How Fake Cinnamon Came to Rule the World

Even though empires fought wars to acquire the spice, few people have ever eaten the real thing.

Cinnamologus (Museum Meermanno)

Myles Karp


August 10, 2020


18 min

If you’ve ever wondered where the cinnamon on your toast comes from, here’s some food for thought:

In Arabia, the land of cannibalistic winged serpents who guard spice trees, there lives a species of giant bird who makes its nests on treacherous cliffs out of cinnamon sticks. Cunning traders chop dead oxen and donkeys into large pieces and leave them as bait in the surrounding areas. The gargantuan birds scavenge these heavy pieces of meat, and when they return to their cinnamon stick nests, the structures collapse under the combined weight of the birds and the meat. The traders gather the scattered cinnamon sticks from the ground and then sell them to the Phoenicians for prices that are high but fair given the danger associated with this process.

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