Our 40 Most Popular Stories of 2022

Mental Floss readers wanted to know all about dogs, dogs, and dogs in 2022.
Mental Floss readers wanted to know all about dogs, dogs, and dogs in 2022. / Photo: MediaProduction/E+ via Getty Images; Background: Salamatik/iStock via Getty Images

Here at Mental Floss, we pride ourselves on being a home for all things curious and quirky—as evidenced by our daily lineup of stories, which might include asking pilots about whether an average passenger could be talked through how to successfully land a plane to the complicated history of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The goal of our writers and editors has always been to uncover little-known details about subjects you thought you knew everything about and share them with you in a way that’s both entertaining and informative, and to make you want to share these stories with others. 

So what did we discover in 2022? That you, our devoted readers, have a lot of questions about trucks; love finding simple recipes and tips for upping your cooking game; want to know more about your pets; and, like the rest of the world, are pretty Wordle-obsessed. Here are our 40 most popular stories of 2022, in case you missed any of them.

1. What Are Those Plastic Strips Hanging Off Truck Wheels?

Large semi truck hauling freight on the open highway in the western USA under an evening sky.
Our readers really liked learning about trucks. / RichLegg/Getty Images

The curious truck accessory may have caught your eye on the road. Here’s how a tiny plastic strip keeps drivers safe.

2. The Best Sunscreens, According to Dermatologists

Protect your skin all year-round with the best sunscreens recommended by experts.

3. How to Make Delicious Ice Cream at Home With Just Four Ingredients and a Mason Jar

You don’t need fancy equipment to make homemade ice cream—just a mason jar and some elbow grease.

4. The 20 Coldest States in the U.S.

If snow sports and curling up with a good book and steaming mug of tea are your favorite activities, you might want to consider moving to one of America’s chillest states.

5. What’s the Meaning Behind the Metal Stars You Often See on Old Houses?

The five-pointed star is common in the northeast and has been rumored to represent everything from the Amish to swingers.

6. 36 Fun Wordle Alternatives for Every Kind of Puzzle Fan

Wordle on a smartphone
We can’t get enough of Wordle, either. / Brandon Bell/Getty Images

No matter what you’re a fan of—math, music, Star Wars, you name it—there’s probably a game like Wordle out there for you.

7. Why Royal Family Members Are Buried in Lead-Lined Coffins

Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest in 2022 in an oak coffin designed for her more than 30 years ago—which weighed a ton, because it was lined with lead. Here’s why.

8. The Perfect Buttermilk Biscuits Require Just Three Ingredients

Instructions for making biscuits can be complicated, but this three-ingredient, five-step recipe is hard to get wrong.

9. The 20 Smartest States in the U.S., Ranked

Think your state is wicked smart? Here are the brightest states in the U.S., according to a recent study.

10. Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII’s Most Successful—And Least Known—Wife

Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves
Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves. / ZU_09/Getty Images

Anne of Cleves escaped a joyless family, avoided an unhappy marriage, and jumped at the chance to live her best life.

11. Why Medieval Artists Doodled Killer Bunnies in Their Manuscript Margins

The rabbits are frequently shown wielding weapons as they fight against—and sometimes kill—those who often hunted them.

12. The World’s 25 Most Beautiful Cities, According to Science

If the Golden Ratio is your metric, the most beautiful city in the world is in Italy.

13. What Are Those Plastic Arrows on the Wheels of Trucks and Buses?

The plastic arrows you often see on the wheels of trucks and buses serve an important purpose.

14. 10 Infamous Films That Spelled Disaster For Their Famous Directors

Peru - Iquitos - Werner Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo" paddle steamer left to the elements and slowly rusting away
Werner Herzog’s abandoned ‘Fitzcarraldo’ paddle steamer. / Christopher Pillitz/GettyImages

From Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo to John McTiernan’s 2002 remake of Rollerball, these legendary cult films nearly drove their directors to the brink.

15. Why Five Guys Serves Complimentary Peanuts to Its Customers

The free peanuts offered at Five Guys may double as a not-so-subtle warning sign to customers with allergies.

16. When a College Student Demanded Pepsi Hand Over a Harrier Jet

John Leonard’s demand was simple: All he wanted was for Pepsi to deliver the Harrier jet he believed they owed him.

17. The World’s Top 10 Places to Live

The most liveable cities can be found in Europe and Canada, as well as one in Australia and one in Japan.

