The Mandela Effect: False Memories? Or Alternate Realities?

For those of you who don’t know, the Mandela Effect is a phenomenon that took the internet by storm and blew the minds of social media users. Basically, the concept is when a group of people that have the same false memory. How could thousands of people remember the same thing that never happened… at least in our reality? There are so many theories from time travel to parallel universes.

Photo by Universal History Archive, UIG, Shutterstock / Wqed, Kobal, Shutterstock / Source: Pinterest

However, there is also a very simple scientific explanation. If you ever took a psychology class, you probably know that human memories are extremely unreliable. That’s why witness statements are the least dependable in a court of law. The human mind automatically fills in gaps to “paint a full picture,” and these fill-ins become engrained in your memory- whether they’re true or not. So, why is it called the Mandela Effect? That brings us to example number one.

Nelson Mandela’s Death

After Nelson Mandela passed away in 2013 from a respiratory tract infection, many people were confused. One woman took to the internet, stating that she remembers Nelson Mandela dying in jail back in the ‘90s. Plenty of people remember the same thing. They even remember details of his widow speaking at his televised funeral.

Nelson Mandela with his fist raised behind a podium in 1990

Photo by Richard Young / Shutterstock

There is obviously no footage of this funeral because it never took place. But this isn’t something that ordinary folks just mixed up. There have been history books published stating that Nelson Mandela died in the ‘90s. Either they really need fact-checkers, or something strange is going on. After that, people found other things that many people remember incorrectly, and the term Mandela Effect was born.

The Berenstain Bears

So this is the one that really got people on board with the Mandela Effect. We all remember the children’s book series, The Berenstein Bears. The sweet, country bear family even had a TV show at one point, and I very specifically remember their name being BERENSTEIN! I was in complete shock when I realized I’ve been wrong the whole time.

A photograph of the logo for the Berenstain Bears written with an ‘e’ next to one with an ‘a.’

Source: Imgur

As it turns out, they have been called Berenstain Bears the whole time- “ain” not “ein.” First of all, what kind of name is Berenstain? That just sounds super weird and out of place. Also, you would think one person in the world would recall a name like Berenstain, but, so far, everyone I know remembers Berenstein.

Curious George

We all remember this cute little TV monkey. Curious George is a beloved popular character from children’s literature. As a kid, I was a huge fan and watched the show almost every day. One thing I specifically remember about Curious George is watching him swing through the trees… using his tail!

Curious George with and without a tail

Source: Pinterest

Well… I was wrong. Apparently, Curious George never had a tail. I know it’s weird. First of all, monkeys have tails in general, so why wouldn’t George? Doesn’t it seem like something someone would have noticed and pointed out when we were kids? There is a debate on whether or not he was illustrated with a tail in the books written by H.A. Rey. But nope. Georgy never had a tail.

Rich Uncle Pennybags

Everyone loves the Monopoly Man, aka Rich Uncle Pennybags. The famous fictional businessman was known for a lot of things: his mustache, a top hat, and of course, a monocle. Right? Well… get ready to have your mind blown! If you look at your old Monopoly boxes, you’ll notice that Pennybags never had a monocle!
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The Monopoly Man with and without a monocle

Source: Pinterest

Many folks were shocked and assumed the character had changed throughout the years. I mean, his whole thing was being a rich guy with a monocle. People who dress up as him on Halloween even include a monocle in their costumes. It’s strange, but the character doesn’t have and never had a monocle. Fun Fact: Did you know that Pennywise is based on famed business tycoon J.P. Morgan?

Looney Tunes

Here is another Mandela Effect that threw everyone’s childhood memories through a loop. Looney Tunes is a staple for kids’ entertainment, and Saturday morning cartoons motivated youngsters to get out of bed, even though there was no school. You are probably reading this and think I spelled “toons” wrongs. After all, they were carTOONS, not some kind of musical.

A picture of the Looney Tunes logo, one spelled t-o-o-n-s and the other spelled t-u-n-e-s

Source: Flickr

As you might have guessed, this is another memory you can’t rely on. It was literally spelled Looney Tunes the entire time. Not only does it look wrong, but it just feels weird. Besides the theme song, I don’t really remember Bugs Bunny or his crew singing to me.

