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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Urban Legends
The Nike Swoosh — 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…
Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2005.   Comments (7)

Welcome to the World of AIDS — Here's an old news story (from Dec. 2003), but it's still interesting from an urban legend perspective. An 18-year-old youth in South Africa claims that three women forced him at gunpoint to have sex with them. "The youth claims that after this the women said welcome to the world of Aids." It seems like the police didn't believe his story. They just laughed at him, which isn't surprising considering that his story is exactly like that urban legend about someone who wakes up after a…
Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2005.   Comments (11)

No Cell Phones While Pumping Gas — A Connecticut senator, Andrea Stillman, has introduced a bill into the state legislature to impose a $250 fine on anyone who uses a cell phone while pumping gas. She sees it as a public health issue. Here's her reasoning: Stillman said there are already warnings pasted on gas pumps informing people that a cell phone in the proximity of a gas pump could cause an electrical charge that might ignite the pump. However, she said, there are no penalties. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that…
Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005.   Comments (44)

Sex, Death, and Maggots — I came across this story posted on LiveJournal. This may be an urban legend that's been around for a while, but I haven't heard it before: Subject: The most disgusting thing I've ever heard. Ever. So I know this girl. She has all these weird white things in the back of her throat, so she goes to the doctor thinkings she got some nasty STD of the mouth. Turns out its not an STD at all. She has f*****ng maggots growing in her throat. (I know this girl, this is not an urban legend) So…
Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005.   Comments (30)


Roommates, Roaches, and Armadillos — Here's an unusual urban legend that I haven't heard before. It involves a group of students at Texas A&M University who are sharing a house together. It's in the genre of 'roommate horror stories'. According to the story, one of the students is an entomology major and keeps a collection of giant Africanized cockroaches in a terrarium. But during a party the terrarium breaks and the roaches escape, only to start breeding like crazy in the house. To solve this roach problem the students…
Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2005.   Comments (15)

Rock ‘n’ Roll Urban Legends — The Guardian offers their selection of the 10 greatest rock 'n' roll myths ever. Top of the list is the one about Mama Cass choking to death on a ham sandwich. It was also news to me to find out that Michael Jackson doesn't own the Elephant Man skeleton. I always thought he did.
Posted: Wed Feb 23, 2005.   Comments (9)

Knuckle Cracking — I'm not a knuckle cracker myself. In fact, I hate it when people crack their knuckles. And I've frequently told people that cracking their knuckles would cause arthritis. After all, that's what everyone says. But according to this NY Times article (republished in the Arizona Republic) it's not true. It's an urban legend. Just reading this description of what causes knuckles to crack makes me cringe: The loud pop of a cracked knuckle is caused by synovial fluid, the thick lubricant that…
Posted: Wed Feb 02, 2005.   Comments (70)

When I Woke Up My Leg Was Gone — Here's a news story that bears an eerie resemblance to the urban legend about the guy who shares a drink with a stranger in a bar and wakes up to find his kidney gone. This news report involves a German professor who goes on holiday to Costa Rica and visits a hospital to have them check out his swollen left foot: When I got to the hospital they put me on a bed and I heard the word amputate. I tried to protest, but before I knew it they had given me drugs to black me out, and when I…
Posted: Thu Jan 20, 2005.   Comments (13)

10 Best Film Urban Legends — Filmthreat.com has a list of the "10 BEST URBAN LEGENDS IN FILM HISTORY". It's an interesting list, but I think they've chosen an odd choice for number one: the 'urban legend' about President Woodrow Wilson allegedly remarking that the ultra-racist film Birth of a Nation was like "history written with lightning" and "all terribly true." I've heard these comments attributed to Wilson many times. In fact, I can remember sitting in quite a few classes and listening to the lecturer make…
Posted: Wed Dec 22, 2004.   Comments (5)

Jasper and the Yeast Rolls — This story (author unknown) has been 'floating around' the internet for a few months. I found a discussion of it on alt.folklore.urban. There's an easier to read version of it here. It involves a fox terrier named Jasper who eats twelve uncooked yeast rolls that a woman leaves out to rise before baking. The yeast begins to rise in the dog's stomach, causing him to swell up like a balloon: "He looked like a combination of the Pillsbury dough boy and the Michelin Tire man wrapped up in…
Posted: Sun Dec 05, 2004.   Comments (13)

