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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Urban Legends
Collecting Junk For Charity
Posted by The Curator on Thu May 04, 2006
Status: Urban Legend The Oroville Mercury Register has an interesting article about the lost art of saving— how people don't save stuff the way they used to. A lot of people, myself included, save rubber bands and plastic bags in order to reuse them, but back in the old days it was common to religiously save string and tinfoil. The tinfoil, in particular, was a bit of a mystery since it never seemed to be reused. It would just accumulate, the ball of it growing larger and larger over the years. The author of the article (I can't find a byline) also notes the…
Categories: Urban Legends Comments (24)
Chapstick Lets You Cheat on Scantron Tests
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 11, 2006
Status: Urban Legend Here's an odd urban legend that I just stumbled across. Supposedly if you smear chapstick down the side of a scantron sheet (the kind used for standardized tests such as the SAT), the grading machine will mark all your answers correct. The theory is that the chapstick will interfere with the scanning light, confusing it into thinking that your answers are correct. Needless to say, this doesn't work. Some guy named Richard Mangahas has written a short article detailing all kinds of theories about ways to cheat on scantron tests, including: marking or deleting the black lines along the side of the page, filling in the bubbles with cross-hatches, or…
Categories: Technology, Urban Legends Comments (37)
The Tongue Map
Posted by The Curator on Sun Feb 26, 2006
Status: Urban Legend One of the many catalogs I receive is the Wine Enthusiast. On the inside cover of the catalog I received last week is a description of Symphony Stemware wine glasses which are supposedly "designed and shaped to enhance the best characteristics of every wine." Accompanying this claim is a map of the tongue with the following caption: "The specially designed shape of each glass directs the flow of wine to the proper areas of your palate, emphasizing a wine's best qualities and creating a balanced taste for maximum enjoyment." Symphony…
Categories: Food, Urban Legends Comments (30)
Philippine Urban Legends (Jose Rizal was Jack the Ripper)
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 22, 2006
Status: urban legends An article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer records some Philippine urban legends: the "White Lady" of Balete Drive, Robina Gokongwei's "snake twin" lurking in department store dressing rooms, the elusive "kapre" that lives in an ancient mango tree near the Emilio Aguinaldo house in Kawit town, and Andres Bonifacio's love child from a place aptly named Libog (now Santo Domingo) in Albay province. None of those mean much to me. But most of the article is devoted to discussing two other Philippine legends that are of more general interest. The first one is that Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, "was the father of Adolf Hitler, the result of an indiscretion with…
Popular Myths in Science
Posted by The Curator on Sat Feb 18, 2006
Status: Urban Legends LiveScience.com has a list of the 20 Most Popular Myths in Science. Included in the list are classics such as these: It takes seven years to digest gum. Hair and fingernails continue growing after death. A penny dropped from the top of a tall building could kill a pedestrian. Humans use only 10 percent of their brains. You get less wet by running in the rain. Eating a poppy seed bagel mimics opium use. Oddly enough, they also throw a few strange-but-true items into this list of myths, such as these: Chickens can live without a head. Yawning is…
Categories: Science, Urban Legends Comments (17)
Comic Book Urban Legends
Posted by The Curator on Mon Feb 13, 2006
The Comics Should Be Good blog is creating a database of comic book urban legends. I don't recognize all the names and characters referred to, but it makes for interesting reading anyway. Here's a few samples (full explanations for all of these at Comics Should Be Good): Wolverine's costume was patterned in part on the uniforms of the Michigan Wolverines football team. (False) Joker was originally killed off in his SECOND appearance! (True) Wolverine was initially intended to be a genetically mutated wolverine. (True) Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston invented the polygraph test! (False) Marvel Comics licenses the use of the…
Is Lip Balm Addictive?