Star Wars

Star Wars is an incredible sci-fi franchise with a massive cult following. However, some of the biggest Star Wars fans may have trouble remembering this one. In a quintessential moment in Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader says one of the most memorable lines in movie history, “Luke, I am your father.”

David Prowse as Darth Vader in Star Wars V

Photo by Lucasfilm / Fox / Kobal / Shutterstock

Or so you thought. Apparently, that famous quote is remembered incorrectly. If you watch the movie again, you could clearly hear him say, “No, I am your father.” How could the entire world make such a big mistake? The quote has been referred to numerous times in pop culture, and no one noticed that we were saying it wrong the whole time?

Snow White

Another childhood staple is Disney princess characters. They came with a sense of innocence that made our young minds believe in fairy tales and happy endings. Sure, we grow up, and all those dreams go out the window… but that’s a different story. Anyway, one of the original Disney princesses is Snow White.

The evil queen looking shocked

Source: MoviestillsDB.com / Copyright: Walt Disney Pictures

We all know the story: an evil stepmother, seven dwarfs, and Prince Charming. Who could forget the Evil Queen’s ever so famous phrase, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” All of us, because she never said that. The actual quote was “Magic Mirror on the wall.” The weirdest part about this one is that we all knew it was a magic mirror, yet none of us remember the line that way.

Smokey the Bear

On the topic of iconic childhood characters that will make you question everything you thought you knew, there is Smokey the Bear: the character who appeared in all of those wildfire prevention ads and commercials. Anyway, it’s the longest-running campaign in United States history, so we all came across the character at one point or another.

The US Forest service logo of Smokey Bear

Photo by Granger / Shutterstock

If you’re like me, you remember the character incorrectly. I mean, I specifically recall “Smokey the Bear,” but, as always, I was wrong. While most of us refer to him as Smokey the Bear, his actual name is Smokey Bear. Weird right? If you don’t believe me, look it up for yourself. His website confirms it.

We Are the Champions

After the release of Bohemian Rhapsody in 2018, rock icons Queen earned some renewed publicity. But during their heyday, the rock band had a huge hit song that we’ve all heard at one point or another—We Are the Champions. I thought it was a known fact that, at the end of the song, Freddie Mercury passionately sings the lyrics, “of the world.”

Freddie Mercury in concert

Photo by Graham Wiltshire / Shutterstock

To be fair, the lyrics in the chorus do go, “we are the champions, we are the champions… of the world.” So, it’s not like the lyrics don’t exist. However, if you listen to the song now, the ending sounds off. The song simply ends with “we are the champions, we are the champions.” It just feels like the last three words are missing.

Febreze

Okay, this one really messed with me because when I was in high school, I was obsessed with Febreeze! They had so many different scents. My favorite was the limited edition fresh harvest pumpkin flavor that they only sold around Halloween time, but I loved them all! Imagine my surprise when I found out I have been spelling the brand name incorrectly this whole time.

Two blue bottles, one that says Febreze with two e’s and one that spells it with one e

Source: Pinterest

As it turns out, it’s spelled “Febreze” not “Febreeze.” This is a weird one because I had about 10 of these in my room at all times. I was always looking at them, and I remember Febreeze- like Breeze. How do you remember the spelling? Because this one drives me crazy every time!

C-3PO

So, we already mentioned Star Wars and how the famous line, “Luke, I am your father,” was remembered incorrectly by thousands of people. That’s not the only thing that even die-hard fans missed. There is another Mandela Effect surrounding the franchise. The beloved droid C-3PO is a Star Wars legend, known for being gold.

C3PO and R2D2 in the desert in a scene from Star Wars IV

Photo by Lucasfilm / Fox / Kobal / Shutterstock

If you remember the character being gold and only gold, you may be from an alternate reality like me. If you take a look at the droid, you’ll notice that C-3PO actually has a silver piece on his right leg. It’s super weird. From the knee down, he’s colored silver, and none of us noticed. Well, I didn’t notice, maybe you did.

