60 Weird Facts Most People Don’t Know
Prepare to have your mind blown.
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.
Flamingos bend their legs at the ankle, not the knee
They essentially stand on tip-toe. Their knees are closer to the body and are covered by feathers. This is just the first of many weird facts to blow our minds!
Roller coasters were invented to distract Americans from sin
In the 1880s, hosiery businessman LaMarcus Thompson hated that Americans were tempted by hedonistic places like saloons and brothels. So he set out to straighten up one of the most immoral places he could think of: Coney Island in New York. There, he built America’s first roller coaster to give New Yorkers some good, clean fun—away from seedier pastimes. This is the scariest roller coaster in every state.
Ice pops were invented by an 11-year-old by accident
In 1905, an 11-year-old boy named Frank Epperson left soda powder and water outside overnight with its wooden stirrer still in the cup. The mixture had frozen in the chilly nighttime weather, and so the Epsicle was born. He sold the treat around his neighborhood and a nearby amusement park and even patented the recipe. Years later, he changed the name to Popsicle because that’s what his kids called their pop’s concoction. And if you liked these weird facts, you won’t want to miss these 18 history lessons your teacher lied to you about.
Sloths can hold their breath longer than dolphins can
By slowing their heart rates, sloths can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes. Dolphins need to come up for air after about ten minutes. Here are 27 “facts” about animals you have all wrong.
A woman was elected to Congress before women’s suffrage
American women were given the right to vote in 1920, but Jeanette Rankin became the first woman in the U.S. federal office in 1916. Here are 15 more fascinating facts you never learned about America.
Froot Loops loops are all the same flavor
No point in eating around the purple ones—all Froot Loops taste like, um, froot. Other than the Wild Berry Froot Loops, of course. Here are 8 cereal facts every cereal addict needs.
Supermarket apples can be a year old
These weird facts might have you changing the way you eat. Those fresh apples aren’t all that fresh, per say. They’re usually picked between August and November, covered in wax, hot-air dried, and sent into cold storage. After six to twelve months, they finally land on your grocery store shelves. Here are 13 facts you never knew about apples.
It’s impossible to hum while holding your nose
You just tested it, didn’t you? Normally, when you hum, the air is able to escape through your nose to create the sound, and of course, it can’t do that when you’re holding it shut. This is one of the weird facts you can test out for yourself. Go ahead, try it.
Octopuses have three hearts
Squids do too. One pumps blood to their whole systems, and two are dedicated just to the gills. Learn the truth behind 12 science trivia questions people always get wrong.
Most wasabi paste isn’t real wasabi
Wasabi is expensive, so most companies use horseradish instead. Real wasabi is actually milder than what you’ve been getting with your sushi. Here’s the real reason why you shouldn’t touch sushi at all-you-can-eat buffets.
People used to say “prunes” instead of “cheese” when having their pictures taken
In the 1840s, a big—dare we say, cheesy—grin was seen as childish, so one London photographer told people to say “prunes” to keep their mouths taut. And that look predated today’s “fish face” selfie by, oh, about 180 years. Incidentally, the first selfie was really invented in 1839 by this guy.
In the Philippines, McDonald’s serves spaghetti
Some of these weird facts are very unexpected. The pasta comes with a beef tomato sauce and a piece of “McDo” fried chicken.
Dunce caps used to be signs of intelligence
Thirteenth-century philosopher John Duns Scotus believed that a pointed cap would help spread knowledge from the tip to the brain, and his “Dunsmen” followers wore them as a badge of honor. In the 1500s, though, his ideas became less popular and the meaning of the Duns cap was turned on its head, becoming something of a joke. Here are 14 more words you didn’t know were inspired by real-life people.
Adolf Hitler was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize
Don’t worry, the Swedish politician who sent the letter of nomination in 1939 meant it ironically and withdrew his nomination. In an even more ironic twist, Hitler had banned Germans from accepting the awards four years before his own name was thrown in the ring.
Lobsters taste with their feet
Tiny bristles inside a lobster’s little pincers are their equivalent to human taste buds. Meanwhile, lobsters’ teeth are in one of their three stomachs. Lobsters are one of these foods some professional chefs cook in the microwave.
