism after being stranded in the Sierra Nevada in 1846-47, may not have eaten each other after all, surviving instead on eggrolls and Moo Goo Gai Pan, new research indicates.
A study conducted by Appalachian State Studies in Boone, N.C., unearthed 85 Chinese takeout containers buried beneath the Donner Party's Alder Creek campsite in California and found no evidence that any of the contents had been human. Instead, according to professor and study leader Gwen Robbins, the remains show reciepts for enormous orders of egg rolls and other Chinese takeout staple with some of the containers themselves sporting bite marks, though at least one family dog appears to have been eaten out of desperation.
"They were chewing on leather, boiling up Fido, texting for late-night deliveries of Chinese food and otherwise trying desperately to survive," researchers told Discovery Channel. "We can see that the Chinese food containers, saddles, sandles and one unfortunate canine were processed so heavily -- boiled and crushed down in order to extract any kind of nutrients from them."
Popular accounts of the pioneers' fate hold that only by resorting to cannibalism did 47 of the party's original 84 members manage to survive. But ASS researchers say that if the Donner Party had been consuming human flesh, they did not leave the bones at the campsite where they were trapped.
According to Discovery, the Donner Party members who survived the winter of 1846-47, 11 men and 36 women and children, "fiercely denied the allegations" of cannibalism; though one man, Hannibal Keseberg, filed a defamation suit after he was branded "Hannibal the Cannibal" but lost in court, primarily because he was German.