The creepy letter and the vacant lot it references

Updated Feb. 19

A strange letter started circulating around Philly’s Fairmount neighborhood this weekend. The note, dropped in people’s mailboxes or door slots, tries to make residents aware that all the digested meat they’ve eaten is still alive in them, 365 days a year, and the only way to stop this is to become a steel statue.

Confused? So is pretty much anyone who hears about it. The nonsensical letter is going viral, getting turned into dozens of reddit memes that are also making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook.

Reached by phone Monday morning, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police said the department hadn’t received any related reports from investigators, or from the 9th or 22nd police precincts — both of which include sections of the neighborhood, including Brewerytown, where the note was reportedly distributed.

“The reports that I get from the detective division, I haven’t seen anything in reference to that,” said Officer Miguel Torres. “I haven’t heard anything at all.”

Torres encouraged recipients to report the letter to police — with as much specific information as possible. “Report it,” Torres said. “Whatever it is, report it, just in case there’s a formal investigation or report done.”

The letter isn’t exactly threatening. But it is creepy.

It suggests, basically, that all the meat you’ve eaten since you were a kid will lead to your ultimate, firey demise. You can apparently avoid all that by melting your body with metal and being turned into a statue, “unable to be hurt.”

The first step to salvation: Attend a meeting that has been organized for April 27, 2019, at the vacant lot at 27th and Girard. “Do attend,” the letter-writer asserts as a signoff. (See below for the full text.)

Who’s distributing these sketchy handouts? Videos and photos have surfaced that appear to show a man passing them out.

A reporter from Technically Philly asked the person who posted the security cam footage if it was their house, and got a cryptic response: “No, but I know all about it.”

Reddit users, always ready to play detective, have suggested the person might be experiencing homelessness or mental health issues. Via the newly sprung Furnace Party subreddit, folks have used this viral incident to organize a $1,000 fundraiser for the city-funded Philadelphia Mental Health Clinic.

Technically also noted it could potentially be guerrilla marketing from a new restaurant in the neighborhood.

Philly’s new favorite meme

Though the distributor has yet to be actually identified, the content of the letter is being appropriated by amused people all over the internet.

There’s now a Facebook event for that vacant lot furnace festival at 27th and Girard, for example — to which a Phoenix, Arizona, resident has humbly requested a telecommuting alternative for folks who can’t make it in person.

Part of the attraction likely has to do with the unique and easily recognizable phrases in the original writing. It’s similar to a recent explosion of a meme about “generously buttered noodles,” which appropriated a phrase from an NYT Cooking recipe and turned it into social media fodder.

In this case, one person turned the letter into a DIY horror movie, complete with security footage and a Fyre Festival reference.

YouTube video

Some say the steel furnace propaganda deserves permanent commemoration alongside the rest of the city’s historic events.

It’s providing some advance material for when this whole shebang inevitably becomes an Always Sunny episode.

Never a bad time for a Philly development burn.

Ah yes, imagine the satisfying clickety-clack of the 30th Street Station flippy board as it rolled to display this informative literature on all the dead animal remains that live inside your body, from first grade to now.

Credit: Reddit user GrandpaSquarepants

The letter is also infiltrating other popular memes, like the “distracted boyfriend.”

Whatever is going on, Philly social media users are here for it.

The creepy letter, transcribed


This is to inform you that all the food ate since first grade is alive in your body, especially the dead animal remains or meat since it was cooked alive and is alive in your body. Anywhere it goes now, you must go with it. That’s 365 days a year from first grade to now.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Also, newborn baby received your first grade body, or a meal just like the 365 days a year.

Breakfast  Lunch  Dinner

The only way I see for you to save yourself from the every which a way of being burned alive

That’s scheduled is to become a solid steel statue by place yourself under anesthesia

and mixing your body with melted metal then re solidifying the metal or seal yourself in cement.

When it becomes real to you, you can type it up and have a lot of copies made, then pass them out and post them up.

What is needed is a steel furnace where metal can be melted and the bodies of people and animals mixed with the metal to become steel unable to be hurt.

Of course, you’ll be sedated first.

There will b a meeting on April 27, 2019 12 o’clock in the afternoon on the subject of building a steel furnace at 27th and Girard Ave. on the vacant lot.

What we need is a bulldozer to dig some ditches and steel furnace equipment.

Do attend.

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...