The British royal family is named after Windsor
You’d think Windsor Castle was named after the House of Windsor, but it’s the other way around. The royal family changed its name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in 1917 so it would sound less German and chose Windsor because they had ties with the English town.
3 Musketeers bars got their name because they used to come with three flavors
The original 3 Musketeers bars of the 1930s came in three-packs, with a different nougat flavor in each: vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry. World War II rations made that triple threat expensive, so the company cut down to one. These vintage candy ads will make your sweet tooth long for the past.
Before toilet paper was invented, Americans used to use corn cobs
Alternatively, they’d use periodicals like the Farmers Almanac, which was designed with a hole so it could hang in outhouses. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all. If corn could talk, here’s what it would tell you.
The Empire State Building has its own ZIP code
It’s home to 10118. And finally, we’ve found out what zip code really stands for.
The shortest war in history lasted 38 minutes
When the sultan of British-protected Zanzibar died and a new one took over without British approval in 1896, the Brits were not happy. Tension escalated when Sultan Khalid bin Barghash refused to step down, but the British warships spent less than 40 minutes bombarding the palace before Khalid fled, marking the (very quick) end of the Anglo-Zanzibar War.
Blue whale tongues can weigh as much as an elephant
Their hearts, meanwhile, can weigh almost a ton and needs to beat just once every ten seconds. If you’re enjoying these weird facts, learn more exciting truths behind these 23 animal “facts” you have all wrong.
The world’s largest waterfall is underwater
Yes, there are waterfalls under the ocean. At the Denmark Strait, the cold water from the Nordic Sea is denser than the Irminger Sea’s warm water, making it drop almost two miles down at 123 million cubic feet per second. Here are the most gorgeous above-land waterfalls in every state.
Michelangelo wrote a poem about how much he hated painting the Sistine Chapel
One translation of the poem he sent to his friend begins:
I’ve already grown a goiter from this torture,
hunched up here like a cat in Lombardy
(or anywhere else where the stagnant water’s poison).
Doesn’t sound like he was too thrilled with his task. These are the secret messages you can find in the world’s most famous paintings.
Queen Elizabeth II has a stand-in to make sure the sun won’t get in her eyes
Ella Slack has a similar height and stature to the queen, so before big events, she’ll do a rehearsal to avoid any royal pains like the sun getting in Her Majesty’s eyes. Slack has been doing it for three decades but isn’t allowed to sit in the throne, so she has to squat above it. Here are a few more things you probably didn’t know about Queen Elizabeth II.
Shadows are darker on the Moon
On Earth, the atmosphere scatters more sunlight, so our shadows aren’t too dark. But on the Moon, shadows are so dark that Neil Armstrong said he had trouble seeing where he was going. For more weird facts, don’t miss these other strange and spooky facts about the Moon.
The inventor of the Internet regrets the URL setup
Tim Berners-Lee, who created the main software of the World Wide Web, admitted he regrets one thing: Adding “//” after “https:” in a web address. It was standard for programming but didn’t serve any real purpose, and when looking back in 2009, he said leaving it out would have saved time and space. We guess we can forgive him. Don’t miss these 11 keyboard shortcuts that make web browsing 10 times easier.
The Statue of Liberty used to be a lighthouse
About a month after the statue’s 1886 dedication, it became a working lighthouse for 16 years, with its torch visible from 24 miles away. Here are 20 of the most beautiful lighthouses in America.
Strawberries aren’t berries
Neither are raspberries and blackberries, according to botanists. True berries stem from one single-ovary flower and have two or more seeds. Strawberries don’t fit that bill, but bananas, kiwis, and watermelon do. Quit falling for these other 51 facts that you’ve always believed but are actually false.
The U.S. treasury once printed $100,000 bills
Between December 18, 1934, and January 9, 1935, the notes with Woodrow Wilson’s face were issued to Federal Reserve Banks but never went out to the general public—which is probably for the best. Can you imagine losing that bill? Here are 15 more weird facts you never knew about American money.
A flock of ravens is called an “unkindness”
They’re also known as a “conspiracy,” which is equally creepy. Here are 10 weird animals you won’t believe are actually real.