KitKat

This is my favorite Mandela Effect because it messes with my brain every single time. How do you remember the popular chocolate being spelled, KitKat or Kit-Kat? I specifically remember the dash… very clearly. However, there was never a hyphen, which blows my mind.

Two kit kat bars side by side, one with a hyphen in between the words

Source: Pinterest / 123rf

I didn’t believe this one when I first saw it. I looked up the history of KitKat bars because I assumed if there is no dash, there used to be. They probably just changed the label over the years or something. Nope. I’m sorry to disappoint you and your memory, but it has always been spelled as one word. Don’t feel bad, though; you’ll find plenty of chocolate lovers who will swear there was a dash!

Skechers

This Mandela Effect is another one that will leave you puzzled. It concerns a shoe company that has been around since the early ‘90s. There is a lot of debate surrounding the brand name’s spelling; is it Sketchers or Skechers. I remember Sketchers, with a “T.” How do you remember it?

Two Skechers logos side-by-side, one spelled with an extra t

Source: Amazon

If you remember Sketchers, you are from the same parallel universe that I’m from. Never, in the history of the brand, have they ever spelled it that way. It’s literally always been Skechers; it even looks like its spelled wrong. I guess it kind of makes sense. Why would a footwear brand have the word Sketch in it? If it was an art company, I’d get it, but we’re talking about shoes here.

Cruella DeVil

101 Dalmatians is another classic Disney story for every animal lover out there. As you can tell from the title, the tale focuses on many adorable doggies trying to escape the evil villain Cruella DeVil. The femme fatale’s sinister plot is to selfishly use the puppies’ fur to make herself beautiful coats. She was certainly a memorable Disney villain.

Cruella DeVil in the animated 101 Dalmations movie

Photo by Moviestore Collection / Shutterstock

However, if you ask Disney fans how her name was spelled, they might remember it quite differently. 101 Dalmatian enthusiasts will insist that her name is, or was at some point, spelled DeVille. To be honest, seeing it spelled DeVil just doesn’t look right. Plus, I think I would have noticed if her last name was literally spelled, Devil.

Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump is a must-see for all movie enthusiasts; it’s a huge classic. If you haven’t seen it, you’ve definitely heard of it. The film brought a lot of attention to chocolate boxes thanks to Gump’s (played by Tom Hanks) famous line “Life is like a box of chocolates.” The line has been repeated and referred to countless times.

Rebecca Williams and Tom Hanks sitting on a bench with the box of chocolates in Forrest Gump

Photo by Paramount / Kobal / Shutterstock

Sorry to disappoint you, but that was never actually the line. This one really messes with my brain because when I looked up the scene of the movie, the video says, “Life IS like a box OF chocolates. However, when I clicked on it, Gump very clearly says, “Life WAS like a box of chocolate.” It doesn’t even sound like “is,” so how do we all remember it so wrong?

Mona Lisa

There has been an on-going debate about Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting, the Mona Lisa, and whether or not she is smiling. It’s a thing. There is even a term called “Mona Lisa smile” that is used when you can’t really tell if someone is smiling or not. It’s kind of up to the viewer’s imagination.

The Mona Lisa painting

Photo by Alfredo Dagli Orti / Shutterstock

There is a large portion of the public who believes her expression has changed over time. I don’t know about you, but I remember learning about the painting in school, and the whole point was the debate over her smile. If you look at the picture now, it shouldn’t be a question. That is clearly a smirk if you ask me.

Double Stuf

So here is a cookie and a conundrum for you, and, no, it’s not about the correct way to eat an Oreo. Whole? Or taken apart and eating the cream first? I guess it doesn’t matter as long as you have a glass of milk with it. Anyway, back to the Mandela Effect. Do you remember when the company branded Oreo Double Stuffed cookies?

Two packages of oreo’s next to each other, one spelled with two f’s and the other spelled with one

Source: Pinterest

I do! And I loved them. I was one of those who preferred to eat the cream first, so the more stuffed the cookies were, the happier I was. But if you look at the packaging, something seems off. It has literally been written “Double Stuf” the entire time! Weird, right? You would think since its spelled wrong, someone would have noticed it sooner.

