Our 35 Most Popular Stories of 2019

Damir Khabirov/iStock via Getty Images
Damir Khabirov/iStock via Getty Images / Damir Khabirov/iStock via Getty Images

Mental Floss readers are a curious bunch. Need proof? Look no further than our list of the year's most popular stories, which covered everything from how much those Beanie Babies gathering dust in your attic might be worth to the life and legacy of Rosa Parks.

1. The 10 Most Valuable Beanie Babies That Could Be Hiding in Your Attic

Emmanuel Morales, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Beanie Babies like the purple Princess Diana bear are listed for $600,000 on eBay, but how much money are the nostalgic toys really worth? We dug into the details.

2. Why Do Dogs Kick Their Feet After They Poop?

Dogs that dig into the ground after relieving themselves aren't trying to bury their waste. They're leaving a fecal message for other dogs.

3. The 25 Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time Worldwide

Shortly after grossing $2 billion in record time, Avengers: Endgame officially became the highest-grossing movie of all time—knocking James Cameron's Avatar, which had held the top spot for a full 10 years, to runner-up status.

4. 10 Examples of the Mandela Effect

Tom Cruise stars in Risky Business (1983).
Tom Cruise stars in Risky Business (1983). / Warner Home Video

Did Tom Cruise really dance in his underwear and a pair of Ray-Bans in Risky Business? If you answered “yes,” you might be suffering from the Mandela Effect.

5. If You Can Correctly Pronounce Every Word in This 1920s Poem, You’re Among the English-Speaking Elite

English is a tricky language to learn. Native speakers may take this for granted, failing to realize how intricate—and inconsistent—many of its pronunciation rules are. But how good are you?

6. 6 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out to Be True

Humans love conspiracy theories, and always have (there’s even evidence that ancient Romans had a few). But with the advent of the internet, they seem to be everywhere—and some of them are actually true.

7. McDonald’s Happy Meals Now Come With Roald Dahl Books Instead of Toys in New Zealand

Would you like a Matilda or BFG to go with your burger and fries? If you're a young Kiwi, you just might have gotten your wish in 2019.

8. The 35 Best-Selling Albums in American History


What albums are most beloved by Americans? Well, a lot of us seem to own the Eagles's Greatest Hits.

9. Why You Should Never Rinse Your Dishes Before Putting Them in the Dishwasher

If you give your plates and bowls a quick rinse before sticking them in the dishwasher, you may be surprised (and disgusted) to learn that it doesn’t make them any cleaner.

10. 10 Highest-Grossing Movie Franchises of All Time

Star Wars has a long way to go to catch up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

11. 10 Bizarre Documentaries That Are Stranger Than Fiction

Top Knot Films

If these were fictional stories, you'd have a hard time swallowing them.

12. The Right Way to Pet a Dog, According to Veterinarians

Much like humans, dogs are complex creatures with a wide range of personalities.

13. 45 Amazing Facts About All 44 American Presidents

Discover which American president wanted to be a concert violinist, which carried a dictionary around in his pocket, and who burned his official White House portrait.

14. Why You Should Always Leave the Cap on a Plastic Bottle Before You Recycle It

Many of us were taught to crush plastic bottles and leave the cap off. As it turns out, that isn't the best approach.

15. The 100 Most Popular Baby Names of 2019

ideabug/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re looking for a baby name that sounds cool or unique, Posie and Milo could be a good place to start.

16. You've Been Assembling Your Hard-Shell Tacos all wrong

There's a simple trick for preventing your crunchy hard-shell taco from breaking apart in your hand.

17. 30 Hilarious German Insults You Should Start Using Immediately

Some of these insults are amusingly innocent-sounding, while others are pretty devastating—so let’s hope you don’t wind up on the receiving end of one of those.

18. The Classic Novel That Is Most Often Abandoned By Readers

Just because you buy or borrow a book doesn’t necessarily mean that you'll actually finish—or even start—reading it. Though tracking which books don’t get finished is not an exact science, people have tried to figure it out.

19. 10 Surprising Facts About Animal Sex

iStock/Dias Studio

When the filmmakers behind Jurassic Park wanted to create velociraptor sounds, they used recordings of tortoises getting it on.

20. Robert Downey Jr. Improvised One of Iron Man's Most Memorable Lines

Though Iron Man made it seem as if Tony Stark was the role Robert Downey Jr. was born to play, Marvel actively rooted against casting him.

21. 11 Secrets of Target Employees

Target employees, or “team members,” adhere to a company policy of going out of their way to make sure customers leave happy. A number of current and former associates told us about life under the bull's-eye.

22. What's the Difference Between a Possum and an Opossum?

Possum and opossum are sometimes synonyms—but sometimes they refer to different animals. (Also, there's a chance you've been pronouncing opossum wrong all along.)

23. The Best Bookstores in All 50 States

Robert Kim, Getty Images

From their resident cats to that old book smell, there's something about wandering up and down the aisles of a brick-and-mortar bookstore that online merchants could never replicate.

24. The Ingenious Reason Medieval Castle Staircases Were Built Clockwise

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones or medieval programs in general, you’re probably familiar with action-packed battle scenes during which soldiers storm castles, dodge arrows, and dash up spiral staircases. And, while those spiral staircases might not necessarily ascend clockwise in every television show or movie you’ve watched, they usually did in real life.

25. 8 Inspiring Facts About Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks's historic arrest isn’t the only thing she should be remembered for.

26. The Reason Behind Those Brightly Colored Balls Along Power Lines

If you've ever driven past those colorful balls strung up along a power line, you might have wondered about what purpose they serve—a thought that usually disappears as soon as the balls have faded from your rearview mirror.

27. The Reason Why Your Car Window Is Edged With Tiny Black Dots

Those little polka dots circling your windshield might be easy to miss, but they actually serve a few crucial functions.

28. 25 Amazing Books by African-American Writers You Need to Read

Background: iStock. Book Covers for "Invisible Man" and "The Underground Railroad": Amazon. Book Cover for "The Hate U Give": HARPERCOLLINS.

From literary icons to fresh, buzzworthy talent, we highlighted 25 books by African-American authors you should add to your reading list today.

29. Why Marvel Didn't Want to Cast Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man

Further proof that Tony Stark is the role Downey was born to play.

30. The True Story Behind Gentleman Jack: 10 Facts About Anne Lister

Anne Lister was a businesswoman, a mountaineer, a world traveler, and a science enthusiast. But it’s her love life that she’s mainly remembered for today.

31. This Test Will Tell You How Many Books You Can Read in a Year

The average person in the U.S. reads about 12 books per year—but that number won't help you if you read at a different pace than the average American.

32. 10 VHS Tapes That Are Worth Money (No, Really)


Normally relegated to junk bins, some VHS tapes are in demand by collectors due to their scarcity, nostalgia value, or cool box art.

33. 8 Facts About the Animals of Chernobyl

Researchers thought the site of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster was unable to support life. But a bunch of wolves, deer, wild boars, bears, foxes, and dogs disagreed.

34. 50 Things Turning 50 in 2019

From the first manned Moon landing to Monty Python, here are 50 things that marked a half-century on this planet (and beyond) in 2019.

35. 12 Surprising Facts About Emilia Clarke

Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Emilia Clarke became a household name playing Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones, but she still goes largely unrecognized in public.