The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Urban Legends
The World’s Leading Authority on Poisoned Candy
Posted by The Curator on Sat Oct 26, 2013
In 1985, Joel Best published an article in the sociology journal Social Problems analyzing reports of children receiving dangerous treats on Halloween (razor blades in apples, poisoned candy, etc.). After doing an extensive review of newspaper databases for all cases between 1959 and 1984, he couldn't find a single instance of a child being killed by a Halloween treat, although there were a handful of cases (18) of minor injuries, and a larger number of reports of the discovery of contaminated treats without injury. Although he suspected that most if not all of these discovery reports were hoaxes. So he concluded that the idea of "Halloween Sadism" was…
Posted by The Curator on Fri Oct 25, 2013
Mental Floss has an interesting, brief article on "6 Absurd Alcohol Myths People Believed During Prohibition". The myths were: Alcohol turns blood into water Merely smelling alcohol could deform unborn children Some bootleg wines were made with cockroaches Most beer drinkers die of dropsy Alcohol can give you a 25-pound liver Drunkards' brains can be used as torches The cockroach wine myth reminds me of the Army Worm Wine that I posted about back in 2005, except that Army Worm Wine was apparently real. Levels of Healing - May 1900 The Spirits of America
Oops! We forgot the elevators
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 21, 2013
From Europe comes a good example of the absent-minded engineer urban legend. The most common variant of this legend, which seems to be repeated on almost every university campus, is that the library is sinking, because the engineers forgot to include the weight of the books when designing the building. The version that recently reared its head in the European press is that the Edificio Intempo skyscrapers currently under construction in Spain, which will be Europe's tallest residential towers when completed, won't have elevators on the top 27 storeys because the engineers forgot to design them in. The story, as repeated in newspapers such as El Pais, is that the buildings were originally going…
Hippo Eats Man
Posted by The Curator on Tue May 07, 2013
Thanks to Tah for giving me a heads up about this article. The hippo didn't eat a dwarf, but it does give an idea about how it would feel to become hippo food. My favorite line is, "Time passes very slowly when you're in a hippo's mouth." Experience: I was swallowed by a hippo guardian.co.uk There was no transition at all, no sense of approaching danger. It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf. I was aware that my legs were surrounded by water, but my top half was almost dry. I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten…
The Argentinian Pet
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 11, 2013
I guess it's possible that con artists down in Argentina are giving ferrets steroids to increase their size, then fluffing up their fur and selling them as toy poodles, but as many people have already pointed out, this sounds an awful lot like a variant of the "Mexican pet" legend. Man gets shock of his life when he buys two toy poodles for $150 only to be told by a vet that they are actually GIANT RODENTS pumped up with steroids to look like dogs Daily Mail Gullible bargain hunters at Argentina's largest bazaar are forking out hundreds of dollars for what they think are gorgeous toy poodles,…
If you kiss someone at Chipotle do you get a free burrito?
Posted by The Curator on Thu Feb 14, 2013
The rumor going around is that if you kiss someone while standing in line at Chipotle this Valentine's Day, you'll be rewarded with a free burrito. But on their facebook page, a Chipotle rep refers to this as a "a bad Internet rumor." Someone else wanted to know if they kissed the burrito itself would it be free. Chipotle says you're free to kiss the burrito, but you're still going to have to pay.
Did President Taft once get stuck in a bathtub?
Posted by The Curator on Thu Feb 07, 2013
William Howard Taft, 27th President of the United States (1909-1913), was a large man. He reportedly weighed 355 pounds while in office, and according to rumor, he was so large that he once got stuck in the white house bathtub. The experience supposedly so rattled him that he ordered the installation of an extra-large tub big enough to hold four ordinary men. William Howard Taft The story of him getting stuck in a tub has been frequently repeated in books and newspapers, but is there any truth to the tale? Constitution Daily recently investigated the rumor, scouring through newspaper archives, documents from the National Archives, and Taft biographies, and concluded that "the…
Slave Girl for $7.14 Hoax, 1959
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jan 28, 2013
Here's an example of a rumor that swept through an African community back in 1959. The story appeared in The Bakersfield Californian (Nov. 10, 1959). Slave Girl For $7.14 All A Hoax MOMBASA, Kenya (UPI) — Crowds of Africans who wanted to buy wives for $7.14 each have been told by the government that those stories about slave auctions were only rumor. Local official W.P.M. Maigacho had to issue an official denial of the rumors after men from outlying tribes twice gathered in the town of Tononka, expecting to take part in a slave auction. According to the rumors, native girls from a local mission…
An algorithm for finding the source of rumors
Posted by The Curator on Sun Aug 12, 2012
A Lausanne-based researcher, Pedro Pinto, has developed an algorithm that can quickly trace rumors back to their original source. From eurekalert.org: "Using our method, we can find the source of all kinds of things circulating in a network just by 'listening' to a limited number of members of that network," explains Pinto. Suppose you come across a rumor about yourself that has spread on Facebook and been sent to 500 people – your friends, or even friends of your friends. How do you find the person who started the rumor? "By looking at the messages received by just 15 of your friends, and taking into account the time factor, our algorithm can trace the path…
What do the lines on Solo Cups mean?