18. 15 Dog Breeds With Long Lifespans

Though it’s impossible to predict the age your dog will reach, some breeds do typically live to be older than others.

19. What Is Imitation Crab Made Of?

When imitation crab appears in dishes like California rolls and crab rangoon, its true identity is rarely advertised. So, what is the product really made of?

20. The 50 Best 3-Hour-or-Longer Movies

Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, and Ray Romano in Martin Scorsese's 'The Irishman'
(Left to right) Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, and Ray Romano in Martin Scorsese's ‘The Irishman.’ / Niko Tavernise/Netflix

Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman ranks No. 11, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Don’t worry, Marvel fans: Avengers: Endgame is on here, too.

21. 9 Discontinued Cracker Barrel Menu Items

You can find all sorts of things on the menu at Cracker Barrel—except for these discontinued items.

22. The Rundown on Alexander Hamilton’s 8 Children

Between the Revolutionary War, the fight over the Constitution, and his infamous deadly duel with Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton also found time to father eight children with his wife, Eliza.

23. The 20 Cutest Dog Breeds, According to Science

Some dog breeds are objectively more adorable than others—at least scientfically speaking.

24. Why Do Truck Drivers Attach Stuffed Animals to Their Vehicles?

The next time you see a garbage truck with a stuffed penguin strapped to its grille, know the driver has a good reason—one that may or may not involve warding off ghosts.

25. 24 Novels That Won Both the Hugo and Nebula Awards

Each award is highly prestigious—and only a handful of titles have earned both in a single year.

26. How Peter Gabriel's “Solsbury Hill” Became a Soundtrack Staple

Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel. / Peter Carrette Archive/GettyImages

“Solsbury Hill,” Peter Gabriel’s solo artist debut, peaked at No. 68 when it was originally released in 1977. Then Hollywood came calling.

27. The 50 Most Beautiful Baby Names, According to Science

Naturally, naming babies is still a deeply personal exercise, and you may disagree with linguistics on certain matters.

28. Can You Read the Words Hiding in This Optical Illusion?

The image looks like a spiral pattern at first glance, but if you examine it closely you’ll find two words hiding in plain sight.

29. The 20 Cutest Cat Breeds, According to Science

tan Norwegian Forest cat against red background
Norwegian Forest cats are wonderfully fluffy. / Nils Jacobi/iStock via Getty Images

The most beautiful cat in the world is the one in your house, of course. And if it’s a Norwegian Forest cat, mathematicians might even agree.

30. 8 (Supposedly) Cursed Books

From a diabolical Bible to a mournful Japanese war poem, here are eight texts that have been blamed for madness, misfortune, and death.

31. The Most Popular Baby Names From the Year You Were Born

Michael was the undefeated champ of baby boy names for literal decades ... Then Jacob came along.

32. 11 (Fortunately) Retired Girl Scout Badges

A number of sexist, politically incorrect, and outright bizarre Girl Scouts badges have fortunately been retired in the 110 years since the Girl Scouts of the USA was founded.

33. What Is the Deepest Lake in the World?

Hint: It’s in Southeast Siberia.

34. 11 Discontinued Trader Joe’s Products

Despite outcry from customers, these Trader Joe’s products were pulled from shelves.

35. The Reason Every U-Haul Truck Has an Arizona License Plate

U-Haul Co. Discusses Debt Restructuring
We know what state its license plate says. / Tim Boyle/GettyImages

It doesn't matter what state you rent a U-Haul truck in.

36. The 10 Best Classic Rock Songs to Fall Asleep to, According to Science

From Led Zeppelin to Pink Floyd, here are classic rock’s 10 best lullabies.

37. 10 Words the British Royal Family Won’t Say

If you want to act like a member of the monarchy, choose your words wisely.

38. The Fasting Girls of the Victorian Era: The Story Behind The Wonder

Netfflix’s The Wonder—starring Florence Pugh and based on Emma Donoghue’s book of the same name—isn’t a true story. But it is rooted in real history.

39. The 35 Greatest Westerns of All Time

The Western has been part of cinema since the very earliest days of Hollywood, and has produced some of the greatest films ever made. Here are 35 of them.

40. Why Are There So Many Fountains Featuring Little Boys Peeing?

Photo of Manneken Pis in Brussels, Belgium.
A little lad relieving himself is the Renaissance-era version of the peeing Calvin bumper sticker. / LUke1138/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Modern guidebooks offer nearly a dozen different explanations for why Brussels’ Mannekin Pis statue is relieving himself.