Scenes from a MAL: Buffalo Bill the Proxy Mouse

I know everyone enjoys the posts I put up with snippets from conversation from the Skepchick back channel so I thought I’d share some behind the scenes posts from the Mad Art Lab back channel distribution which is often even more surreal.

From: Steve D
Subject: Who Wants To Test This?

Pepsi’s defense against a lawsuit claiming a dead mouse was found in a can of Mountain Dew is that the mouse would have dissolved.  If I understand correctly, the mouse would have had to have been in the can from 8/2008 to 11/2009 – so 15 months.

Whoever tests this would need:

  • Mountain Dew
  • a sealable container (preferably transparent for observing purposes, a mason jar might do)
  • a recently deceased mouse (or equivalent amount of mouse substitute)
  • a cabinet to store the container in for up to 15 months
  • a strong stomach

Any takers?

From: Anne

Let me forward it to my geneticist friend, whom I believe to at least have regular access to mice.

From: Ryan

We can get frozen mice I think for snake feeding purposes.

I’ll look into it too 🙂

From: Smashley

Trying to think of appropriate mouse substitutes. Frog legs from the grocery store would probably do well because of the thin bones, but there’s no fur.

From: Maki

Given the time frame and what coke will do to a tooth in as little as a few days, I think this is highly plausible. I had seen this on StupidEvilBastard earlier today and was already trying to think of what I could try dissolving for comic purposes. I have some old turtle and squirrel bones around the house. I’d be happy to report what happens to them. For the sake of scientific consistency, what beverage are we using?

From: Maki

Sadly (or not) I have nothing with fur on it. Though I could collect a tuft next time the cats quarrel. Having an actual mouse would be amazing if one of you could do it. I’d hold off on the comic to give the brave mouse melter a mention in it 🙂

From: Cloe

I’m so sorry for this, Maki…

From: Maki

They’re debunking that it would dissolve overnight. Which is crazy in the first place.

But if you put a tooth or an egg in soda for a few days, the egg gets all rubbery and even according to the snopes article, the tooth will eventually dissolve.

From: Anne

FYI, from my friend:

———- Forwarded message ———-
Subject: Re: Who Wants To Test This?
To: Anne

Oh dear. Let me think about it. The short answer is yes, I theoretically could get you a mouse. The long answer is that soaking the remains in mountain dew for 15 months isn’t on the protocol and there might be issues. But the longer answer is that I don’t think they really keep track of what happens to the mice after euthanasia so… theoretically back to yes? As an alternative, I think many pet stores sell mice either as pets or to feed to snakes, for less than 10 bucks. It would just be a matter of killing it then. Er, which I could help with, if you needed it.

Were it me, I would buy a mouse from the pet store, take it back to my apartment, and kill it there, immediately before dunking it into the mountain dew. First of all because necrosis/decomposition starts pretty much as soon as you kill it, and I’d like to have it in the Mtn Dew when rigor mortis kicks in etc. Second of all because carrying a live mouse home seems way less morbid than carrying a dead mouse, even if I’m going to kill it as soon as I get home.

From: Maki

For the sake of consciences, maybe go with the frozen mice? I think most of us here would end up with pet mice if we tried it with the live ones

From: Smashley

Aaaagh I feel very uncomfortable with the thought of one of us killing a live mouse for science. One of the many reasons why I’m not a scientist, presumably.

Oh yeah! I did a tooth-in-soda experiment in fourth grade, except I used orange soda. I think I may have even kept the teeth in the soda for up to two weeks, and besides some major staining, they didn’t really get all that damaged.

From: Maki

It’s also worth noting that cranberry juice is more acidic than soda.

This is gonna end with me making litmus paper out of my girlfriend’s cabbage isn’t it?

From: Steve D

Would a couple chicken wings be a decent analog?

From: Ryan

I think that the fur is important.

I’m gonna hit the pet store on my way home and see if they’ve had any mice or hamsters die today.

From: Smashley

I wish I could film that exchange, Ryan. 😀

From: Donna

Indeed I would get that little one home, lose my nerve, and make it a pet. I’m such a weenie. I vote for the frozen mouse.

From: Amy

STOP with the KILLING MICES. Dont you people know I’m having a bad day. I will give the mouse a home and douse myself in mountain dew.

On a side note I have a whole jar of pure citric acid.

From: Ryan

Hmmm. I’m thinking my roommates might not be keen on this experiment….

