Thursday, October 15, 2009

Best Urban Legends

Mr. RogersMore Halloween lists! If best/worst villains didn't get you, how about the best urban legends?

The thing is . . . these are actual, urban legends and it's going to be kind of like that game where you tell two true things about yourself and one thing that isn't true and everyone has to guess what is false. One of these things is true and the rest aren't. Which one is it??

And no fair Googling! Goolgers will be flogged.

1. Mr. Rogers used to be a Navy Seal with a long kill record
Fred Rogers of PBS and sweater fame, was at one point in his life a sniper for the U.S. Marines. Yes, the man who zipped up his sweater and played with puppets was a whole different guy with a scope and a weapon and rumor has it he had 150 kills. True or untrue?

2. Putting sugar in your gas tank will ruin the engine.
Speaking of killing . . . this one says that if you put sugar into a gas tank it will dissolve in the gasoline, head into the engine then the heat will cause the sugar to caramelize, completely clogging the system.

I know I've heard this one before. But is it true or false?

AIrplane Toilet3. Chicago man dies of African spider bite in airplane lavatory.
A rare species of poisonous African spiders caught a ride in an airplane lavatory and bit an unsuspecting man on the bottom when he sat down. The spiders have spread and citizens are encouraged to check under toilet seats before sitting down. Believe it?

Will you be checking for little black buddies the next time you're in a public restroom?

4. Little boy needs transplant to replace the burlap sack that now serves as his trunk.
The family of William (Billy) Evans sent out a nationwide plea for help because they were too poor to afford the operation that would replace the artificial body his doctors created for him--a burlap sack full of leaves--with a real torso.

It's heart-rending, yes, but is it true? Oh come on--do you really believe this?

5. Ground glass is a deadly poison.
I don't know that this needs any further explanation--you understand ground glass and you understand poison. What more is there?

So is it true? Anyone care to ingest some of the stuff to test it out?

6. If a bank fails the FDIC pays depositors for their losses.
You're aware that since the 1929 crash and the Depression that the FDIC insures its banks against failure which means--in a nutshell-- that if a bank should go bust then the FDIC will step in and pay back the money you've deposited, up to the sum of $100,000 per depositor. Yes or no? How much are you willing to bet?

Mikey from Life Cereal7. "Mikey" from the Life cereal commercials choked to death.
Ingesting a deadly combination of soda and pop rocks (or perhaps ground glass??) he choked on the subsequent fumes of carbon dioxide and asphyxiated.

True or no?

So many legends, so little truth . . . is this one of them?

8. Fingernails and hair continue to grow after death.
Because fingernails and hair are produced from dead skin cells they continue to grow for a period after death as seen in interred bodies where the nails and hair have become longer.

Yes or no? Who wants to dig around and find out if it's true?

9. Prostitutes can avoid being arrested by asking johns "Are you a cop?"
According to state laws cops are required to truthfully state that they are law enforcement officers (like you see on cop shows, the police bust into a house and yell, "POLICE!") and therefore if they are confronted by the question "are you a cop?" they must answer in the affirmative or risk being sacked.

True or false?

10. Disney's Tinkerbell was modeled after Marilyn Monroe.
We've heard it before, the hips are familiar, nothing more to add here. It pretty much speaks for itself. True or false?

11. The Army uses "Stress Cards" to help with new recruits.
In an effort to help prevent PTSD and other mental stresses of combat new recruits are now being issued "Stress Cards" at boot camp which are to be shown to commanding officers and drill sergeants and, when shown, require that soldiers be given gentler treatment. I really hope this one is true . . . for the sake of the soldiers.

Maybe they'll start issuing these things to the guys at Git-Mo too. If it's good for the troops maybe it's good for Al-Quaida? Are you stressed? Then flash that card.

12. A freighter carrying a load of tapioca nearly sank when a fire broke out, cooking the cargo.
A fire broke out aboard the freighter and when crews worked to put out the fire with lots of water the resulting mixture heated quite nicely and nearly burst through the walls of the hold. Mmmmm . . . tapioca . . . yes or no?

Cabbage Patch Dolls13. Flashing your lights at a traffic signal will cause the light to turn from red to green.
If you approach an intersection and flash your lights the electronic sensors on the traffic lights will see the flash, assume you are an emergency vehicle and change to green to allow you to pass.

You know you're going to try it.

14. Cabbage patch dolls were designed in preparation for a nuclear holocaust.
Cabbage Patch Dolls, with their unusually puckered and bizarre faces, were specifically designed to get people accustomed to the appearance of mutants following a nuclear disaster.

I'd believe it.

