The Museum of Hoaxes
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Female thieves hide money in their bras, 1950
Old-Time Photo Fakery, 1900 to 1919
Dead Body of Loch Ness Monster Found, 1972
The Nobody For President Campaign, 1940 to Present
The Lovely Feejee Mermaid, 1842
Lord Gordon-Gordon, robber of the robber barons, 1871
The Hoaxing Hitchhiker, 1941
The Hitler Diary Hoax, 1983
The Cottingley Fairies, 1917
Sober Sue, the woman who never smiled, 1907
Grunge Speak, 1992
In the early 1990s, Grunge emerged as a popular new hard rock musical style. Its characteristic image was of greasy-haired, lumberjack-shirted garage bands playing punk-metal guitar rock. Groups such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney epitomized this new Seattle-based sound.

On November 15, 1992 the New York Times published an article analyzing the roots and evolution of the grunge movement. It theorized that Grungers had embraced greasy hair and lumberjack shirts as a way to rebel against the vanity and flashy style of the eighties. The Times also reported that, just like any self-respecting subculture, the Grungers had developed their own lexicon of "grunge speak."

Grunge terms, according to the Times, included phrases such as Cob Nobbler (a loser), Lamestain (an uncool person), Wack Slacks (old, ripped jeans), and Swingin' on the Flippity-Flop (hanging out).

Three months later, The Baffler, a small, Chicago-based magazine, revealed that the Times had been the victim of a hoax. The grunge terms didn't exist. Megan Jasper of Seattle-based Caroline Records, whom the Times had used as its source for the glossary, had simply made the words up.

The Baffler gloated that "when the Newspaper of Record goes searching for the Next Big Thing and the Next Big Thing piddles on its leg, we think that's funny."

Members of the grunge band Mudhoney later began using the fake terms satirically during interviews. The New York Times dismissed the prank as 'irritating.'

Links and References
  • Rick Marin, "Grunge: A Success Story," New York Times, November 15, 1992, Section 9, Page 1;
  • "Those Cob Nobblers at the N.Y. Times," Globe and Mail, March 5, 1993, Section C1.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.