I lost my Urban Legend virginity to “Mikey”, the picky pitch kid for “Life” cereal during the 70′s. I can still vividly recall the first time hearing about his “Final Destination” worthy death many years ago, as the story made the rabid rounds at my middle school playground. For the two people who’ve never heard of this tall tale, Mikey perished after ingesting a deliciously deadly cocktail of Pop Rocks & Coca-Cola.
Of course, access to the internet would have easily laid waste to this deliciously morbid Urban Legend in only a few seconds. However, back in the early 80′s, you were lucky to have an Atari 2600 in your house. These days, Urban Legends from the food world often spin off from minute seeds of truth, before snowballing into a monstrous entity bent on viral domination. Much to the chagrin of Corporate PR firms. Here are but a few, covering fact, fiction and the gray, “Google” it bits somewhere in-between.
The Pillsbury Drive By
The Story: Little old lady, driving home alone after a grocery shopping trip, finds herself in a bad part of town on a very hot summer day. Not liking the look of her surroundings and even though her A/C is not working, she rolls up all her windows to prevent a possible car jacking.
After driving through the hood for a prolonged time , she hears a loud “POP” & the back of her head is violently struck by an unknown object. She slowly feels around & is horrified to feel a warm, fleshy mass oozing from the area in which she was struck. Not wanting to stop the car, she speeds to a local emergency room, keeping one hand off the wound, worrying her brain is spilling out.
Upon arriving at the hospital, it is revealed that it is not a gunshot wound, nor are there brains trying to exit her noggin’. As it turns out, the rising temperature in the car’s interior heated up the can of Pillsbury dough in her grocery bag to the point it blew its top off with such force, dough shot into the old gal’s wig. No brains. Just crescent rolls.
Fact or Fiction? A terrific story but nobody has yet to substantiate it, other than a poorly doctored email circulating around from a purported “EMS” operator that smacks of embellishment. Even more disturbing? Some say it stems from an old Brett Butler stand-up routine.
Wendy’s Chili Gives Patron the Finger
Story: Have you heard the one about the lady who discovered a severed fingertip in her bowl of Wendy’s chili?
Fact or Fiction? Although the story still makes the rounds, it does originate from a news story back in 2005, when a San Jose Wendy’s became the epicenter of a food contamination shakedown. Although a digit did make it into a bowl of beef and beans, it was discovered that the “victim” had deliberately mixed it in after obtaining the finger from a friend of her husband’s, who had recently parted ways with it via an industrial workplace accident. A grand larceny charged ensued.
Story: I bet you recall hearing the story about the McDonald’s customer who discovered a deep fried chicken head in a box of McNuggets?
Fact or Fiction? There is a nugget of truth to this story. Back in 2000, a Virginian mom got the media riled up into a frenzy after reporting this fast food finding. Upon inspecting a box of McDonald’s chicken wings (yes, wings, not McNuggets as many variations of the story mention) she was shocked that one of them had a beak and eyes. Great Urban Legend fodder indeed – and while the FDA questioned the validity of this claim, after factoring in the multiple steps this decapitated head had to make in order to ultimately find itself on a kitchen table with a side of dipping sauce, the internet gave this story a life of its own.
Story: Wait, High School girls are soaking tampons in vodka and using them the old fashioned way to obtain a quick contact buzz?
Fact or Fiction? This story can be recorded as far back at 1999 but has really come into its own over the last few years. Origins of this Urban Legends stems to “reports” from one of Finland’s Drug and Alcohol Centers. It has been noted by many sources and common sense that, after bloating due to absorbing liquid, it’s next to impossible for anyone to manage such a feat. Plus, as some intrepid reporters will attest after their own “hands on” research, it’s extremely painful.
Diet Coke + Mentos = The Deathmaker
Story: Two little kids from Brazil died after ingesting a deadly mixture of Mentos and Cocoa Cola.
Fact or Fiction? Back in 2006, news wires picked up stories about young children who perished after eating Mentos and Coke. At that point, everyone was well versed via YouTube as to what occurs when you drop some of these candies into a large bottle of Diet Coke (foamy fireworks!). Kudos for Brazil News editors for printing a story with unsubstantiated claims, little to know factual information like dates, names, where the kids were from etc. However, Urban Legends spread like wildfire on the Internet and this one was well on its way to super stardom.
Mountain Dew Hates Babies
The Story: Forget using condoms or birth control pills when you can just Do the Dew! A high volume diet of Mountain Dew will reduce the number of swimmers available to males for reproduction purposes. High school kids & extreme sports athletes with commitment issues rejoice.
Fact or Fiction? This story was rampant back in 1999. But scientists, PepsiCo and your Catholic mom all know it’s a bunch of malarkey. Who can deny the allure of a soda which may assist the results of the patented rhythm method? I’m sure if anything, the soda giant saw a spike in sales and America saw an increase in Dew related teenage pregnancies.
The McWorm Burger
The Story: Dating back to at least 1978, an Urban Legend has persisted about McDonald’s restaurants using earthworms/meal worms as inexpensive, yet nutritionally delicious filler in their hamburgers.
Fact or Fiction: If someone took the time to price out what earthworms or meal worms cost by the pound, you’d discover that these creepy crawlies would be far to rich for this corporate giant’s blood. Plus, if this was true, don’t you think the FDA would be all over this? Not to mention every disgruntled McDonald’s employee that ever graced the grill under the golden arches?
Twinkie Expiry Date: To Infinity & Beyond
The Story: A Twinkie has no expiry date. In fact, it contains almost the same ingredients as embalming fluid. In fact, the Hostess Company, the givers of life to the beloved sponge cake, hasn’t produced new Twinkies in years because they have a shelf life of 50 years+.
Fact or Fiction: Pop-culture references aside, a Twinkie’s longevity is in fact a very short life cycle, if you don’t include those expired, discounted boxes at the Dollar Tree. In fact, Hostess notes that each golden log has a shelf life of 25 days, not 5 months, 5 years and beyond. Probably shorter if the creme filling was real.