The world is, was and seemingly will be full of misinformation. People misunderstand, make mistakes or outright lie about this or that and the next thing you know a rumor or myth gets loose into the wild and everyone hears it. Before long, more people know the fake story than the truth. Once that genie is out of the bottle it can be very hard to put it back in. All we can do is try.
Sometimes this misinformation can be serious stuff and relate to things like disease, war, politics, or finances. And sometimes it’s just silly pop culture things.
10. Tang Was Not Made For Astronauts
Back in the day, the orange-flavored drink powder known as Tang was inextricably tied to astronauts. This was because of Tang’s heavy marketing which described it as a product used in space but still available to regular folks on the ground. It became associated with space travel and astronauts for years.
Tang was used in space but they did not make it for space. It just coincidentally worked as a beverage for astronauts because it was powdered and easily carried into orbit.
Tang came on the market in 1959 but it was never popular. Even in space it wasn’t popular, and Buzz Aldrin once went on record to say it sucks. But the problem was that water in space, thanks to how it has to be treated, tastes terrible as well.
In 1960, someone at NASA determined Tang would work well in space so they began buying it in bulk. They never used the word “Tang,” they just called it orange crystals. But after John Glenn took some into space, General Mills, the company that made Tang, hopped on it as a marketing gimmick and told the world that Tang was an astronaut drink and they were the ones that made it.
In the minds of many, the marketing implied that NASA made Tang and now it was being sold to everyday people, and General Mills would correct no one on that point.
9. Hobbits Were Never Described as Having Big Feet
In the world of Middle Earth, everything we know about the residents originally came from writer J. R. R. Tolkien. However, his work was subsequently altered by artists drawing images and filmmakers bringing his words to life and somewhere along the lines many people became convinced that Hobbits have giant feet.
Feet were definitely in Tolkien’s mind and he describes them as having hairy feet with leathery soles because they never wear shoes. But Tolkien never said they had enormous feet, especially not unusually large ones. He also did many illustrations for his work and none of the Hobbits have unusual feet in what he produced.
Large feet came into play when artists started drawing Hobbits. The Hildebrand Brothers, noted fantasy artists though they were, took liberties in their interpretation and had a habit of giving Hobbits large feet in their drawings from the 1970s. Because this was the first exposure many people had to what a Hobbit might look like, it became ingrained in people that a Hobbit has large feet, something perpetuated through film.
8. Chinese Checkers Has Nothing To Do With China
Games are big business these days, mostly as video games. The board game industry is nothing to sneeze at either, and was worth $15.5 billion in 2019 with projections that it would hit $34 billion by 2030. It’s safe to say many people are playing board games.
There’s no statistics on how many people are playing Chinese Checkers but the game rose to popularity in the US in the 1930s. Despite what the name clearly implies, it’s not a Chinese game at all. It came from Germany and the original version dated back to the late 1800s in America again where it was called Halma. So, if you’re keeping track, it’s called Chinese, but it’s an American game based on a German game based on an American game.
The game became “Chinese” in America, when Pressman Company adopted an “Oriental mystique” by branding it with pseudo-Asian imagery to sell it.
7. Garfield Was Never Meant to be Funny
This is going to be a hard one for some people to deal with. Have you ever read a Garfield comic and thought “this isn’t very funny?” Don’t feel bad because you’re not alone. At least one other person in the world agrees with you – Garfield creator Jim Davis.
Davis never actually intended for Garfield to be funny at all. So if a joke misses the mark that’s par for the course. And if the joke seems to just be a repeat of how fat Garfield is, how dumb Odie is, or how Garfield hates Mondays, that’s on purpose, too.
In a 1982 interview, Davis said he had seen that characters like Snoopy were hugely popular, especially in terms of licensing, but Charlie Brown was not. He also saw that the comics were loaded with dog characters but not cats. He concluded that there was a market for a cute, memorable cat character that could be licensed to the moon and back.
Davis intentionally created a stable of repetitive jokes and set about making his little cartoon. The entire purpose was to make money, not to be funny. He said he would spend 14 hours per week making the comic but up to 60 hours on promotion and licensing.
The reason Garfield’s face has been found on T-shirts, coffee mugs, a pizza cafe in Kuala Lumpur and a million other things is, and always was, because Jim Davis wanted money. Seems like it worked out for him.
6. The Star Trek Theme Song Actually Has Lyrics
The theme song to the original Star Trek series is pretty memorable even if it’s just an instrumental track that starts after William Shatner’s narration. Over the years people have made up lyrics for it and you can probably find more than a few videos on YouTube of people singing along. What fewer people realize is that the song already has lyrics and series creator Gene Roddenberry wrote them.
