Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Holy grilled cheese sandwich! What is pareidolia?

By Kevin Brooks

A few quirks of neural processing explain why religious devotees can see the face of the Virgin Mary in a slice of toast.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

How much would you pay for a grilled cheese sandwich?
$6? Maybe $7, if it was deliciously fresh and you were really hungry?

In 2004, Diane Duyser from Florida, USA sold a ten-year-old grilled cheese sandwich for US$28,000. And the reason for the 4,000-fold inflation?

Would you pay US$28,000 for this? *ivo*

This particular snack showed a pattern of browning that Ms. Duyser claimed resembled the Virgin Mary. Others agreed enough to create a news story that reached across the globe, piquing the interest of eBay bidders with deep pockets.

Religious icons have a habit of turning up in the most unlikely places. In recent years, the Virgin Mary has also been spotted in a pretzel that sold for US$10,600 and in a wooden stump near the cliffs in the Sydney suburb of Coogee (“Our Lady of the Fence Post”), while Mother Theresa has appeared in a cinnamon roll (the “...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.