NASA uses countdowns because of a sci-fi film
The countdown Fritz Lang used to create suspense in the rocket launch scene of his 1929 silent film Frau im Mond didn’t just change film history—it also inspired NASA to use countdowns before its own blastoffs. It’s not exactly a race against the clock though. NASA can feel free to pause the clock to check mechanical difficulties. Memorize these other 24 astronomy facts you never learned in school.
ManhattAnts are an ant species unique to New York City
Biologists found them in a specific 14-block strip of the city. Here are 13 bizarre bug facts that will totally freak you out.
“Fancy riding” on bikes is illegal in Illinois
That includes riding without hands or taking your feet off the pedals when you’re on the street. Don’t miss the other dumbest laws in all 50 states.
“OK” most likely stands for fake words
In the 1830s, people jokingly spelled abbreviations incorrectly. One of the most famous: “All correct” turned into “orl korrekt,” and then of course into OK. Historians think it stuck because Martin Van Buren—known as Old Kinderhook, after his hometown in New York—supporters called themselves the OK Club when he was campaigning for reelection.
The Eiffel Tower was originally intended for Barcelona
The Spanish city thought the design was too ugly, so Gustave Eiffel pitched it to Paris instead, as a temporary landmark during its 1889 International Exposition. French critics didn’t like it much either though. Don’t miss these 19 fascinating facts about the Eiffel Tower.
Queen Elizabeth II’s cows sleep on waterbeds
They apparently help ease the cattle’s pressure points.
“Albert Einstein” is an anagram for “ten elite brains”
Seems fitting. Need more weird facts? Check out these other 30 mind-blowing facts about the brain.
British military tanks are equipped to make tea
There’s a boiling vessel inside so crew can make tea and coffee anytime—including during battle. How frightfully English. There’s a reason why you work better in coffee shops.
Researchers once turned a live cat into a telephone
Princeton researchers Ernest Wever and Charles Bray took out a cat’s skull and most of its brain to connect the animal to electricity. When they spoke into the cat’s ear, the sound could be heard through a phone receiver in another room. The twisted experiment paved the way for cochlear implant developments. Don’t miss these other 18 cool science facts you never learned in school if you’re really into these weird facts.
PEZ candy was invented to help smokers quit
The Austrian PEZ creator named the candies after the German word for peppermint (Pffefferminz). When they were introduced in 1927, they were round mints sold in tins, so you probably wouldn’t see a former chain smoker with a Mickey Mouse dispenser.
There’s only one Shell gas station shaped like a shell
Eight were built in the 1930s, but the only one left is in North Carolina. Here are more of the weirdest roadside attractions in every state.
William McKinley was shot right after giving away his good-luck charm
President McKinley always wore a red carnation for good luck but sometimes gave it out as a memento. When greeting the crowd in 1901, he handed a 12-year-old girl, Myrtle, his the bloom off his lapel, saying “I must give this flower to another little flower.” Minutes later, he was fatally shot by a man in the crowd. Here are a few more astonishing facts about U.S. presidents.
You can see four states from the top of Chicago’s Willis Tower
From the top of the former Sears Tower on a clear day, you can see about 40 to 50 miles away—beyond Illinois and out to Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
There’s a reason why passports come in four colors
Here’s a weird fact that might surprise you. Have you ever wondered why there isn’t a hot pink passport? The reasoning is because most countries prefer dark shades of red, green, and blue since these dark colors look more official and if they’re dirty, it’s not as noticeable.
Scotland has more than 400 words for snow
There are a lot of weird facts out there. But how many of them involve word choice? In Scotland, yes, there are more than 400 words for snow. There are 421, to be exact!
The world’s largest national park is located in Greenland
There are a lot of weird facts that people don’t know. Northeast Greenland National Park is conveniently also located on the world’s largest island. This remote national park is huge at 375,000 square miles. Thinking of visiting? Here are 15 beautiful photos of the world’s largest national park to spark your wanderlust.
The Eiffel Tower took exactly 2 years, 2 months, and 5 days to create
There are many stunning places in France. The Eiffel Tower, one of the most recognizable structures in the world, took a long time to make. Over two years, in fact!