Beehive Hair15. Woman dies of spiders housed in hair.
When a woman in New York died and doctors preformed the autopsy it was determined that she'd been killed by multiple spider bites coming from a nest of spiders in her bouffant hair style.

Next time your scalp itches and you reach up to scratch you're going to think of this. Is it true?


No snow yet . . . but you can still enter this month's Write-Away Contest. It's going to leave you shaking in your boots.

Sponsored by Beau-Coup for unique baby shower favors.


Mom24 said...

I'm going to say the FDIC one is the only one true...although while it might not ruin an engine, I believe sugar in the gas tank is not good news.

I'm still pulling for Nov. 1 for snowfall. :-)

Jackie Blue said...

OMG I love Urban Legends and I can usually win outguessing my kids! I think the only true one here is the ship with tapioca ....the fire broke out aboard the ship and the tapioca cooked...THEN the water they added to put out the fire only added to the weight of cooked tapioca hope I am correct....

Jackie Blue said...

OMG I love Urban Legends and I can usually win outguessing my kids! I think the only true one here is the ship with tapioca ....the fire broke out aboard the ship and the tapioca cooked...THEN the water they added to put out the fire only added to the weight of cooked tapioca hope I am correct....

Kathy G said...

I've got to agree with Mom24, although I believe they've temporarily upped the limit to $250,000.

WHEN do we get the answers :-)

Simba said...

I think it is the tapioca one. The one about the FDIC as almost true, but now the limit is $250,000 per person, and also you can have different types of accounts to increase that amount. e.g. joint, trust accounts, etc

Robin in New Jersey said...

No snow yet! It's suppose to snow here in New Jersey today!

Jeana said...

Well, darn. I thought I had it with the sugar in the gas tank, but the FDIC? I thought that was true.

Magi said...

Just wanted to let you know that I jinxed myself. I chose 10/15 as the day you'd get snow. Guess what we got this morning on the 15th? I'm in northern Indiana, and it's waaay too early for us to get snow. It was light and didn't stick, but it was snow.

My daughter cheered.

SarahHub said...

I think the FDIC one is true. But I might have said a couple others were, too!

Patricia Linehan said...

How cool would it be if the Mr. Rogers one was true? I agree with the majority on the FDIC one. I've gotten lots of these as e-mail forwards (warnings from my concerned mother-- I have been trying to direct her to before she hits send, but it seems to be a tough lesson to learn).

Kelly said...

It has to be the hair and fingernails growing after death! Hasn't anyone seen any zombie movies lately?!

Carina said...

I can't tell you how many of these I've received in well meaning e-mails or heard from friends. Thanks to snopes, my days of dupe-dom are behind me. On the principal that ground glass can't possibly be beneficial to the human body, I'll say that this one is "true".

Heart2Heart said...


I would have to agree with most of the comments here about the FDIC but I was sure the amount was $250,000 not $100,000, if History serves me correct.

This is really fun and so many I would think were true but if it's only one, man, have I been a sucker lately.

I even tried the pop rocks and coke theory and I'm still here! Just makes them pop all the more!

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Scribbit said...

All good guesses--I'm letting people know the answers as I return a comment via email but later on today I'll leave the answer here in the comments.

Or you can always use Snopes.

Anonymous said...

Well better luck to someone else. My best guess was yesterday. J

Tammy said...

My grandparents are huge fans of Mr. Rogers (LOL), so I know that he was in the ministry before his tv presense. :-)

I have heard the hair/fingernails one, and I'm thinking that is the right answer.

As for most of the others, I haven't heard of them. I guess the only forwards I get these days are "if you love Jesus send this to 10,000 people and back to me. If you don't you really don't love Jesus." (Yes, I do love Jesus; no, I never send them on!)

Janelle said...

Like Tammy, I was going o say that Mr. Rogers entered the Seminary after college, not the Marines.

The ground glass one is fake, though I personally wonder if it's just the wording. Ground glass would be harmful to the body and the digestive system, but I don't think it could be classified as a "poison."

I think the FDIC one is also trickily worded. First off, the amount is current 250K (I looked it up) until the end of 2013. On 1/1/14, it will go back down to 100K. I think the idea behind the FDIC is that you don't lose your money, no that you can collect it all at once. The FDIC was created to prevent runs on the banks, but if everyone could withdraw 100K (or 250K) when the bank failed, that would, in fact, be a run on the bank.

The tapioca story sounds absolutely ludicrous to me -- something completely bizarre made up for an entertaining email.

Mikey is still alive, prostitutes are prostitutes, African spiders don't live in airplane lavatories, and little boys don't survive with scarecrows for organs.

