10 Facts about Subliminal Messages

iStock / SchulteProductions
iStock / SchulteProductions

Subliminal messages affect the subconscious mind. We're talking visual messages that can be flashed very quickly in a film or buried within a print image and audio messages that are masked by other sounds, played below audible levels or recorded backwards to hide the message. True, scientific research has yet to determine the actual effectiveness of this process, but it's still worth pointing out some interesting tidbits:

1. Both Coke and Pepsi have been caught up in the subliminal messaging fray:

a) Feel The Curves - Coca Cola advertised in Australia with this poster during the eighties. That is, until someone discovered what could be seen in the ice cube on the right. I've blurred it out, but that's not a bottle she's going to put in her mouth! The artist was fired and sued. All posters were recalled and a new campaign was launched.

b) In a promotional campaign by Pepsi in 1990, the company sold cans with a neon-design. If you stacked two of the cans and turned them just right, the word SEX became apparent.

2. All the way back in 1897, The New Psychology published an article about how subliminal messages work. By World War II, a tachistoscope (a machine that projects images extremely briefly and rapidly) was used to teach soldiers how to recognize enemy planes.

3. James Vicary, a market researcher, caused a stir when he reported that he was able to increase popcorn sales at a New Jersey movie theatre through subliminal messages built into the movie. This led to the modern practice of subliminal advertising, despite that he admitted in 1962 that he was lying. Many still debate whether the experiment even took place!

4. A 1973 Christmas advertising campaign for the game H?sker D?? included the subliminal message “Get it.” Complaints flooded in and the FCC ran an investigation. It deemed subliminal messages “Contrary to public interest.” They were never actually banned in the USA, however the same commercial led to a ban in Canada.

5. In an effort to catch the BTK Killer in 1978, TV station KAKE-TV in Wichita obtained permission to run subliminal messages in a report about the BTK killings. The report included the subliminal message “Now call the chief.” No increased volume of tips was reported. The attempt was deemed unsuccessful.

6. George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign included a television ad that featured words and parts of words scrolling across the screen. At one point, a single frame flashed the word “rats” (part of the word bureaucrats). After complaints, the FCC investigated but never assessed any penalties nor blame in the case.

7. On January 27, 2007, the McDonald’s logo appeared for a single frame during the Iron Chef America program on Food Network. This led to accusations of subliminal advertising. In a brilliant move, the Food Network said it was just “a glitch.”
8. Ferrari’s Formula One car and its drivers' jumpers have always been red and always carried the Marlboro logo—one of Ferrari racing’s largest corporate sponsor. However, a ban on tobacco advertising caused Ferrari and Marlboro to design a barcode style logo for the cars and jumpers in 2010. The design was quickly recognized as a subliminal advertisement for Marlboro cigarettes. Even after Ferrari removed the insignia, Marlboro pledged continued support for the team. However, without the benefit of advertising, the relationship between Ferrari racing and Marlboro started to erode.

9. The following movies are said to contain subliminal messages or subtle symbolism (most of the messages are of a sexual nature, so I won't go into detail, but if you Google the film and the word subliminal, you'll find much more):

  • The Exorcist (A detailed article in the July/August 1991 issue of Video Watchdog examined the phenomenon, providing still frames identifying several usages of subliminal "flashing" throughout the film)
  • Psycho 
  • The Rescuers (nudity)
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit ( Jessica Rabbit nudity)
  • JFK-Director’s Cut 
  • The Ring (According to IMDB: Subliminal frames from the Ring video are inserted in the film. For example, the 'Ring' image can be glimpsed for a fraction of a second in the transition between the ferry/horse sequence and Rachel's car drive to Anna Morgan's farm on Moesko Island.)
  • Fight Club (pornographic)
  • The Lion King (original VHS and LaserDisc releases,sexual in nature)
  • Little Mermaid (cover of the VHS box, sexual in nature)

10. There are a pantload of companies out there making money off subliminal messages. These are usually audio recordings that promise to help you with everything from getting a child to stop sucking his thumb to learning a foreign language while you sleep. There is even a program that boasts being able to program your body to use mental birth control—we don’t recommend trying this at home!

Keep Your Cat Busy With a Board Game That Doubles as a Scratch Pad

Cheerble
Cheerble

No matter how much you love playing with your cat, waving a feather toy in front of its face can get monotonous after a while (for the both of you). To shake up playtime, the Cheerble three-in-one board game looks to provide your feline housemate with hours of hands-free entertainment.

Cheerble's board game, which is currently raising money on Kickstarter, is designed to keep even the most restless cats stimulated. The first component of the game is the electronic Cheerble ball, which rolls on its own when your cat touches it with their paw or nose—no remote control required. And on days when your cat is especially energetic, you can adjust the ball's settings to roll and bounce in a way that matches their stamina.

Cheerable cat toy on Kickstarter.
Cheerble

The Cheerble balls are meant to pair with the Cheerble game board, which consists of a box that has plenty of room for balls to roll around. The board is also covered on one side with a platform that has holes big enough for your cat to fit their paws through, so they can hunt the balls like a game of Whack-a-Mole. And if your cat ever loses interest in chasing the ball, the board also includes a built-in scratch pad and fluffy wand toy to slap around. A simplified version of the board game includes the scratch pad without the wand or hole maze, so you can tailor your purchase for your cat's interests.

