TOP 7 URBAN LEGENDS DEBUNKED
1. MADE IN USA, JAPAN
Apparently, the Japanese renamed a town in Japan to the USA so they could legally export goods to the U.S. and conceal their place of origin. This legend was spurred on by the fact that in postwar America, “Made in Japan” became synonymous with cheap, poorly made goods. It is, of course, ludicrous to think that American customs officials would simply ignore the import of products that are clearly labeled to mislead.
An interesting addition to this tale is that Sony Corporation intentionally made their “Made in Japan” labels small so that American people would not realize that it was a Japanese company. A large number of Sony shipments were turned away by customs officials because the labels were smaller than regulations required them to be.
2. WHO INVENTED THE TOILET
Contrary to popular belief, it was not Thomas Crapper. Crapper is known to most as an ingenious Victorian plumber who came up with the idea of a flushing lavatory. The majority of this deceit comes from a book written in 1969 by Wallace Reyburn, Flushed with Pride: The Story of Thomas Crapper. This author also wrote Bust Up: The Uplifting Tale of Otto Titzling and The Development of the Bra. Crapper was in fact a plumber, and he did take out a number of plumbing-related patents in his time, but none for the flush toilet.
In reality, Alexander Cummings is generally credited as being the inventor of this illustrious gadget, in 1775 (fifty years before Crapper was born). Joseph Bramah and Thomas Twyford improved upon Cummings’s design by adding the ballcock. Finally, the use of the word “crapper” for a lavatory is of unknown origin but is believed to have started out in America.
3. LEMMINGS OCCASIONALLY THROW THEMSELVES FROM CLIFFS
This urban legend has quite an awful beginning; in the 1958 Disney documentary White Wilderness, a camera crew forced a group of lemmings off a cliff to document their supposed suicidal behavior. The film was made in Canada and lemmings were brought in for the film after they were purchased from Eskimo children. The lemmings were filmed in a variety of artificial situations and then herded to a cliff where they were pushed to the edge to simulate a migration.
It is unknown whether Disney was aware of the behavior of the film crew, but the fact remains, lemmings do not throw themselves from cliffs.
4. KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN NAME CHANGE
The legend is that Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to KFC because they feared the word “fried” had negative connotations not good for marketing. There was also another ludicrous legend that surely no one would believe: it claimed that KFC was breeding super chickens to get more meat from them and by law, they could not refer to them as chickens because they were a new breed of animal.
As it turns out, Kentucky Fried Chicken was not concerned about bad publicity at all—in fact, the company has not given a specific reason for the name change. You may be interested to know that the company is now once again beginning to use the original name of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
5. SNUFF FILMS
Snuff films are movies of people being killed. Most rumors claim they are made to order due to the high risks involved in distribution. The legend surrounding snuff films often piggybacks on other rumored films of cannibalism, necrophagia (eating human carrion), and necrophilia. This myth has been helped along in recent years by films such as 8MM (starring Nicholas Cage), which treats the subject as if it were fact.
In reality, there has not once been a snuff film found. Every time there is a report in the press about one, upon investigation, it turns out to be false. There is even a one-million-dollar reward for anyone that can come forward with a commercially sold snuff film. The reward has been offered for many years now with no one ever attempting to claim it (though perhaps that is understandable).
6. MCDONALD’S SHAKES ARE MADE FROM RECONSTITUTED
This rumor has been very popular on the Internet and I even remember it from my own childhood. The belief was that the liquid poured into the milkshake machine (and the ice cream machine) at McDonald’s was reconstituted fat either from pigs or chickens.
Nowadays, fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s are required by law to make the full nutritional information of their products available to consumers. This is the complete list of ingredients in a McDonald’s shake: whole milk, sucrose, cream, nonfat milk solids, corn syrup solids, mono and diglycerides, guar gum, vanilla flavor, carrageenan, cellulose gum, vitamin A palmitate. Admittedly some of these things sound a little weird, but they are all perfectly safe for human consumption and, aside from the milk, are not animal byproducts. Carrageenan is a type of seaweed (also called Irish Moss) used to control freezing in the shakes; if it were excluded, the milkshake would be a solid block of ice.
7. WALT DISNEY’S BODY IS CRYOGENICALLY FROZEN
The rumor tells us that Walt Disney, who was well-known for being a technical innovator, had his body put into a vat of liquid nitrogen upon his death so he could be reanimated when scientists discovered the means. Some versions of the tale even tell us that Walt’s cryo-vat is hidden under the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in Disneyland!
And the reality? This rumor is entirely false. On December 15, 1966, Walt Disney died of complications from the treatment he was receiving for lung cancer. Following Disney’s wishes, his family had him cremated (they have since confirmed this fact) and his ashes were interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, which you can visit this day.