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Taking a bite out of Olympic gold: Athletes try to eat their medals

Toru Hanai / Reuters

France's Teddy Riner (2nd L) bites his gold medal as silver medallist Russia's Alexander Mikhaylin (L) and bronze medallists Brazil's Rafael Silva and Germany's Andreas Toelzer (R) look at him at the victory ceremony for the men's judo event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Aug. 3.

David Gray / Reuters

Ryan Lochte of the U.S. bites his gold medal for the men's 400m individual medley during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 28.

Elsa / Getty Images

Silver medalist Maria Sharapova of Russia, gold medalist Serena Williams of the United States and bronze medalist Victoria Azarenka of Belarus pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the gold medal match of the Women's Singles Tennis on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on Aug. 4,in London, England.

Suhaib Salem / Reuters

China's Xiaojun Lu bites his gold medal at the podium of the men's 77Kg weightlifting competition at the ExCel venue at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Aug 1.

What does an Olympic medal taste like? Universally, the next step for athletes fresh off the podium seems to be to pose for photographers while feigning to take a "bite" out of their new medals. As we edit through thousands of Olympics photos, we often roll our eyes at these staged, awkward photos that stand out from the genuine emotional moments of the athletes or peak action moments as they compete for Olympic glory.

Why on earth does an athlete want to bite into their medal? They can't possibly think they are actually made of chocolate? Well, Meghan Holohan looked into this phenomenon and answered our questions:

The simple answer: Because the photographers ask them to, says David Wallechinsky, president of the International Society of Olympic Historians and author of “The Complete Book of the Olympics, via email.

While Olympic historians aren’t sure which athlete started the trend, they believe the athletes nibble their prizes to test the metal. People once bit gold coins try to make an indent; a small tooth mark in a coin assured it consisted of real gold, which is more malleable than counterfeit gold-plated lead coins.

Read the full story.

Damir Sagolj / Reuters

South Korea's Hyeonwoo Kim bites his gold medal at the podium of Men's 66Kg Greco-Roman wrestling at the ExCel venue during the London 2012 Olympic Games on Aug. 7.

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Martin Bureau / AFP - Getty Images

Russia's Natalia Ishchenko and Russia's Svetlana Romashina bite their medals after winning gold in the duets free routine final during the synchronised swimming competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Aug. 7, in London.

Matt Dunham / AP

U.S. gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, Alexandra Raisman, Gabrielle Douglas and Jordyn Wieber bite their gold medals at the Artistic Gymnastics women's team final at the 2012 Summer Olympics, on July 31, in London.

Adrees Latif / Reuters

China's coach Daniel Levasseur pretends to bite the gold medal of Yujie Sun next to team mate Xiaojuan Luo during the women's epee team fencing competition victory ceremony at the ExCel venue at the London 2012 Olympic Games, on Aug 4.

Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

Silver medalist Michael Tinsley of the United States and gold medalist Felix Sanchez of Dominican Republic bite the medals on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's 400m Hurdles final on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on Aug. 6, in London, England

Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters

Silver medallist Italy's Massimo Fabbrizi pretends to bite his medal at the men's trap shooting victory ceremony at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Royal Artillery Barracks Aug. 6.