The world’s full of wild urban legends. A few of them are true, and the vast majority are not, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still scare ourselves into a teeth-chattering stupor by convincing ourselves otherwise!
1) Pins in Halloween Candy
The Legend: Pretty self-explanatory—some crazy dude puts pins (or something equally messed-up) inside candy or fruit and then gives it to kids on Halloween.
The Reality: Yeah, this has really happened—more than once. The crazy thing? It was decades after the urban legend started floating around before someone decided to actually do it. That’s the problem with some of the legends out there; it only takes one insane person to take them from campfire tale to police lineup.
2) Sewer Alligator
The Legend: Parents (usually in NYC) give a child a baby alligator which they later flush down the toilet when they realize they can't take care of it. In the sewers of the city the alligator grows to an enormous size (because, you know, sewers are known to be a really healthy, nutrient-rich environment for reptiles).
The Reality: Let’s face it—this ain’t gonna work. You can flush as many baby alligators down the toilet as you want. At best you’re going to end up with sad, scared, malnourished, adolescent alligators slowly dissolving in toxic sludge (More likely you are going to get rats with a taste for Cajun cuisine). But don’t give up yet—with a little resourcefulness, we can still approximate the legend. You can make your own giant sewer alligator by duct taping together several regular-sized sewer alligators and training them to move as one like Sesame Street puppeteers. The bad news—it’s only going to fool people from a distance. The good news—up close it’s going to be way more scary than a regular giant alligator.
3) Stolen Kidneys
The Legend: a man goes to a bar where he meets a beautiful woman who invites him back to her motel. Somewhere along the way he blacks out, waking up in a bathtub full of ice with one or more missing kidneys. There is a telephone taped to his hand and a note that says, "call 911."
The Reality: The one case where this actually happened was on a group of homeless people who were told they were going to get free medical help. Then they were anesthetized, de-kidneyed, and sent on their merry way none the wiser (although soon to be peeing blood). It makes the urban legend version sound downright fun.
4) Pop Rocks and Soda
The Legend: If you eat a bunch of Pop Rocks and then drink a carbonated soda, the resulting gasses produced in your gut will cause your stomach to rupture—dramatically.
The Reality: This is another legend where the basic story is true, but the facts are slightly different. It’s not Pop Rocks; it’s lit m-80 firecrackers, and it’s not soda, it’s demolition-grade anhydrous ammonia. With those two simple substitutions, it works every time.
5) Bloody Mary
The Legend: At night, go into a bathroom lit only with a candle. Look at your own reflection in the mirror and say “Bloody Mary” three times. After the third time, you will see Bloody Mary appear behind you (who looks different in different versions of the legend).
The Reality: Ghosts aren’t real. That’s a pretty insurmountable hurdle to making this come true. We're pretty sure we've got a system figured out, but it involves getting our hands on a pair of identical newborns, then raising them for 12 or 13 years in separate, but adjoining apartments where the bathroom mirrors are actually just a pane of glass that looks into the other apartment’s bathroom. We'll make sure they look and dress the same, and if they ever notice that things don't look right in the bathroom "mirror" will just tell them, "oh yeah, I think that's broken, I've been meaning to get that fixed." Then we just wait for them to decide to play Bloody Mary and jump up behind one of them, scaring the other one (There are probably some kinks in the plan we need to work out, but we’ll get back to you in 2025 to let you know how it went).
Have you experienced any urban legends yourself?