Cheerble cat board game.
Cheerble

Since launching its campaign on Kickstarter on April 23, Cheerble has raised over $128,000, already blowing past its initial goal of $6416. You can back the Kickstarter today to claim a Cheerble product, with $32 getting you a ball and $58 getting you the board game. You can make your pledge here, with shipping estimated for July 2020.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

9 Outdoor Accessories for the Perfect Backyard Party

Amazon/OtterBox
Amazon/OtterBox

Hosting the perfect party in the great outdoors doesn't have to involve you moving any further than your own backyard. Whether you’re looking for games to play with friends, chairs to keep you comfortable, or tents to turn your yard into your own personal campsite, check out some of these essential products that will transform your own patch of nature into a true outdoor oasis.

1. Wine Tumbler; $20

Tumblers from Otterbox
OtterBox

These wine tumblers from Otterbox will make your backyard the toast of the summer. Made from 100 percent stainless steel and lined with copper, these 10-ounce cups will keep your wine at the perfect temperature until the last s’more is eaten and the fire is put out. Each tumbler holds two standard wine pours and has a sweat-resistant design so you can leave your coasters inside. And each tumbler is fitted with a press-in lid, keeping your drink secure whether you’re taking a walk or playing a game with friends.

Buy it: Otterbox

2. Wood-Burning Fire Pit; $300

Wood-burning fire pit from Wayfair.
Martha Stewart/Wayfair

This steel wood-burning fire pit is exactly what you need to create a little ambiance once the moon is out and friends and family are ready to unwind with some roasted marshmallows. The pit itself is only a few feet across, so you'll be able to build a cozy fire for a handful of people, and the mesh screen that secures over it will keep the sparks away from you and your party. 

Buy it: Wayfair

3. Kabob Grilling Baskets; $17

Kebob grilling baskets on UncommonGoods.
UncommonGoods

No backyard adventure is complete without a tasty meal, and these kabob grilling baskets will help you spend less time on the grill and more time enjoying the beauty of nature. These baskets can be packed with all the ingredients you could ever want for kabobs, and without wooden skewers involved, you’ll avoid any unwanted splinters in your meal. With the ability to customize each basket, you’ll have the flexibility to create the perfect portable dinner for guests (or just for yourself).

Buy it: UncommonGoods

4. Beer Caddy; $25

A beer caddy on Amazon.
LEGACY/Amazon

Beer lovers won’t have to worry about foregoing a cold one while spending some time outside. This soft cotton canvas caddy can hold up to six bottles or cans, and it comes with a removable inner divider, so you have the flexibility of mixing and matching different-sized beverages. Its attached bottle opener—which is hooked to the caddy via a retractable cord— can be stowed in a side pocket for quick access, allowing you to open your drinks with ease.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Outdoor Jenga; $119

A large outdoor Jenga game
Jenga/Amazon

Mix up the usual ghost stories and campfire singalongs with this giant game of outdoor Jenga. Fifteen times larger than the size of a standard Jenga game, these extra-large Jenga blocks can stack up to over 5 feet high and are the perfect size for a deck or beach towel. This set comes with a portable bag for all the blocks so you can easily transport the game from one spot in the backyard to another.

Buy it: Amazon

6. and 7. Camping Chair; $30 and Loveseat Camping Chair; $73

A Colman outdoor chair on Amazon.
Coleman/Amazon

If you’re not a fan of sitting on wet grass or getting bugs on your clothes, this camping chair from Coleman will help you kick back in style. The chair has a cushioned seat and back for maximum outdoor comfort, and it also has a built-in four-can cooler pouch to keep cold beverages handy. It even comes with a nifty side pocket for books, magazines, and newspapers.

An outdoor loveseat that's available on Amazon.
Goplus/Amazon

For anyone who hates toting multiple chairs outside, check out this loveseat-style camping chair! Its ergonomic design seats two people with ease, and it’s supported by a rust-resistant steel frame and weather-resistant fabric for withstanding the elements (or just a shower from a nearby sprinkler). Even though it can hold up to 400 pounds of weight, the chair itself weighs only 11 pounds, making it an ideal choice for anyone who wants to avoid making extra trips to the garage for gear.

Buy itAmazon (camping chair); Amazon (loveseat)

8. Camping Hammock; $29-$40

A hammock that's available on Amazon.
Wise Owl Outfitters/Amazon

If you're one to go a bit horizontal toward the end of a party, take a look at this hammock from Wise Owl Outfitters. Made from heavy-duty parachute nylon, this hammock is incredibly durable and can be secured to trees with a simple set of straps. The hammock comes in two different sizes, a twin and a full, so you can choose the size that's right for you. And best of all? The largest one weighs only 26 ounces, making it easy to take comfort on the go.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Magnetic Door House Tent; $172

A magnetic door house tent on Wayfair.
Wayfair

Mosquitos, flies, and other outdoor pests don’t stand a chance against this portable screened-in porch from Wayfair. This outdoor sanctuary is big enough to fit a picnic table (and all of your friends) inside, and it features two magnetic-close front and back doors. This tent even comes with a 10-year warranty, so you can rest easy knowing that it will provide you with backyard adventures—and zero bug bites—for years to come.

Buy it: Wayfair

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.