50 Interesting Facts About Practically Everything
You’ll never believe these crazy facts.
McDonald’s once made bubblegum-flavored broccoliTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Some fungi create zombies, then control their mindsTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
The tropical fungus Ophiocordyceps infects ants’ central nervous systems. By the time the fungi been in the insect bodies for nine days, they have complete control over the host’s movements. They force the ants to climb trees, then convulse and fall into the cool, moist soil below, where fungi thrive. Once there, the fungus waits until exactly solar noon to force the ant to bite a leaf and kill it. Don’t miss these 12 animal “facts” that are actually false.
The first oranges weren’t orangeTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
The original oranges from Southeast Asia were a tangerine-pomelo hybrid, and they were actually green. In fact, oranges in warmer regions like Vietnam and Thailand still stay green through maturity. For more interesting facts, find out which “orange” came first: the color or the fruit.
A cow-bison hybrid is called a “beefalo”Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Johnny Appleseed’s fruits weren’t for eatingTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Yes, there was a real John Chapman who planted thousands of apple trees on U.S. soil. But the apples on those trees were much more bitter than the ones you’d find in the supermarket today. “Johnny Appleseed” didn’t expect his fruits to be eaten whole, but rather made into hard apple cider.
Scotland has 421 words for “snow”Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Samsung tests phone durability with a butt-shaped robotTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
People stash their phones in their back pockets all the time, which is why Samsung created a robot that is shaped like a butt—and yes, even wears jeans—to “sit” on their phones to make sure they can take the pressure.
The “Windy City” name has nothing to do with Chicago weatherTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Chicago’s nickname was coined by 19th-century journalists who were referring to the fact that its residents were “windbags” and “full of hot air.”
Peanuts aren’t technically nutsTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
They’re legumes. According to Merriam-Webster, a nut is only a nut if it’s “a hard-shelled dry fruit or seed with a separable rind or shell and interior kernel.” That means walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios aren’t nuts either. They’re seeds.
Armadillo shells are bulletproofTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
In fact, one Texas man was hospitalized when a bullet he shot at an armadillo ricocheted off the animal and hit him in the jaw.
Firefighters use wetting agents to make water wetterTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
The chemicals reduce the surface tension of plain water so it’s easier to spread and soak into objects, which is why it’s known as “wet water.” Find out which of your favorite science “facts” are actually false.
The longest English word is 189,819 letters longTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
“Running amok” is a medically recognized mental conditionTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Considered a culturally bound syndrome, a person “running amok” in Malaysia commits a sudden, frenzied mass attack, then begins to brood. Learn some more random facts and trivia you’ll wish you’d always known.
Octopuses lay 56,000 eggs at a timeTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
The mother spends six months so devoted to protecting the eggs that she doesn’t eat. The babies are the size of a grain of rice when they’re born.
Cats have fewer toes on their back pawsTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Like most four-legged mammals, they have five toes on the front, but their back paws only have four toes. Scientists think the four-toe back paws might help them run faster.
Kleenex tissues were originally intended for gas masksTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
When there was a cotton shortage during World War I, Kimberly-Clark developed a thin, flat cotton substitute that the army tried to use as a filter in gas masks. The war ended before scientists perfected the material for gas masks, so the company redeveloped it to be smoother and softer, then marketed Kleenex as facial tissue instead.
Blue whales eat half a million calories in one mouthfulTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Those 457,000 calories are more than 240 times the energy the whale uses to scoop those krill into its mouth.
That tiny pocket in jeans was designed to store pocket watchesTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
The original jeans only had four pockets: that tiny one, plus two more on the front and just one in the back.
Turkeys can blushTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
When turkeys are scared or excited—like when the males see a female they’re interested in—the pale skin on their head and neck turns bright red, blue, or white. The flap of skin over their beaks, called a “snood,” also reddens.
Iceland’s last McDonald’s burger was sold eight years ago …Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
… and you can still see it today. Its home is in a hostel, but you can catch a glimpse on the 24/7 live webcam stream dedicated to it.
The man with the world’s deepest voice can make sounds humans can’t hearTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
The man, Tim Storms, can’t even hear the note, which is eight octaves below the lowest G on a piano—but elephants can. Check out these 16 little-known facts about the greatest songs of all time.
The American flag was designed by a high school studentTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
It started as a school project for Bob Heft’s junior-year history class, and it only earned a B- in 1958. His design had 50 stars even though Alaska and Hawaii weren’t states yet. Heft figured the two would earn statehood soon and showed the government his design. After President Dwight D. Eisenhower called to say his design was approved, Heft’s teacher changed his grade to an A.
Cows don’t have upper front teethTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
They do have molars in the top back of their mouths though. Where you’d expect upper incisors, cows, sheep, and goats have a thick layer of tissue called a “dental pad.” They use that with their bottom teeth to pull out grass. Check out these 13 weird facts about the human body you’ve always wondered about.
