7 urban legends you probably believed as a kid in the 1970s
Did you ever believe that gum was made with spider eggs?
As a kid, we probably believed everything an adult told us. We wanted to believe in everything — from time travel to aliens.
Some other stories seemed far more plausible, which probably explains why we continued to consider them truth up until… well, right now, perhaps. These are the urban legends, tales told so often by so many, they have to be a bit true. Right? Alas, not really.
Everyone has likely heard some iteration of "The Vanishing Hitchhiker," or the couple who finds a killer's hook hand hanging on their car door after leaving lover's lane. Urban legends were meant to scare us, to keep us thinking responsibly.
Today, children can debunk these tall tales with a quick Google search. But before the Internet, word of mouth was enough to make these following fables accepted facts.
1. Bubble Yum was made with spider eggs.
When LifeSavers launched Bubble Yum in 1975, it was the first soft bubble gum to hit the market. People wondered how could gum get so soft? So some pranksters answered that question with "spider eggs." The legend became so widespread, that LifeSavers had to take out an ad in newspapers, including The New York Times, to reassure folks that their candy was not made of arachnid eggs.
2. A girl with a beehive had spiders living in her hair.
Speaking of the eight-legged creatures, this gem dates back to the big hair era of the 1960s. Rumor had it that a teenager with a bouffant went so long without washing her perfect, hair-sprayed 'do that a spider took up residence above her head and laid eggs. They hatched, bit her scalp, and she died. Did adolescents really need to be scared into washing their hair this badly?
3. Walt Disney had his body frozen.
The rumor of the animation legend having his body cryogenically frozen continues to linger today. He was supposedly locked up in a vault under Disneyworld with all those limited edition Pinocchio DVDs. That is not the case. Now, Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams? That's a different story.
4. Coke will dissolve a tooth overnight.
Drop a tooth in a can of Coke (you know, if you have a spare tooth lying around) and the poor chomper will dissolve to nothing overnight. Coke is acidic, but not that acidic. This one has roots in a Cornell University professor testifying to Congress in 1950 about the dangers of sugary, acidic drinks.
5. Pop Rocks and Coke killed the Life Cereal kid.
Popular commercial kid Mikey sure liked his Life. The gossip mill said that the actor grew a bit older and experimented with mixing Pop Rocks and Coke. The mixture of the candy and the cola in the stomach caused an explosion, killing him. This one is rather silly, and yet it stuck around for years.
6. People would put razor blades in apples on Halloween.
This nasty behavior certainly seems plausible, but there is no recorded case of it ever happening. Parents just wanted us to be weary of strangers while trick-or-treating. Or, kids wanted to make clear that they would be accepting no fruit on this candy holiday.
7. JFK announced "I am a jelly doughnut" to a German audience.
Americans' misunderstanding of German grammar led to this one lingering for decades. Yes, the President said, "Ich bin ein Berliner." However, it meant what he intended it to mean: "I am a Berliner." Jelly doughnuts are called Pfannkuchen in Berlin. Nobody in the crowd laughed at him. In fact, they cheered.