April 02, 2018
‘Twas the night of Easter Sunday when I got word of an unusual post on Reddit involving the alleged branding of a teenager at Philadelphia’s storied Reading Terminal Market.
Let’s start off with some caveats: The story – complete with a photo of said branding – went live on April Fool’s Day. Also, if it’s real, the commenters maintaining that the "brand" is from the top of a cigarette lighter are totally right.
Redditor “weinerman2594” said his younger brother – described as “started-puberty-not-too-long-ago, stupid-teenager-but-not-old-enough-to-be-that-stupid young” – was walking through Reading Terminal Market “the other day with his friends when he felt a sharp pain on his arm.”
He soon saw a nasty burn on his left forearm. Alas, he did not see anybody nearby holding a brand or other burning implement.
“When he went to urgent care, he was told that it was a second-degree burn and that it would likely leave a scar,” explained weinerman2594, who shared this story in the hope of connecting with others with similar experiences.
“The shape of it is too anomalous to be accidental, but I have no idea what could have done this to him,” continued weinerman2594. “Our mother thinks he was branded as part of some ‘initiation.’”
It is unlikely that weinerman2594’s little brother has sworn lifelong allegiance to the MS-13 gang. But what those who responded to the post did know is that little bro is very likely full of it.
Respondents were quick to suggest that the burn was, in fact, from the top of a lighter and that he either did it himself or had it done by one of his friends. (Some shared links to “lighter burn” photos for edification.)
Weinerman2594, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment from PhillyVoice on Monday, conceded in the thread that he’s “a little suspicious” since it looks like something was held on his arm.
He couldn’t have been drunk, though, “because our mother saw him an hour before he left for the city with his friends and he was back a couple of hours later.”
“It’s absolutely in the realm of possibility that they could have been being stupid and maybe he took a dare or something,” he wrote. “But, he and his friends are genuinely good kids. They make films together, play on the high school Ultimate Frisbee Team, do BuildOn on the weekends, so it doesn't really fit their MO.
“I just posted this under the assumption that he is telling the truth in case this has happened to someone else.”
Well, has it happened to someone else?
For its part, the Philadelphia Police Department wasn't even aware of this incident until our request for further investigation.
Officer Troy Brown of the department's public affairs office said it didn't sound familiar before asking around about it on Monday morning. He subsequently reported that there is "nothing on file with Central Detectives at this time."
The officer said he would keep an eye out for any shady folks who bit that bill when he went to the market later Monday, though.
On behalf of Reading Terminal Market, a spokesman noted that there will be "no formal comment" forthcoming "because, honestly, this is too ridiculous."
He did invite Weinerman2594 or someone on his brother's behalf to reach out to help solve this great mystery.
"The Market does have a fairly extensive camera system," he said, choosing to be identified as a "generic spokesman" rather than by name.
"If he could actually pinpoint the time/location, we would happily look at the tape and see whether we could find anything or ID a suspect," he continued. "But, I'm skeptical it will come to that."
We will keep you apprised of any future developments in the case, dear readers.