The Grunch: A Chupacabra on the Louisiana Bayou
The Grunch, otherwise known as the Grunch Road Monster and many other titles—none of those being the Grinch, just so there's no confusion—is a New Orleans–based legend. It is thought to be related to the Chupacabra legend and is sometimes described as a cross between the dog and reptilian types of Chupacabra sightings.
Origins: Grunch Road or the Devil Baby?
The Grunch is one of the many cryptids with varying origin stories.
Variations on the Grunch Road Story
One such story tells of a time when New Orleans was a fairly new city, still mostly undeveloped. During this time, there was an old road in the eastern suburbs that went mostly unnoticed. This mysterious road led to a dead end and a thicket of woods. In those woods lived a group of albinos and dwarves who had been forced to retreat to this hiding spot because they were thought to be creations of the devil, and thus could not live with the rest of "normal" society. This group eventually inbred and combined their deformities, and their descendants went mad and turned into an inhuman creature known as the Grunch.
At some later date, the road was labeled Grunch Road—the location of which is disputed, though it's most likely in Eastern New Orleans—and everyone forgot about it until farm animals, and later people, began disappearing, and reports of strange creatures roaming the woods along the road started. This is a particularly gross legend for a number of reasons I most likely don't have to explain, but I'm just reporting the folklore here.
A variation on the above legend adds that the group in the woods sold their souls to the Devil in order to gain a protector in return. They would torture and sacrifice animals in order to maintain this protection. And yet another added detail states that if you travel along Grunch Road, wherever it may actually be, you may see a stray injured goat. If you leave your car to help the poor animal, the Grunch will come to drain your blood and devour your body.
Marie Laveau and the Devil Baby
A completely different origin story for the Grunch relates the creature to Marie Laveau and the Devil Baby. It is said that the Voodoo Queen herself accidentally created the Grunch after castrating the Devil Baby in order to stop him from reproducing. His testicles then turned into a male and female Grunch, and they then attacked and almost killed her. Marie Laveau fainted, and when she awoke, the Devil Baby and the Grunches had disappeared.
Another variation on this legend says that anyone who is bitten by the Devil Baby will turn into a Grunch during the full moon, similar to a werewolf.
It's possible that the Grunch is just a regional variation on the Chupacabra legend, as the two creatures are very similarly described. The Grunch is usually said to be a goat-like creature that stands three to four feet tall, with leathery or scaly black-gray skin, sharp spines, and long horns or quills along its back. It is sometimes reported to have glowing eyes, either red-orange or blue-green depending on the source. It's said to drain all of an animal's blood, and occasionally even full organs, through a single hole.
Most of that sounds pretty familiar, right?
Differences Between the Grunch and Chupacabra
Here's where the Grunch starts to branch out from the traditional Chupacabra myth, however. The creature is said to have human-like capabilities and be able to open doors and use tools, similar to primates—though it has also been said to be able to phase through walls, thus rendering this door-opening ability a bit pointless. The Grunch is also said to have a wolf-like howl, a banshee scream, or a screech like an ape when alarmed, depending on who's telling it. Sometimes it's even reported to be able to speak in a low growl.
The Grunch is reported to have a strong stench about it, reminiscent of Bigfoot reports. Some witnesses have stated that the creature had bat-like wings and a tail, while others have said it had long fur and a black, silky coat spotted with gray coloring.
The earliest reports of Grunch sightings supposedly date back to the early 1800s, with a drop off in the 1980s and a revival in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. The common explanation for the later sightings is that the Grunches were flushed out of their habitats during the hurricane, and they later took up residence in nearby neighborhoods in New Orleans and the surrounding areas.
One recent supposed sighting came from a woman in Harvey, Louisiana, who claimed she saw a Grunch eating one of her neighbor's dogs. Also in Harvey, residents say they've seen it knocking over trashcans and chasing cats. Local sanitation workers have supposedly reported seeing them raiding garbage cans or chasing trucks.
It's pretty likely these sightings, if they actually occurred, were just mangy raccoons, though admittedly that explanation wouldn't account for the devoured dog.
So does the Grunch exist, and if so, is it one of many descendants of a Satanic cult of outcasts in the woods, or the severed testicles of a demon?
More than likely the answer is no, and that the Grunch is just one of many regional legends piggybacking off of the ever-popular Chupacabra story. But as with most cryptids, that doesn't necessarily make the story less interesting to explore.