There’s an American flag on royal wedding souvenirs
The wedding of Prince Harry to American Meghan Markle brought much fanfare and excitement and that shows on souvenirs, including this coffee mug. Bet you didn’t expect to find an American flag from this wedding! Here are a few more interesting places to find American flags. In case you’re wondering what happened to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, here’s exactly what it means to “step back” from royal duties.
There are 5 countries in the world that don’t have airports
If you’re a jet-setting traveler, it’s hard to imagine not having an airport nearby for your next family gathering or work event. However, Vatican City, San Marino, Monaco, Liechtenstein, and Andorra somehow make it work! Here’s why these five countries don’t have airports. If you’re looking for an around-the-world adventure, here’s how much that would actually cost.
Yes, bleach expires
Did you know that household bleach expires? It’s news to us, too! This home cleaning product lasts about six months.
The smallest country in the world (by landmass) is Vatican City
This tiny country measures 0.02 square miles and even prints its own maps! Here are a few more facts about Europe you probably haven’t heard yet.
Cars can easily reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit
You might be driving along the highway and not notice how hot your car is getting. But when you pull over for a while, your car can reach intense degrees. That’s one of the reasons why it’s recommended you should never leave food in your car for long periods of time.
Cucumber slices can fight bad breath
Here’s a weird fact you might know: cucumbers can fight bad breath! If you don’t have a mint on hand, use a slice of cucumber! Here are a few more extraordinary uses for everyday foods.
The last letter added to the alphabet was actually “J”
You might think that the letter “Z” is the last letter added because it’s the last letter of the alphabet, but that’s incorrect. It’s actually “J.” The alphabet that we know and love today wasn’t created alphabetically, too! Here’s the real reason why the last letter added to the alphabet was “J.”
The shortest railways in the world take less than a minute
The shortest funicular railway is Fisherman’s Walk Cliff Railway located in Bournemouth, England and Angels Flight, located in Los Angeles, advertises on its website that it’s the shortest railway in the world. Now that your brain is filled with these weird facts, check out these other 100 interesting facts about basically everything.
- History.com: “Jeannette Rankin”
- Telegraph: “50 fascinating things you (probably) didn’t know about the Statue of Liberty”
- Today.com: “Sorry, Froot Loop ‘flavors’ all taste the same”
- PRNewswire: Kellogg’s® Wild Berry Froot Loops® Flies Onto Shelves
- The Guardian: “Just how old are the ‘fresh’ fruit & vegetables we eat?”
- Dummies: “Improving Your Singing: Moving Air through the Nose”
- Mental Floss: “3 Creatures with More than One Heart”
- AllRecipes: “What’s Really In That Green Paste You Call Wasabi?”
- The Washington Post: “Why people used to look so serious in photos but now have big smiles”
- The Register-Mail: “Jay Talking: ‘Stupid’ laws; tropical Whoppers; no roast beef for me”
- Atlas Obscura: “The Dunce Cap Wasn’t Always So Stupid”
- Nobel Prize: “Facts on the Nobel Peace Prize”
- Gulf of Maine Research Institute
- LeafTV: “The History of the 3 Musketeers Candy Bar”
- TodayIFoundOut: “Toilet paper wasn’t commonly used in the United States until the early 20th century”
- Farmer’s Almanac: “The Hole in the Farmer’s Almanac”
- The Empire State Building
- Historic UK: “The Shortest War in History”
- BBC: “The anatomy of a whale”
- Ocean Service: “Where is Earth’s largest waterfall?”
- NASA: “Apollo astronauts noticed something very strange about shadows on the moon”
- LiveScience: “Pulling Out Feathers: Group Living Stresses Ravens”
- The New York Times: “The Web’s Inventor Regrets One Small Thing”
- Stanford Magazine: “Bananas are berries?”
- LiveScience: “Why are bananas berries, but strawberries aren’t?”
- Money Factory: “Denominations Above The $100 Note”
- Apollo Flight Journey
- The New York Post: “New breed of ruffi-ant found in Manhattan”
- Harvard Magazine: “Hearing through the body”
- Pez: History
- Google new
- The Sky Desk
- National Aviary: American Flamingo
- Smithsonian Channel: “The rollercoaster was invented to save America from Satan”
- NPR’s the Salt: “How an 11-year-old boy invented the popsicle”
- London Zoo: Sloth Facts