Month in Review: August's Most Popular Stories


Numbers-wise, August was our best month ever. Remember when Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris' home run record? Our August stats were like that, except if instead of hitting 70 home runs, McGwire had started a website and racked up 22,000,000 pageviews. Thanks to all 7-million-plus of you who stopped by. Here's a look back at some of the stories that helped attract an audience slightly larger than the population of Holland.

1. Symbolism & the $1 Bill
by Ethan Trex

Crack open your wallet, pull out everyone's favorite portrait of George Washington, and get ready to learn about some odd symbolism that probably seemed perfectly normal in the 18th century.

2. Why is 10:10 the Default Setting for Clocks & Watches?
by Matt Soniak

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A reader wrote in to ask why clocks and watches are always set at (roughly) 10:10 in the store. Here's the explanation...

3. Why Do Shells Sound Like the Ocean?
by Matt Soniak

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No matter what your mom or dad or grandparents told you, and no matter how much it may sound like the rolling waves, it's not actually the ocean you're hearing. Matt Soniak explains.

4. Get Rich Quick: 6 People Who Accidentally Found a Fortune
by Rob Lammle

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Here are six stories of people who found a fortune when—and where—they least expected it. This will get you fired up to hit up some garage sales...

5. Unsettling Old Photos of the "Living" Dead
by Ransom Riggs

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Ransom Riggs recently stumbled upon a sub-genre of the Victorian mourning portrait in which photographers clamp and pose the dearly departed in such a way that they look fully awake — usually standing up, eyes either held open by some unknown mechanism (shudder) or with pupils painted over closed eyes, to very, very creepy effect.

6. 5 Things You Don't Know About IKEA (But Should!)
by Mac Carey


It's estimated that 10% of living Europeans were conceived on an IKEA-produced bed. It's time you learned a little more about the company and its continuing quest to install flat pack, streamlined fixtures across the seven continents.

7. 31 Unbelievable High School Mascots
by Jason English

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The Hoboes? The Sugar Beeters? The Awesome Blossoms? Can you top these 31 amazing mascots?

8. The White House Gift Guide: 13 Unique Presidential Gifts
by Scott Allen

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Here's a look back at some unique presidential gifts, from a bowling alley (Truman) to a lemon carved to look like a pig (Hayes).

9. Revisiting 8 Sesame Street Rumors
by Joe Hennes

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Are Bert & Ernie lovers? Is Cookie Monster becoming "˜Veggie Monster'? Here's a look at a few nagging Sesame Street rumors and whether there's any truth behind them.

10. 10 People Who Made a Fortune During the Depression
by Greg Sabin

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Even during our country's worst economic downturn, some folks still knew how to make a buck—many bucks, in fact.

More August Highlights

Ransom Riggs took us on a few photo tours last month. My favorite was his trip to the Mojave Desert's airplane graveyard.
In early August we welcomed a new monthly contributor, Bud Shaw of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. He introduced himself, then wrote a great piece about memorable sports promotions. Bud's next column should be up next week.
Ethan Trex's look at bizarre stipulations in wills was a big hit this week on

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Stacy also put together a list of companies Warren Buffett owns, from Ginsu Knives to Orange Julius.
If you're up for a literary pilgrimage, Linda Rodriguez has some ideas.
Thanks to Kara Kovalchik, next time you're playing Trivial Pursuit, you can wow/distract/annoy your competitors with some fun facts about the game's origin.
You probably know about Gary Powers' role in escalating the Cold War. But how'd he get out of Soviet prison? And whatever happened to him? Eric Johnson brought us up to speed.
David Israel told us about some famous people who used to be cab drivers; Ethan did the same thing with former ad wizards.
And finally, here's a look back at the history of shaving.

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We've also had some good times on Twitter. For amazing facts, 140 characters at a time, follow @mental_floss.

Here's to not experiencing a dramatic drop-off in September!
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I'll leave you with the Top 9 t-shirts sold last month in the mental_floss store...

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Stop by our store and add one to your t-shirt drawer today.