Don’t worry Amy, I won’t be killing anything for this.

From: Smashley

What about one of those lucky rabbit feet? Or are those leather cured or something?

From: Ryan

rabbit foot and a chicken wing?

From: Amy


From: Smashley

The only issue with both of those is that mouse bones are SO TINY. Did you guys ever have to dissect an owl pellet in school to get out all the mouse skeletons? Their little rib bones are the size of fingernail clippings.

From: Maria

No matter how this ends, this thread is going to be my first behind the scenes at MAL post 🙂

From: Amy

Also… where is Maria to make this a behind the scenes post???

From: Maria


From: Victor

I think this was done on mythbusters with Steaks and coke. I’ll see if I can find the clip.

From: Smashley


Oh! One other point — snake-feeding mice are hairless. Sad trombone.

From: Victor

And voila. Haven’t located video yet, but here is the text results.

Apparently they only left it in the cola for 48 hours…back to can 1.

From: Maki

Yeah, this mouse was in there for over a year. My squirrel bones are pretty decent sized, the turtle bones are larger, but I treated them with bleach to get the turtle off years ago.

From: Anne

If the objection over using a fresh mouse is that no one wants to perform the act, my friend has offered to buy one at a pet store and perform the euthanasia herself (it is a regular part of her job). If, however the objection is over using anything that’s not already dead, I’m not sure I follow. The pet store mice are bred to be eaten by reptiles, the lab mice are bred to be parts of experiments; I’m not sure how killing a mouse that came from one of those scenarios is worse, besides being squicky.

Would it be better if it were a mouse that was killed for something else in the lab, that we were then repurposing? Too bad it doesn’t sound like that’s within the protocol.

From: Maki

I think it’s the act of being mouse executioner that makes people uneasy 😉 Such an act is forbidden in my home. Audrey once punched through a window to let a fly go. True story!

(Well, she was trying to open the window by hitting the window frame with her hand—which had the fly in it—and she missed)

I could try to make a mouse proxy with bones, meat, and cat hair.

From: Donna

I leave you people alone for an hour and all hell breaks loose here.

“I could try to make a mouse proxy with bones, meat, and cat hair.”

That is so Jame Gumb.

From: Maki

Ted Levine went on to play the chief detective in “Monk” and I could never get Buffalo Bill out of my head when I watched that show.

From: Maria


No wonder watching Monk always left me unsettled.

From: Ryan

I’m going to have to bail on the endeavour. During a sobering drive home, I realized that though I could hide the experiment from my roommates, I could not hide the published results.


From: Donna

…which would make them angry?

From: Maki

Looks like it’s just me and Buffalo Bill, the Proxy Mouse

From: Amy




From: Brian G

For some reason my phone hadn’t updated my email for a while.
My co-worker called me and my phone said “bong!” as the emails pushed thru.
I looked at the email icon. 46 NEW EMAILS?!
What’s going on with my MAL buddies?
*catches up*


Buffalo Bill, the Proxy Mouse? And… and…


From: Maria

Please just don’t let them kill the mouse 🙁

From: Maki

There will be no mice harming. I have squirrel bones and the cats leave fur everywhere.

From: Amy



From: Donna

No mice will be killed on our watch!


And, Brian? All the crazy sh*t is going down at the Lab.

From: Rebecca

“I have squirrel bones.”
-Maki Naro

From: Maki



Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

Related Articles


  1. In case any search engines missed it the first time, Maki Naro has squirrel bones.
    Maki Naro has squirrel bones.
    Maki Naro has squirrel bones.
    Maki Naro has squirrel bones.
    Maki Naro has squirrel bones.

  2. 1) I am supremely pleased that both VIVA YVONNE! and “thanking you” is being liberally spiced onto the madtastic back channel.

    2) Now *I* am sad panda that I am not artistic and creative because all of you people seem too labxurious for words and I would like to write for MadArtLab.

  3. Thanks for the early morning giggle fit! I love you all!

    I think this train left it’s tracks right about here…”I have some old turtle and squirrel bones around the house.” Thx Maki!

  4. You guys, the back channel at Mad Art Lab is one of the supreme joys of my conscious life. Right up there with single malt scotch, black pashmina scarves, fresh mozzarella, and Maker Faire with my MAL buddies. And let me give a huge shout-out to Maria for documenting our silliness and the tensile strength of Maki’s bones. She rocks righteously!

Leave a Reply

Check Also
Back to top button