Thanks to 3D printing, NASA can basically “email” tools to astronautsTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Getting new equipment to the Space Station used to take months or years, but the new technology means the tools are ready within hours.
Bananas grow upside-downTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Or technically, we peel them upside-down. Naturally, they grow outward from their stems, but that means their bottoms actually face the sky. As they get bigger, the fruits turn toward the sun, forming that distinctive curve. Check out these 21 food myths that are totally untrue.
There were active volcanoes on the moon when dinosaurs were aliveTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Most of the volcanoes probably stopped one billion years ago, but new NASA findings suggest there might still have been active lava flow 100 million years ago, when dinosaurs were still roaming.
Dogs sniff good smells with their left nostrilTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Dogs normally start sniffing with their right nostril, then keep it there if the smell could signal danger, but they’ll shift to the left side for something pleasant, like food or a mating partner. Learn the real reason dogs follow you everywhere.
Avocados were named after reproductive organsTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Indigenous people of Mexico and Central America used the Nahuatl word āhuacatl to mean both “testicles” and “avocado.” The fruits were originally marketed as “alligator pears” in the United States until the current name stuck. For more random facts, learn what the original word for avocado means about guacamole’s name.
T. S. Eliot wore green makeupTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
The word “fizzle” started as a type of fartTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
In the 1400s, it meant to “break wind quietly,” according to English Oxford Living Dictionaries.
You only have two body parts that never stop growingTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Human noses and ears keep getting bigger, even when the rest of the body’s growth has come to a halt. Learn more about the phenomenon and what it means.
No number before 1,000 contains the letter ATatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
But there are plenty of E’s, I’s, O’s, U’s, and Y’s.
The # symbol isn’t officially called hashtag or poundTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Its technical name is octothorpe. The “octo-” means “eight” to refer to its points, though reports disagree on where “-thorpe” came from. Some claim it was named after Olympian Jim Thorpe, while others argue it was just a nonsense suffix.
The French have their own name for a “French kiss”Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
You can thank the Greeks for calling Christmas “Xmas”Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
In Greek, the word for “Christ” starts with the letter Chi, which looks like an X in the Roman alphabet.
Mercedes invented a car controlled by joystickTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
The joystick in the 1966 Mercedes F200 showcase car controlled speed and direction, replacing both the steering wheel and pedals. The car could also sense which side the driver was sitting in, so someone could control it from the passenger seat.
The U.S. government saved every public tweet from 2006 through 2017Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Starting in 2018, the Library of Congress decided to only keep tweets on “a very selective basis,” including elections and those dealing with something of national interest, like public policy. Here are 18 more interesting facts about Washington, DC, you’ve never heard.
H&M actually does stand for somethingTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
The clothing retail shop was originally called Hennes—Swedish for “hers”—before acquiring the hunting and fishing equipment brand Mauritz Widforss. Eventually, Hennes & Mauritz was shortened to H&M.
Cap’n Crunch’s full name is Horatio Magellan CrunchTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
He’s also been called out for only having the bars of a Navy commander, but the so-called cap’n held his ground on Twitter, arguing that captaining the S. S. Guppy with his crew “makes an official Cap’n in any book!” Don’t miss these other random facts about cereal.
The CIA headquarters has its own Starbucks, but baristas don’t write names on the cupsTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Giraffe tongues can be 20 inches longTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Their dark bluish black color is probably to prevent sunburn.
There’s only one U.S. state capital without a McDonald’sTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Montpelier, Vermont, doesn’t have any of those Golden Arches. It also happens to have the smallest population of any state capital, with just 7,500 residents. Find out the farthest you can possibly be from a McDonald’s in the United States.
Europeans were scared of eating tomatoes when they were introducedTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Scholars think Hernán Cortés brought the seeds in 1519 with the intent of the fruits being used ornamentally in gardens. By the 1700s, aristocrats started eating tomatoes, but they were convinced the fruits were poison because people would die after eating them. In reality, the acidity from the tomatoes brought out lead in their pewter plates, so they’d died of lead poisoning.
Humans aren’t the only animals that dreamTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Studies have indicated rats dream about getting to food or running through mazes. Most mammals go through REM sleep, the cycle in which dreams occur, so scientists think there’s a good chance they all dream. Here are 13 more bizarre facts about dreaming.
The inventor of the microwave appliance only received $2 for his discoveryTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, Shutterstock
Percy Spencer was working as a researcher for American Appliance Company (now Raytheon) when he noticed a radar set using electromagnetic waves melted the candy bar in his pocket. He had the idea to make a metal box using microwaves to heat food, but the company was the one to file the patent. He received a $2 bonus but never any royalties. Here are 16 more random facts about money.