World’s Strangest

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Why Are the Best Competitive Eaters So Skinny?

ALLISON JOYCE/Reuters/Landov Mostly so they don’t die. In 2011, Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas won the first-ever Women’s Division of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest by downing 40 dogs in one sitting. That’s 12,360 calories consumed in 10 minutes … not to mention 800 grams of fat, 1,400 milligrams of cholesterol, and 920 grams of [...]

The Missing Links: Stock Photo or $4.3 Million Masterpiece?

Time For Another Round of Everyone’s Favorite Game: “Stock Photo or Disgustingly Overpriced Masterpiece” Surely that photo shown above must be the former, correct? It has to have cost a few bucks at the most, yeah? There’s no way that sold for $4.3 million, right? I don’t understand the world. * John Hodgman’s Quest to WIn The Cheater’s Cup The [...]

For Flight Attendants, Seniority Means Shorter Skirts

In the current issue of mental_floss magazine (get a free issue!), veteran flight attendant Heather Poole revealed 10 workplace secrets, including this one about the length of her skirt. Our tenure on the job doesn’t just determine which routes we fly and which days we get to take off; it also affects the hierarchy in our [...]

The Top 11 mental_floss Shirts of the Year

If you sign up for a subscription to mental_floss magazine right now, you get a t-shirt for just $4 (feel free to go do that now). Since you’re probably wondering what some of the more popular t-shirts are, here’s a list of the top 11 of 2012 so far: 1. My Patronus is a Bookworm 2. Dodgeball: [...]

The Time Russia Ran Out of Vodka

by Judy Dutton © Yevgeny Khaldei/Corbis At 1:10 a.m. on May 9, 1945, night owls in the USSR heard a radio report that Nazi Germany had officially surrendered to the Soviet Union. Rather than wait until morning to celebrate, citizens took to the streets in their pajamas. The revelry reached such a fever pitch that by the [...]

The Genius Who Invented Brunch

Guy Beringer didn’t set out to invent a new meal. Then he had a few drinks… © Hussenot/SoFood/Corbis The next time you’re enjoying a delightful brunch, be sure to clink your glass to the meal’s inventor, Guy Beringer, and his inspiration: the hangover. The English writer first proposed the idea for the mixed meal in his 1895 essay [...]

Masterpieces: Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights

© Peter Iovino/altafilms/handout/dpa/Corbis In The Artist, George Valentin is a silent movie star who stubbornly refuses to change with the times and embrace talking pictures. It’s a story that echoes the real-life dilemma faced by Charlie Chaplin in the late 1920s. Against all commercial odds, Chaplin gambled everything on City Lights, a silent film that bucked [...]

How the Greatest Prankster in Political History Messed With Richard Nixon

© Bettmann/CORBIS by David Borgenicht and Turk Regan Democratic prankster Dick Tuck began tormenting Richard Nixon in California in 1950, after he became a mole in Nixon’s successful Senate campaign. When Nixon unsuccessfully sought the presidency 10 years later, his opponent, John F. Kennedy, hired Tuck to play practical jokes on Nixon. The day after the first [...]

If the Cops Mistakenly Kick Down Your Door, Who Pays for the Damage?

If the authorities knock down your door while following procedure to catch you in some nefarious act, you’ll be paying for your own door-fixing contractor. But if the cops burst in by mistake, it becomes a trickier issue. Door image via Shutterstock In the United Kingdom, the police pay for their errors, covering the costs on [...]

Taylor Wilson at the White House

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza Last summer we ran a profile of Taylor Wilson in mental_floss magazine. Today the kid was at the White House! Here’s what he was doing there, according to WhiteHouse.gov: President Barack Obama hosts the second White House Science Fair celebrating the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, [...]