Crucified Santa — According to urban legend there was once a department store in Japan that, shortly after the war, displayed a smiling crucified Santa at Christmas, mistakenly believing that that was how Santa was supposed to be displayed. In different versions of the legend the crucified Santa was either a small miniature or an 'enormous effigy'. There's no evidence that the Japanese crucified Santa ever existed. But people here in America have, of course, deliberately stuck Santas up on crosses.
Posted: Fri Dec 03, 2004.   Comments (18)

Which Urban Legend Are You? — Here's a cute little quiz to waste five minutes of your life on: Which urban legend are you? I'm the classic tale of the gator in the sewer (because everyone knows I'm full of crap, but they keep talking about me anyway).
Posted: Tue Nov 23, 2004.   Comments (19)

The Haiku of Big Gary C — I've finally made a decision in the urban legend haiku contest. It was tough, because there were so many good entries, but I've decided to give the book to Big Gary C, based on the consistently high quality of his entries. He clearly has a knack for urban legend haiku. Here are a few of his entries: (Ten English Names for Snow) Flakes, drifts, flurries, slush, Blizzard, powder, crust, white stuff, whiteout, ice crystals. We brought our cute pet Back from our Mexican tour. …
Posted: Mon Nov 22, 2004.   Comments (7)

Win A Book, Contest #2 — I've received a free copy of David Wilton's new book, Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends, courtesy of Oxford University Press. So I'm having a contest to give it away. The book has just been published. I'm not sure it's even out in stores yet, but you can get a copy here... if you win the contest. First, what's the book about? Wilton debunks all those stories about where words come from, such as 'is GOLF really an acronym for Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden?' or 'does…
Posted: Fri Nov 12, 2004.   Comments (143)

Indecently Exposed Toothbrush — Jan Harold Brunvand calls it the "Indecent Exposure" urban legend. It involves a vacationing couple whose hotel room is broken into and robbed of everything save a toothbrush and a camera. When they get home and develop the film in the camera, they discover pictures of their toothbrush up the robber's rear end (to put it not so delicately). It appears that this urban legend has now served as the unfortunate inspiration for a prank that a New Zealand golfer played on his rival. As this…
Posted: Thu Nov 04, 2004.   Comments (1)

Girl Gets Her Ride Pimped, Then Carjacked — An urban legend has been circulating about Pimp My Ride, the MTV show on which people get surprised by having their raggedy hoopties (read: old cars) transformed into tricked-out pimp-mobiles. I'll let this poster from the Elle.com forums describe the rumor, since she does it so much better than I could: okay remember the beloved episode of the girl Nile with the pink cadillac and they put the river in the back her car. i think it was like episode 2 or something. i was told that she…
Posted: Wed Nov 03, 2004.   Comments (11)

Coca-Cola As An Insecticide — Can Coca-Cola work as an insecticide? Indian farmers seem to think so. The Guardian reports that many of them have taken to spraying their cotton and chilli fields with the soft drink. The article quotes an agricultural analyst who suggests that this might actually work because the sugar in the drink would "attract red ants to feed on insect larvae". But a Coca-Cola spokesman dismisses the entire story as an urban legend: "We are aware of one isolated case where a farmer may have used a…
Posted: Wed Nov 03, 2004.   Comments (13)

Man Dies, No One Notices — Yahoo News offers up this brief report about a British train conductor who "stamped and carefully returned the ticket of a slumbering passenger without realizing the man was dead." I guess people only realized the guy was dead once the train pulled into the station (York) and he failed to wake up. Now, by coincidence, I took this very same train last month, and the seats were pretty cramped, so either the train was quite empty, or whoever was sitting next to the dead guy was really…
Posted: Mon Nov 01, 2004.   Comments (7)

Vanishing Hitchhiker on Mount St. Helens — The Tacoma Washington News Tribune reports on a Vanishing Hitchhiker legend local to Mount St. Helens. (in case you're not familiar with it, the Vanishing Hitchhiker urban legend goes like this: a guy picks up a hitchhiker who then mysteriously vanishes from inside the moving car. He realizes that the hitchhiker was a ghost.) Following the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980, many drivers in the area swore they saw a woman dressed in white thumbing a ride by the side of the…
Posted: Fri Oct 29, 2004.   Comments (3)

Man Sells Wife’s Kidney — Here's an odd spin on the old urban legend about sharing a drink with a stranger at a bar and then waking up the next morning in a bathtub full of ice, without a kidney. How about, instead of just sharing a drink with that stranger, you also get married to him, and then he sells off your kidney. According to the Daily Times, Ashfaq convinced Zohra to undergo surgery so that the couple could have children, but instead had one of her kidneys removed and sold for Rs.200,000. Having no…
Posted: Fri Oct 22, 2004.   Comments (5)

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