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jan 24, 2006
Status: Undetermined There's an old urban legend that states that the makers of lip balm (Carmex, specifically), add ground-up fiberglass to their product. The glass irritates people's lips, causing them to feel like they need to apply the balm again and again. There's another urban legend that states that lip balm interferes with the moisture sensors in the lips, causing lips to become dry and requiring more lip balm to be applied. Neither of these urban legends is true. Carmex debunks the fiberglass myth on their website, and the moisture sensor one is false because there are no such thing as moisture sensors in the lips. (At least, not ones that regulate the moisture levels of the…
Campus Urban Legends
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jan 19, 2006
Status: urban legends The Auburn Plainsman (student paper of Auburn University) has a short article about campus urban legends. The ones they list are: Endowment from old lady bans sorority houses: This UL seems to exist on every college campus that doesn't have sorority houses. It states that some rich old woman left a large sum of money to the college on the condition that they ban sorority houses, because she considered them to be brothels. The more likely reality, among those schools that have sororities but no sorority houses, is that women used to be required to live on campus. Once that rule was lifted, it was cheaper for sorority members to live…
Categories: Places, Urban Legends Comments (33)
Are Santa’s Reindeer Female? (An update)
Posted by The Curator on Mon Dec 26, 2005
Status: Debunking an urban legend Last year there was some discussion on the site about the gender of Santa's reindeer. The theory (as stated in an email that was doing the rounds) is that Santa's reindeer all have to be female because male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, whereas female reindeer retain their antlers until the spring. Big Gary, who's wintering in Alaska, has sent along this photo of "a bull reindeer in Fairbanks, Alaska, this Wednesday, December 21, 2005," which pretty much settles the question of whether male reindeers can have their antlers in late December, around Christmas time. They obviously can. So Santa's reindeer could be male…
Categories: Animals, Urban Legends Comments (10)
La Pascualita, the Mexican Corpse Bride
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 21, 2005
Status: Urban Legend This has already been posted in the hoax forum, but it's too good to ignore. Reuters has reported on a Mexican urban legend concerning a mannequin in the window of a bridal gown store in the city of Chihuahua. Local rumor has it that the mannequin is really the embalmed body of the former store owner's daughter. The former store owner was called Pascuala Esparza. La Pascualita means 'Little Pascuala' (i.e. her daughter). According to the legend her daughter died from the bite of a Black Widow spider on her wedding day, so Pascuala embalmed her and stood her up…
Categories: Death, Urban Legends Comments (46)
Japanese Urban Legends
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 09, 2005
Status: Urban legends The blog of Mari Kanazawa has an interesting post about Japanese urban legends. Here are some of the highlights: Turbo Gramma: When you drive on the highway at a blistering speed gramma knocks on the car window. If you see her, you will have a car accident. Someone made a turbo gramma game. Touch the Red G-String: The delivery company trade mark of Sagawa is "Hikyaku", a traditional Japanese postman. Hikyaku wore a traditional red Japanese g-string Fundoshi! The legend was 'if you touch a red g-string on a sagawa truck, you will have good fortune, if you could touch it on a moving…
Categories: Places, Urban Legends Comments (7)
Searing Meat Seals in Its Juices (and other food myths)
Posted by The Curator on Mon Sep 26, 2005
Status: Urban Legend I know a lot of people who swear by the notion that you have to sear meat "to seal in its juices." But I've always thought the idea was a bit far-fetched (though I agree that meat is best cooked hot and fast), so it pleased me to read, in a review of Alan Davidson's Oxford Companion to Food, that most food experts agree that it is indeed an urban legend that searing meat will seal in its juices. About.com's barbeque expert agrees: By definition, searing is to cook something hot and fast to brown the surface and to seal in the juices. Yet many of the leading cooking…
Categories: Food, Urban Legends Comments (36)
Rainbow Parties
Posted by The Curator on Thu Aug 11, 2005
The recent publication of a novel for teenagers titled RAINBOW PARTY has revived debate about whether or not such 'rainbow parties' are real. As a recent NY Times article explained, "rainbow parties are group oral sex parties in which each girl wears a different shade of lipstick, and each guy tries to emerge sporting every one of the various colors." Such parties are supposedly all the rage with teenagers (kids these days!... what will they think of next?). In the book, a teenage girl has to decide whether or not to go to such a party, but the party ends up never taking place. The concept of rainbow parties first gained widespread attention…
Categories: Sex/Romance, Urban Legends Comments (73)
Twinkies Don’t Last Forever
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 27, 2005
This month, as I'm sure everyone is aware, is the 75th anniversary of the creation of Hostess Twinkies. To mark that anniversary it's worth linking to this article in which a Hostess marketing person tries to debunk that urban legend about how Twinkies last forever. He claims they only last 25 days. Yeah, right: "We hear that they can survive a nuclear winter. Of course, it’s all urban legend," says Hostess marketing manager Kevin Kaul. But in fact, Interstate Brands Co., Hostess’ parent company, designates a 25-day shelf life for its most famous product. Interstate has 17 bakeries nationwide; they crank out 500 million Twinkies a year.
Categories: Food, Urban Legends Comments (30)
The Nike Swoosh
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 06, 2005
Was the Nike Swoosh (which is perhaps one of the most famous corporate logos in the world, second only to McDonald's golden arches) really designed by a graphic design student who got paid only $35 for it? It sounds like an urban legend playing off of Nike's use of cheap Asian sweatshop labor. But apparently the story is true. At least, the Nike website confirms it. The swoosh was designed in 1971 by design student Carolyn Davidson, and she did only receive $35 for it. However, in 1983 the company gave her a gift of stock as a token of their appreciation.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.