A man named Alexander Courage composed the instrumental music. As part of the deal for making the music, he would receive royalties every time that song played on TV. So every rerun of Trek would have cut him a check. Not too shabby as deals go. Except it only lasted a year.
Roddenberry and Courage made a deal that gave Roddenberry the right to add lyrics to the song. He waited a year and then did just that. Even though the lyrics were never used, and they’re arguably terrible, he was now the song’s co-writer. That meant it entitled him to half of the royalties for the song and apparently told Courage “Hey, I have to get some money somewhere. I’m sure not going to get it out of the profits of Star Trek.”
5. Solo Cup Lines Are Not For Measuring Alcohol
If you ever attended a college party, then there’s a good chance you’ve enjoyed an alcoholic beverage out of a red Solo cup. If you’ve gotten deep into the lore of drinking out of these Solo cups, you may have even heard that there are lines of demarcation inside the cup which show you different measurements for booze. The top line shows 12 ounces for beer, the next down is 5 ounces for wine and the lowest is one ounce for a shot of hard liquor.
The good people at Solo have explained more than once that the lines inside a cup are not measurements. They are part of the manufacturing process and just have a functional purpose rather than a convenient one for booze consumption.
Also, as has been pointed out, why would anyone drinking out of a plastic cup specifically measure out their wine or beer, anyway? And if you’re so concerned about measuring a shot, why not use an actual shot glass?
4. Back to the Future Was Never Supposed to Have a Sequel
Back to the Future was one of the most popular movies of the ’80s and spawned two sequels. The first film ends with Doc Brown’s character showing up with a flying Delorean insisting Marty needs to go to the future. It was a clear set up for a sequel except for one important detail – it wasn’t.
The producers never intended to make a sequel. That ending was meant as a joke. When the idea of a sequel became a reality, after part one was so popular, a “to be continued” was added to copies of the original and the sequel had to follow the original setup.
3. Schrodinger’s Cat Metaphor Was Not Meant to Be Serious
Many people are familiar, at least in passing, with Schrodinger’s Cat. It’s a metaphorical thought experiment to help explain quantum mechanics. The gist of it is that you can never know if the cat in this box is alive or dead at any given moment based on the elaborate setup that deals with poison and radioactive decay and the cat has to be both alive and dead for various reasons understood by physics. Only by observing the experiment could it become one or the other.
For many people this idea is absurd because cats cannot be both alive and dead. But what many people miss, especially in the less scientific understanding of this experiment as it gets simplified in modern pop culture, is that Schrodinger fully knew how absurd it was. That was part of the point. He was commenting on the silliness of the experimenter himself being the deciding factor in whether this cat was alive or dead, which was part of a prevailing theory of quantum physics at the time.
2. Seinfeld’s Festivus Was a Real Event in One Writer’s Home
If you’re a fan of Seinfeld, and even if you aren’t, you may know Festivus. It’s the secular stand-in for Christmas created by Frank Costanza on the show that involved decorating an aluminum pole and airing grievances with loved ones. The joke holiday was one of the most memorable parts of the series’ entire run and became so popular that people have Festivus celebrations in real life.
As fun as it must be for some to celebrate this fake holiday for real, the truth is that it was not actually a fake holiday. It was just never an official holiday. Writer Dan O’Keefe came up with the concept for the show based on the real-life Festivus that was forced upon his family as a child by his own father.
In his telling, Festivus was even more chaotic than what made it on TV, and his father was never clear about why it happened or even when. There was no set date, no set reason, and no set rituals.
1. Bram Stoker Didn’t Intend for Dracula to Be a Work of Fiction
Remember when The Blair Witch Project came out, and they sold it to audiences as a true story? Or, really, many modern horror movies from The Conjuring to The Strangers which always claim to be based on true events? None of them actually are, but saying that seems to add a layer of mystique to the proceedings. Maybe that’s what Bram Stoker had in mind with Dracula. Or maybe it really was a true story.
Despite what it seems like now, Stoker tried to sell Dracula as a true story after he wrote it. He told his editor that Mina and Jonathan Harker were dear friends of his and had relayed the story to him.
Stoker’s editor was not having it. Historically, the book was written shortly after Jack the Ripper had terrorized London and was still obviously at large. The editor wanted no part of a so-called true story about a supernatural monster stalking London’s streets.
In order to get the book published, Stoker had to remove several elements including the first 101 pages. The version that we have today starts on what would have been page 102 in the original.
Some of what Stoker included in his tale is, in fact, real. While he wrote of a boat called the Demeter taking Dracula to England, he researched a real vessel called the Dmitri that had run aground while carrying crates of Earth. Those who went to rescue the boat reported seeing a large black dog that ran to a graveyard.
Whether or not Stoker was sincere, confused or just trolling is lost to history.