The world is a weird place. Just how weird? Well, read on to find out.
Viking warriors who had received stomach wounds were given strong onion soup. After a few minutes, someone would smell the wounds, and if the scent onions could be detected it meant that there were serious abdominal injuries and that death was inevitable.
Every night, FedEx flies empty airplanes that roam the country’s skies in circuitous flight paths, ready to divert on demand in order to accommodate unexpected package volume. Each flight can cost up to $30,000, per trip.
Nirvana once played a concert in Buenos Aires where the crowd threw mud and trash at the all-girl opening act. Kurt Cobain was so upset by the display of disrespect and sexism that he sabotaged the show by playing mostly lesser known songs and teasing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” several times without ever playing it.
Once a colony’s queen bee is deemed to unfit to serve (due to old age or disease), worker bees cluster tightly around her body until she dies from overheating. This process is known as “cuddle death.”
In 1969, a Miami-bound flight carrying Candid Camera host Alan Funt was hijacked and diverted to Cuba. As several of the passengers of the plane recognized Funt—and were familiar with the pranks played by his show—they assumed it was part of a stunt and didn’t realize the gravity of their situation. The passengers of the flight were treated well by the Cuban government once they arrived, and were returned safely.
Adjusted for inflation, the US federal minimum wage actually dropped 20% from 1967 to 2010.
Domain names can fetch a fine price today—the top-selling domain name "insurance.com" sold for $36 million in 2010. But few know that domain names were free until 1995.
In Russian Roulette, a properly lubricated and maintained revolver has a higher chance of not firing the bullet if it is allowed to stop on its own. This is because gravity pulls the loaded chamber down, while the active chamber is on top.
Each Academy Award loser receives a consolation bag of goodies—a “swag bag.” The goody bag in 2013 was worth over $48,000 and included a $5,000 “vampire facelift,” jewelry, circus tickets and a $24 book on how to cope with loss.
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The oft-misattributed phrase, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach him how to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime,” comes not from an ancient Chinese proverb, nor from the Torah, the Bible, or any other such place. It was coined in 1885 by Anne Isabella Ritchie, daughter of Vanity Fair author William Makepeace Thackeray.
The act of hitting something until it works is known as “Percussive maintenance”.
In a “man of the match” speech after a soccer game, Ghanaian soccer player Mohammed Anas accidentally thanked both his wife and his girlfriend.
The famous female pirates Mary Read and Anne Bonny both disguised themselves as men. The pair discovered each others’ real genders when Bonny told Read that she was attracted to her, causing Read to reveal herself as a female as well.
The “World’s Littlest Skyscraper” scam was committed in 1919 on investors in Wichita Falls, Texas. The designer said the Newby-McMahon Building would be “480” in height. Investors assumed it was 480 feet not 480 inches and soon realized they had invested $200,000 in a 4-storey building. Investors had apparently not inspected the blueprints, and as the plans didn’t include a staircase (and the elevator company refused to honor the contract after they’d learned of the scam), the upper floors can only be accessed by ladder. The investors sued the builder, but lost and the scammer was able to flee with their funds.
In 1988, Cosmopolitan magazine ran an article stating that women had no chance of contracting HIV from sex with a man because HIV could not be transmitted in the missionary position. This fact is in no way true.
The snow in The Wizard of Oz was made of asbestos. The Wicked Witch’s broom was also made of asbestos, as was the Scarecrow’s entire outfit—despite the fact that asbestos’ health risks were already known at the time the movie was made in 1939.
In 2013, an elderly care home in California was shut down, leaving many residents with nowhere to go and nobody to care for them. After the rest of the staff left, a cook and a janitor decided to stay behind and, unpaid, they looked after them 24/7.
While animating Ratatoullie, the film’s animation team paid close attention to detail. In addition to studying formal chef techniques to correctly animate delicious-looking food, a Pixar employee jumped into a pool while wearing a chef’s outfit and hat to determine how it would cling to a character’s body and what parts would become translucent.
Psycho (1960) was shot in black and white because Hitchcock believed the blood during the shower scene in color would be too much for audiences. To film the iconic scene, chocolate syrup was used in place of blood, which appeared the same shade on camera.
In 2001, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline spilled 4,238 barrels of oil (285,000 gallons) after being shot through by a .338 calibre rifle by drunk hunter named Daniel Carson Lewis. Nearly 2 acres of tundra were soiled—this was the second-largest mainline oil spill in pipeline history.
Rebel Wilson pursued an acting career after she contracted malaria and hallucinated that she was a famous actress winning an Oscar. No Oscar yet, but she’s starred in films like Pitch Perfect (2012) and How To Be Single (2016).
In 2010, a British goat milk farmer reportedly discovered that his goats produced more milk when Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” was played for them on a loop. The goats apparently know what they like and what they don’t—“The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” by Alvin and the Chipmunks allegedly made the goats stop producing milk altogether.
