Over the years I’ve heard an assortment of interesting urban legends and old wives tales. Usually I’ll just chuckle
and roll my eyes when I hear or read one but then, once the information has penetrated the walls of my cerebral center its sticky claws dig onto the walls of my memory and the rumor slowly injects its poison. Pretty soon, I find myself wondering if what I’ve heard is really true or not. Here are a few of these crazy “legends”…
~ 1 ~
“Vanilla flavoring comes from beavers’ butts” (to paraphrase someone [cough, Amy, cough, cough] who decided to pass on this new ingredient of information to me.)
Say what??!?! That’s a bunch of crazy ka-ka. But then, again…what if it’s true? Unfortunately I couldn’t get it out of my mind, I dreamt of beavers all night long and made sure my vanilla extract contained only “real” vanilla bean extract” before using it in the cookies I baked today. Still, I had to see if there is any truth to such a ridiculous claim.
Ready for this? Yes, folks. Mr. Snopes and Mrs. Wikipedia took a trip down to the dam and took a few whiffs by the beavers’ nests and sure enough, some artificial vanilla flavoring does INDEED come from beavers’ furry derrieres There’s even a scientific word for it: Castoreum. Why don’t they just put that in the Ingredient List along with all the other made-up chemical names for food?
~ 2 ~
“Mascara is made from bat poop.”
I learned this gooey clump of information during my good ol’ skin care selling days. (You see, it wasn’t a complete waste of my time!) This reminds me of the segment from Planet Earth
with the Bat Dung Hill in the Caves episode.
Anyway, let’s see if this is true or if it was just another “Marketing Technique” to scare people into buying the “natural” mascara instead.
FALSE! I feel duped. What a sticky trick!
Aw. Poor Nemo I wonder if Dori uses mascara?….
Speaking of poop. I walked into the bathroom to wash my hands after making some chocolate cookies. I looked down just in time before my bare foot stepped on what looked like a large cookie chunk on the floor. I figured one of the little cookie thieves running around the house had taken one and tried to gobble up the evidence in secret but didn’t realize he (or she?) had left behind their convicting evidence. I bent down to pick it up (and eat it); however, upon further inspection, I quickly realized this was not, in fact, a cookie. And to think what would have happened if I hadn’t gone in there and the baby discovered it before me!
Although, I’m not sure which one I’d rather find in the baby’s mouth, this definitely-not-a-cookie or a live cricket.
~ 4 ~
Ok, one more quick tangent because that reminds me of something else that is gross but taps into deep moral theology. Many of you might have heard this one before. It’s a story told by an old high school friend turned ‘nun’ (religious sister to be catholicly-correct). She says she made some brownies. They are super duper incredible melt-in-your-mouth-and-take-you-past-Go-and-directly-to-Heaven brownies. (I never use hyperbole) The only catch? The contain 1% human guano.
Still want one? Yuck, right? Well, after the initial “ewww” from the crowd she explains that this is a made-up story to relate a point to movie watching and book reading. There are some very excellent movies out there that are fun, creative, and even quite profound. The only catch? They contain that one scene or a few choice words that, when put together, produce a 1% sum of “morality crap”.
~ 5 ~
Some of my favorite “old wives tales” pertain to pregnancy. It’s amazing the things people will tell a pregnant woman just to scare the baby out of her. My favorites are the “heartburn = full head of hair” and the “carrying low = boy”. Although those have been curiously accurate for me…
~ 6 ~
Hmmm, what else…Oh – this is a good one -
“The average woman swallows 6 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime.”
I used this one at most of my skin-care selling parties also. I lick my lips a lot so I could see the logic – especially with all those different fun-flavored lipstick chapsticks we collected as kids. So what do you think? True or False?
False! Doh! I feel silly for smearing that rumor around everywhere now. Although I’m sure some amount of lipstick is swallowed, it’s practically impossible to apply a quantifiable amount without smudging the numbers a little.
~ 7 ~
Since we’re on the subject of skin-care product urban legends, I can sum up my skin-care selling days with two words: “Mineral Oil”.
The schpeel went something like this – “Go home. Turn your skin care bottles around. If you see the words, ‘mineral oil’, ‘petroleum’, or ‘petrolatum’ or anything similar, take your bottle, walk to the trash can and toss it in. “You see, mineral oil comes from crude oil so it is pretty much like going to the gas station and bathing yourself in gasoline – since they both come from the same root source, right? You might as well cover your skin in saran wrap and wait for it to die from dehydration and suffocation.”
And to apply my point deeper under the skin, I brought props. One jar filled with water and another with mineral oil. I dropped a cracker into each jar and we all watched intensely as the cracker in water softened immediately but the one in mineral oil remained intact. If a cracker couldn’t soak it up, how would the skin?
It sounded very convincing, and honestly it still does. But according to this source, it’s a myth to say that “Mineral oil is the worst skin-care ingredient around.”
I’m still not sure. I probably still have a cracker in a jar of mineral oil hiding in a closet somewhere. I’m not sure I want to know what it looks like now…
Alright, I’ve wasted enough time and I can’t think of a 7th one. So it’s your turn. What are some of the grossest or strangest or most outlandish urban legends or old wives’ tales you’ve heard?