I'm going with the army stress cards one. This also seems pretty ludicrous, because who ever heard of drill sergeants who car about their soldiers' feelings? However, the first time I ever met my brother-in-law (who flies for the army), he was home on R&R mid-tour from Iraq, and he had like 5 stress cards on him, which I thought was weird at the time. I still do, actually.

Heather said...

I think it's the hair and fingernails one. These were fun to read!

CanCan (Mom Most Traveled) said...

I hadn't heard the cabbage patch one, lol.

branda50 said...

I am guessing hair and nails and hoping it isn't either one of the spider ones..Yuck...

Anonymous said...

I'm going to go w/ the FDIC one, assuming you didn't build in the "tricky wording" with the 100,000 vs. 250,000 amounts.

I watched a thing on the History channel a while back that was talking about the hair/nails thing that said they "appear" to continue growing because as your body begins to decompose and dry out, the skin shrinks and pulls away from the nails/hair, which makes it appear to grow, when in fact more of it is just visible.

Maggie said...

I'm going to guess the sugar in the gas tank.
The hair and fingernails is not true for sure. It seems that way because the pores open and the hair folicle comes out making the hair appear longer.
I would never believe anything bad about Mr. Rogers!!

Sheri said...

I'm going to go with the prostitutes one because a neighboring city to me just passed a law that it's illegal for prostitutes to ask those questions. If they do, they immediately get arrested.

Flea said...

I'm going to say numbers 2 and 6 are real.

Anonymous said...

They are probably ALL true..

Summer said...

So you're going to do a follow up post with the true and false ones right? Because I'd only ever heard one of these and I don't have time to google the rest. :)

cndymkr / jean said...

Some of these are too bizarre. I've heard of most of them. But the Cabbage Patch Dolls? It was too funny.

Kathryn said...

I think that 1, 2, and 13 are true. I know I have to pick one but I'm not sure.

(1) I've heard the one about Mr. Rogers being a sniper so many times but I've never checked it out.

(2) Also, my Dad has told me that the sugar in the engines was successfully used on the Nazis in WWII. I believe him because he was alive back then. The iffy thing about this one is that while it may have worked on war vehicles from the 1940's it most likely does not work on current model engines. Hmmm..

(13) I know from personal experience that flashing your headlights at streetlights works. It does not however work on every streetlight. I had one experience where a light went from green to yellow to green without the other direction ever getting a green light. There also might be an issue with the time of day. I have better luck with this at night. I have also heard that it is illegal for civilians to do this and will be arrested if caught. But I haven't been caught yet.

Also, I believe that #6 used to be true but is no longer accurate. This is because back in the day ever US dollar in US circulation was backed by the gold in Fort Knox. This is no longer accurate as we have more paper money than gold. Which I think has something to do with the current economy. Although it could be argued that if AIG can get a government donation of $170 BILLION it would make sense that your generic US citizen with money in the bank should be able to get it back from the government if their bank fails.

So I guess I have to pick one. Hmmm.. maybe it's the Tinkerbell One! LOL!

Born Librarian said...

I'm going with the FDIC one, and I'm fairly sure they've recently upped the limit to $250,000.

Mr. Rogers was not a Navy Seal, however Captain Kangaroo was a Marine during WWII.

Melissa said...

I think I will go with sugar in the gas tank, but that was a tough choice! Love this post!!

Anonymous said...

Ok. Mr Rogers went to seminary with my father in law (Yes! Claim to fame! But he was older, Mr Rogers that is, so the two did not mingle much) so I know he was not a Navy Seal. And it's not that ground glass is poison--it's that it can chew up your intestines.
Number 2 is true. That's my best guess.

Sam said...

interesting comments (and blog!!) I actually happened to read a little while ago that fingernails and hair only LOOK as though they are growing because of the way the skin recedes away from it.

I am quite probably wrong but I think that the true one is the Tinkerbell one! ;-)

Scribbit said...

Okay, time for revelations.

Yes, Mr. ROgers was in the seminary (though that doesn't preclude service in the Marines necessarily). That one's false.

Sugar in the gas tank isn't good for your car but it won't dissolve in gasoline as is commonly thought, therefore it can clog things a bit but that can be fixed by changing the filter. Not a big deal actually.

Spiders in the toilets? Common. No way. Ditto for leafy boy.

Ground glass? Not poison at all. I'm sure it can't be good for you but a poison? Nope.

The thing about the FDIC is that Americans apparently misunderstand the rules. Yes the FDIC insures banks, the feds will buy out shaky institutions but as for paying back people like me who have their money there? Not so fast. It can take up to 90 or so years for the feds to pay up, if at all. No tricky wording there at all, it's strictly an issue of folks like us not understanding the full sneakiness of govt and business in bed together.

Mikey? He's an ad exec somewhere on the east coast adn quite alive.