When art collector and museum benefactor Walter P. Chrysler (son of Chrysler automotive founder Walter Chrysler) was 14 years old, he hung a small watercolor landscape featuring an inch-high nude in his dorm room. His dorm master, believing it was improper and inappropriate for picture of a nude woman to be hung in the dorm, confiscated and destroyed the picture. The painting was in fact by done by Renoir, a near priceless piece.
In 1985, Scottish new wave group Simple Minds rearranged and recorded a song called “Don’t You Forget about Me” in just 3 hours, then promptly forgot about it—until The Breakfast Club came out later that year and the song (which played during the film’s end credits) became a #1 hit.
The bolt that holds the rotor onto the body of a helicopter is called the “Jesus nut,” because if the nut fails, the helicopter would detach from the rotors and “the next person you see will be Jesus.”
In 2011, the city of Portland, Oregon discarded a reservoir holding 7.8 million gallons of drinking water, not because of the dead animals “regularly found in the drinking supply,” but because a drunk 21-year-old had peed in it. After hearing about the incident, City Commissioner Randy Leonard was heard to quip "I think I'm going to have a Coke with my lunch today."
In 1954, the city of Bombay, India (now known as Mumbai) had such a bad rat problem that they began accepting dead rats as taxes. This led enterprising citizens to breed rats en masse and kill them specifically to use them for payment.
In Nevada, public intoxication is not only explicitly legal, but it’s illegal for any city or town in Nevada to pass a bylaw making it illegal.
Michael Birch, the founder of social networking site Bebo, sold his site to AOL for $850 million in 2008—only to later buy it back for only $1 million in 2013.
In the 13th century, Mongolia had the largest navy in the world. In 2010, the Mongolian Navy consisted of a single tugboat called the Sukhbaatar III, which is manned by seven men, only one of whom knows how to swim.
In 1972, Italian singer Adriano Celentano released a song (called “Prisencolinensinainciusol”) with nonsense lyrics meant to sound like American English. The song was designed to “explore communications barriers”—and also perhaps to demonstrate that Italians would love any song in English. The song, of course, became a hit.
Since 2006, pennies and nickels have had a production cost greater than their face value. This has resulted in a net loss to taxpayers of more than $436 million.
Daisy Outdoor Products began in 1882 as a company that primarily sold windmills. In 1888, they began packaging their windmills with a complimentary BB gun, a promotion that became so popular they eventually ceased selling windmills and in 1895 became solely an air gun manufacturer. Way to give the people what they want!
The Rhinoceros Party was a registered political party in Canada from 1963-1993, led by Cornelius, a rhinoceros. The party’s platform promised to repeal the law of gravity and change Canada’s currency to bubble gum, so it could be inflated or deflated at will.
In 1975, an advertising copywriter named Gary Dahl struck gold when he invented the Pet Rock. He took rocks from a Mexico beach for a penny apiece and, over the course of only half a year, sold four million pet rocks, making himself over $15M. The gag gifts were aimed at those who complained about having to care for living pets, and the rocks came with a 34-page instructional booklet on how to care for one’s Pet Rock.
In 2001, a man named David H. Gunby died of complications from injuries he’d received in 1966, caused by a gunfire. His death was ruled a homicide, despite it occurring 35 years after the death of the shooter.
In 2012, a gang of scrap metal thieves in the Czech Republic stole an entire 10 ton metal bridge to sell for scrap metal. The gang had forged work orders claiming to allow them to remove the bridge, the replacement of which cost taxpayers millions.
In 1984, Steven Tyler, the vocalist for the band Aerosmith, heard an old Aerosmith song on the radio and didn’t recognize it due to memory loss from years of drug use. He suggested the band record a cover of the song. Lead guitarist, Joe Perry told him “It’s us, f***head.”
An artist named Pierre Brassau exhibited a series of paintings in 1964 to critical acclaim. However, “Pierre Brassau” was in fact a chimpanzee. Even after the hoax was revealed, a critic declared that the chimp’s painting was still the best in the exhibition—however, before the reveal, another critic had observed, “only an ape could have done this.”
The Natural Security Agency, with headquarters in Maryland, were scared of, of all things, Furbies. They banned the furry fad in 1999 from headquarters because they were afraid the toys would repeat classified conversations and blab top secret material.
It was the 1970s, and Mattel decided they needed to really amp up Barbies. They ended up releasing the "Growing Up Skipper" doll, which was supposed to depict Skipper on the verge of adolescence. Naturally, then, when you turned Skipper's arm, her boobs grew. What can I say, no one made it out of the 70s with their dignity intact—not even plastic dolls.
Food photographers often use Elmer’s Glue as a stand-in for milk in cereal commercials, so that the cereal won’t look soggy, and so that they can strategically place the cereal in the bowl.
Looking for more facts like these? We've made a complete list of Random Facts to scratch your trivia itch.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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