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jun 17, 2012
Recently a graphic began circulating on facebook, pinterest, etc. suggesting that the lines on Solo Cups were intended to indicate proper sizes for popular alcoholic drinks (liquor, wine, and beer): The Solo Cup company responded by posting a message on its facebook page, explaining that it never intended the lines to mean any such thing. Although it conceded that the lines could be used for this purpose. Evidently it was worried about being seen as promoting binge drinking, so it offered some non-alcoholic drinks that the lines could also be used to measure, such as water, juice, and chocolate milk. (click to expand image)
Death by Gatorade Shower
Posted by The Curator on Fri May 18, 2012
In his column on latimes.com, Brian Cronin examines the legend that Hall of Fame football coach George Allen got sick and died after being doused in gatorade by his team following a winning season. Did a Gatorade shower kill George Allen? latimes.com After three straight losing seasons, Allen led the Long Beach 49ers to a season-ending victory over the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on November 17, 1990 that secured them a winning season. Allen's team gave him a Gatorade shower (Allen noted that due to the budget issues, the team could not afford actual Gatorade, so it was just ice water). Six weeks later, Allen died. The story is most…
Breast-Sucking Turtles of Namibia
Posted by The Curator on Sat Apr 21, 2012
If you happen to be a young woman in Namibia, watch out for a middle-aged Indian man who may try to strike up a friendship with you. Before too long, he may whip out his breast-sucking turtle. It happened to Lina Sames (link: informante.web.na): Sames, a domestic worker, related how the mysterious man suddenly produced a live turtle, no bigger than the average grown up's hand and pressed the reptile against the victim's right breast. "It proceeded to suck, while at the same time growing bigger. I was then forced to drink blood from the turtle," a traumatized Sames said. And this has happened before! The folklore surrounding…
Study finds that chivalry at sea is a myth. Men survive shipwrecks at much higher rate than women.
Posted by The Curator on Sat Apr 14, 2012
If you're a woman, don't expect much help from men during a shipwreck. In fact, the men are likely to be shoving the women out of the way in their eagerness to save themselves. That's the general message of a new study by Swedish economists Mikael Elinder and Oscar Erixson, "Every Man for Himself! Gender, Norms and Survival in Maritime Disasters." Women fare worst on British ships — contrary to the tradition of British chivalry. The one exception to this rule was the Titanic, where Captain Smith announced, 'Women and children first.' And he enforced this rule at gunpoint. But apparently, during disasters it hardly ever occurs to captains to insist that women and children…
UK Legal Urban Legends
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 09, 2012
Another list of urban legends from the BBC. This time it's legal urban legends. All the following laws, though frequently repeated, are NOT TRUE: It's illegal to die in Parliament. It's illegal to put a stamp on upside down. It's illegal to eat a mince pie on Christmas Day. It's legal to kill Welsh people in the town of Chester. It's legal for a man to urinate in public, as long as it's on the rear wheel of his car and his right hand is on the vehicle. And pregnant women can legally relieve themselves in any public place, including into a policeman's helmet. London taxis have to carry a bale of hay in their boot. If someone knocks…
The Turd in the Olympic Ring
Posted by The Curator on Sat Apr 07, 2012
Brian Chapman reports the start of an interesting Olympics 2012 rumor on his Legends & Rumors blog: Enormous Olympic rings have started popping up in London. There's a set at St Pancras, another recently floated down the Thames, and a third set will be suspended at Tower Bridge. We're told that there's something special about one of the rings. Someone involved in their construction had a bit of a downer on the whole Olympics in London thing. So he took a shit inside one of the rings. And then had it welded shut.