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Darwin Awards
1999 Urban Legends
Email a Friend The following stories are apocryphal. They are included on the Darwin Awards website because they are inspirational narratives of the astounding efforts of legendary Darwin Awards contenders. Next
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Hydrogen Beer Disaster  
1999 Urban Legend

(1999, Tokyo) The recent craze for hydrogen beer is at the heart of a three-way lawsuit between unemployed stockbroker Toshira Otoma, the Tike-Take karaoke bar, and the Asaka Beer Corporation. Mr. Otoma is suing the bar and the brewery for selling toxic substances, and is claiming damages for grievous bodily harm leading to the loss of his job. The bar is counter-suing for defamation and loss of customers.

The Asaka Beer corporation brews "Suiso" brand beer, in which the carbon dioxide normally used to add fizz has been replaced by the more environmentally friendly hydrogen gas. Two side effects of the hydrogen gas have made the beer extremely popular at karaoke sing-along bars and discotheques.

First, because hydrogen molecules are lighter than air, sound waves are transmitted more rapidly, so individuals whose lungs are filled with the nontoxic gas can speak with an uncharacteristically high voice. Exploiting this quirk of physics, chic urbanites can now sing soprano parts on karaoke sing-along machines after consuming a big gulp of Suiso beer.

Second, the flammable nature of hydrogen has also become a selling point, though it should be noted that Asaka has not acknowledged that this was a deliberate marketing ploy.

The beer has inspired a new fashion of blowing flames from one's mouth using a cigarette as an ignition source. Many new karaoke videos feature singers shooting blue flames in slow motion, while flame contests take place in pubs everywhere. "Mr. Otoma has no one to blame but himself. If he had not become drunk and disorderly, none of this would have happened. Our security guards undergo the most careful screening and training before they are allowed to deal with customers," said Mr. Takashi Nomura, Manager of the Tike-Take bar.

"Mr. Otoma drank fifteen bottles of hydrogen beer in order to maximize the size of the flames he could belch during the contest. He catapulted balls of fire across the room that Godzilla would be proud of, but this was not enough to win him first prize since the judgment is made on the quality of the flames and the singing, and after fifteen bottles of lager he was badly out of tune."

"He took exception to the result and hurled blue fireballs at the judge, singeing the front of a female judge's hair and entirely removing her eyebrows and lashes, and ruining the clothes of two nearby customers. None of these people have returned to my bar. When our security staff approached Mr. Otoma, he turned his attentions to them, making it almost impossible to approach him. Our head bouncer had no choice but to hurl himself at Mr. Otoma's knees, knocking his legs from under him."

"The laws of physics are not to be disobeyed, and the force that propelled Mr. Otoma's legs backwards also pivoted around his center of gravity and moved his upper body forward with equal velocity. It was his own fault that he had his mouth open for the next belch, his own fault that he held a lighted cigarette in front of it, and his own fault that he swallowed that cigarette."

"The Tike-Take bar takes no responsibility for the subsequent internal combustion, rupture of his stomach lining, nor the third degree burns to his esophagus, larynx and sinuses as the exploding gases forced their way out of his body. Mr. Otoma's consequential muteness and loss of employment are his own fault."

Mr. Otoma was unavailable for comment

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