Fingernails and hair? Doesn't grow, as some pointed out it's just that the body's fluids evaporating cause the skin and tissues to shrink, making it APPEAR as if they've grown.

The thing about the prostitutes? Not quite. And Tinkerbell was not modeled after Marilyn.

The Army is not using stress cards (that one made me laugh), you can't make traffic lights change with your flashing lights (the sensors are not photoelectric at all but controlled by radio waves or something), Cabbage Patch dolls are not supposed to look like mutants. That is just a bonus feature they have. And no woman has died from spiders nesting in her hair. Or her toilet.

That, of course, leaves the tanker full of tapioca which, according to Snopes, apparently did happen in 1995 or 1997. Some time like that. Hard to believe? I guess that's what happens when tapioca, water and fire mix.

gretchen from lifenut said...

Urban legends are so much fun. Great list!

I don't believe the tapioca story or the red light story. The reason emergency vehicles can go through lights is because they have a handy little sensor onboard. I don't believe any of the stories, actually.

My mom does. God bless her. We had a little talk about Snopes one day.

Grace said...

1. I wish it was true, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t.
2. This one is partially true. Sugar is very bad for the engine, but it isn’t instant death.
3. Probably not.
4. Seriously?
5. No. Swallowing chunks of glass could cut things and cause a person to bleed to death, but ground glass would have rounded edges, so no cutting. Also, glass is the material of choice in laboratories for a reason – it is chemically inert; therefore not toxic.
6. The number sounds wrong, but that is what the FDIC does.
7. Would take far more carbon dioxide than that to kill someone.
8. Actually, they aren’t.
9. An officer would answer honestly, but I would think a question like that would be hard on business.
10. Hard to say; I’ll go with no.
11. Please, let it not be so.
12. No
13. Not exactly an accurate portrayal of someone suffering from radiation poisoning.
14. How long would she have had to leave her hair alone for such a nest to be established? Yuck.

So, number 6, the FDIC is true.
How did I do?

Grace said...

Read the comments.

It's the tapioca - you have got to be kidding me. I guess the stuff expands pretty forcibly.

Melissa B. said...

I know for a fact that the ground glass urban legend is false. One of Mr. Fairway's "bar tricks" in college was to drink a martini-and then eat the glass. He's still around all these years later...

Organizing Mommy said...

I think they are all false. Do I get a cookie, now?

Sage said...

I am plumping for the sugar in the gas tank.. but I have a sneaky suspicion it will turn out to be false.... haven't heard of some of them before but very good...

snarflemarfle said...

I have got to read more closely! I first read this as 1 being false and the rest being true!! I was sure you had gone insane because there were clearly several that I would pick out as false.

Ah, the starting day of a vacation and I don't quite have my brain engaged yet...

Lori said...

I would love to think Mr. Rogers had a light and dark side--my FIL has a former navy seal working for him and he is definitely not Mr. Rogers-esque, but I'd like to think that to balance all the killing he had some sweet sensitive side to him.

Some of these I know aren't true, courtesy of tv, and others I have no idea like the Tapioca. But it was very amusing to read these!

Sandy said...

Actually, snopes does have a link regarding the FDIC debunking the myth that the FDIC would pay out over 99 years:

"Historically, pays deposits within a few days of a bank closing, usually within one business day...."

Antique Mommy said...

I tend to not believe anything, but I got a good laugh out of the possiblity that some of those were true.

Melissa said...

Just FYI - it has snowed here in Minneapolis, MN, TWICE already!

theflyingacc said...

I cannot tell you how much I loved this and how gullible I am>> I did not read anything,I was so excited that I ran off telling stories about Mr. Rogers>> everyone loved the stories better than the correction! Thank you, thank you, thank you for the fun>>I believe everything..
I am still betting for snow on Oct 21> my birthday>>>KISSES

Stephanie said...

What a fun post Michelle.

keeperathome44 said...

number one is true!
Mr. Rogers was a marine!!!

keeperathome44 said...

number one is true!
Mr. Rogers was a marine!!!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

I'm going with #6, the FDIC, although that one could have been changed in the latest attempt to legislate our lives for the better.

J at said...

My uncle lived in Fairbanks in the 60s, and claimed his neighbor kept stealing gasoline from him. He retaliated by putting sugar in the gasoline container, and when the neighbor stole the gas, it seized up his engine. Now I wonder if he's lying.

Actually, the FDIC makes payments in a matter of days if a bank fails. Usually it doesn't come to that, because the bank is purchased by another bank (like our old bank, Washington Mutual, which was taken over by Chase). So that would be the true one, except the limit is now 250K, not 100k as it was previous to this whole banking nightmare.