There's nothing unusual about food cravings during pregnancy— studies show up to 90 percent of pregnant women experience them. But Vicky Jacob-Ebbinghaus and Juarez Rodrigues have uncovered—and recreated—75 of the strangest pregnancy cravings from around the globe for their new book, Pickles and Ice Cream.
The project began when a friend admitted to eating Oreos with toothpaste during pregnancy. The duo wondered what other concoctions desperate moms-to-be were whipping up. After a year of research and sorting through 50,000 submissions, they created a hilarious cookbook from their findings, complete with artfully-staged photos of each masterpiece, like this one:
Below are 10 cravings, complete with an explanation from the women who ate every bite. Not that pregnant women need to justify their cravings. They just want you to know that an overwhelming urge to nibble on burnt matches, for example, doesn't make them crazy.
The Edible (If You Dare)
Hot Dogs With Peanut Butter Dip
"Basically I craved peanut butter but didn't want the sweet taste people pair it with, like fresh fruit or jelly. I wanted something salty and hot. I would try to play it off and eat a bite of apple dipped in peanut butter followed by a bite of a hot dog. One day, I ran out of apple. So I did what I finally wanted to and I dipped my hot dog in the peanut butter and took a giant bite. It was delicious! I've learned that weird flavors pass on. My oldest two children are obsessed with peanut butter, and adore putting cheese on their PB&Js. I'm actually pregnant with my third and can't stand peanut butter now though."
—Nikki, San Diego, California
Steak With Ice Cream
"I was craving something that would fill me up and steak happened to pop up on the TV. But I didn't want something that was hot, so I put ice cream on top. I had to have it at least once a week for about two months. The father of my child thought it was revolting and refused to watch me eat it."
—Olivia, Greenville, South Carolina
"When I was pregnant, I truly thought this was the greatest thing I had ever eaten. Being previously trained as a chef, I had tasted my fair share of culinary delights, but this one topped them all. My strange craving came out when I was hungry. I knew I hadn't been eating the best so I was thinking about something healthy. A salad sandwich came to mind. I wasn't so sure about the lettuce, though. Maybe just bread, cheese, BBQ sauce, cucumber and BEETROOT! I already love beetroot but as soon as the word entered my head I had to have it NOW! Forget the rest of the sandwich. That amazing earthy flavor. I still wanted the BBQ sauce though and thus my strange craving was born. I ate it every day for lunch for weeks, sometimes more than once and snacked on it throughout the day. I had to have at least one tin of beetroot a day minimum."
—Jessica, Adelaide, Australia
"I couldn't decide if I wanted spaghetti or cherries. So I decided to mix the cherries with the spaghetti. It was love at first bite. My husband thought it was strange. Five years later and he will still mention it every time we have spaghetti."
—Leanne, British Columbia, Canada
Popsicles And Mustard
"I was obsessed with mustard while pregnant but also had nine months of morning/noon/night sickness so I had to eat lolly ices to ensure I had some fluid intake. My little girl was born with blonde hair, which then turned a vibrant red on her second day—I blame the mustard."
—Laura, Liverpool, England
Tomato Soup With M&Ms
"The idea honestly just popped into my head as I was sitting at work answering phones. My job was at a resort, and the kitchen staff was extremely helpful during my pregnancy. They made a lunch 'special' for me. When I first tried it, this weird feeling of full body satisfaction occurred. The taste was wonderful while pregnant...a good combination of bitter and sweet. It was my midnight snack for at least a month."
—Nicole, Thomasville, North Carolina
The Irresistibly Inedible
"I lived in a predominantly Victorian housing area. As I walked past old buildings, the smell of delicious earthiness would be irresistible. I would pick at the stone and collect little pieces to lick and crunch between my teeth. There was an old school wall that had a particular crumbly texture that I liked to go to. Interestingly, my mum had a craving for mud—the dried stuff that used to be left on potatoes when you brought them home from the green grocers. She would lick the mud off the potatoes. So odd cravings must run in the family."
—Clair, Bristol, England
See more on this type of craving, called pica, here.
"The craving came out of nowhere when I was lighting a candle with a match. I always quite liked the smell of matches, but suddenly it smelled delicious and I was dying to taste it. It was the weirdest feeling. I remember holding the burnt match up to my nose and inhaling deeply. My mouth was watering, but there were other people around and I didn't want them to think I was nuts. I couldn't stop thinking about it though, so when I was alone I lit another one and touched it with the tip of my tongue just to see what it was like. Before I knew it, I was chewing on it. It was indescribably good. I carried a personal stash of matches in my handbag from then on. Although I ate them a lot, I always spat them out into a tissue instead of swallowing—I may be crazy but i'm not that crazy."
—Kerry, Cape Town, South Africa
"I was feeding my dog one day and the dog food smelled great. When I first tasted it, it was sort of one of those 'awww' moments when you eat something you have been wanting for a really long time. After I had my son I tried it again, and let's just say I definitely wasn't pregnant anymore! I don't know what I was thinking. But back then I would get a Ziploc bag and take the pieces I wanted to eat so I could have it anytime on the go. My whole family thought it was pretty disgusting; my mom even bought a different brand to discourage me from eating it."
—Elizabeth, San Antonia, Texas
Medley Of Soaps
"I have always loved the smell of soap like a lot of people do, but during each of my four pregnancies I was overcome with the urge to lick of bite bars of soap. Although the taste of it would make my cough after a while and could get quite overpowering, I just couldn't stop. There were a few times I would grate the soap like cheese and nibble it, even putting it on toast or crackers like a topping. I would say I ate it at least three times a week, not too often as it caused heartburn after too much. Most other people thought I was totally nuts except other women who had also experienced the same craving."
—Jannel, Northumberland, England
For recipes and even more outlandish cravings, check out Pickles And Ice Cream, available now from Running Press.