Wite-Out

This is another one that took me by surprise. When I was a student, I loved to go school supply shopping. Maybe I’m weird, but something about the smell of fresh new notebooks, pens, highlighters, and post-it notes makes you feel organized and on the fast-track to a successful school year.

A bottle of Wite-Out next to one spelled with an h

Source: Pinterest / Amazon

If anyone else out there likes school supplies as much as I do, you know that White-Out is essential. However, it has been spelled Wite-Out the entire time. Because Wite-Out is meant to fix all corrections, the spelling choice is clever and ironic. But how did we all miss this? I remember White-Out, so this one truly baffles me!

Pokémon

If you grew up in an era before iPhones, you certainly remember Pokémon cards. They made a comeback a few years back through an App called Pokémon Go. It wasn’t the same as the cards, but we were glad to see out favorite characters come back into the limelight for a while.

A Pikachu with a black stripe on its tail next to one without it

Source: Pinterest

There were plenty of different Pokémon characters, but the most memorable one has got to be the bright, cheerful Pikachu. Even if you know nothing about Pokémon, you definitely remember Pikachu. He was yellow with a black striped zig-zag on his tail, right? Wrong. Pikachu was actually completely yellow and never had the stripe that we all somehow remember.

You Like Me; You Really Like Me!

In an incredibly notorious acceptance speech, Sally Field is quoted famously saying, “You like me, you really like me!” This line has also been repeated on numerous occasions and has become a significant part of modern pop culture. I mean, even if you didn’t know Sally Field was the one who originated it, you likely have heard the phrase.

Sally Field, Best Actress, Places in the Heart

Sally Field, Best Actress, Places in the Heart. Photo by Elisa Leonelli/Shutterstock

The famous line became popular during the actress’s acceptance speech after winning the Oscar award for Places in the Heart (1984). But it turned out that it wasn’t what she said… like, at all. What Field actually said was, “…And I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me! Thank you.” Wow. It’s strange how off we all were.

The Flintstones

Since the ‘60s, The Flintstones have been the most popular stone-age family on the television screen. With so much recognition, it’s hard to understand why so many people don’t actually know how to spell the family’s name. If you’re like me, you might refer to the family as Flinstones, and you would be wrong.

The Flintstones spelled with one t next to The Flinstones spelled with one t

Source: Pinterest / Flickr

Often, the first ‘T’ is dropped, probably because it’s not enunciated when you say it. However, Flintstones was always spelled with two Ts – FinTsTones. This one is just kind of strange because reading it now, the other T is obviously there. There is no reason for me not to pronounce it incorrectly if I read “Flintstones” But somehow, I always thought it was Flinstones.

Jif Peanut Butter

Jiffy is a popular peanut butter brand that we all remember. That’s why you may be surprised to find out that it never actually existed. This one drives folks crazy because people swear Jiffy peanut butter was a thing, but this widespread false memory could only be attributed to one thing, the Mandela Effect.

A Jif peanut butter jar next to a photoshopped logo spelling out Jiffy

Source: Pinterest / Amazon

The correct name of the peanut butter company is Jif. I guess there is psychological reasoning for this one, though. People must have subconsciously combined Jif peanut butter with its leading competitor, Skippy. That, or we’re all in some sort of an alternate reality, and this is a glitch in the matrix. What do you think?

Oscar Mayer

Okay, so out of all the confusing Mandela Effects out there, I think this one takes the cake. Do you remember Oscar Mayer? The meat and cold-cut food company? I sure do. And no, that wasn’t a typo. That’s right, “Mayer” has always been spelled with an “A,” but I distinctly remember it spelled as “Meyer.”

The Oscar Mayer logo next to one spelled M-e-y-e-r

Source: YouTube

The reason people are so baffled by this one is that the commercials included a song, where they literally spell out the name. When I sang along, the lyrics were “My bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R, my bologna has a second name it’s M-E-Y-E-R.” But apparently, the bologna’s second name was always M-A-Y-E-R. But that spells Mayer- like John Mayer! It’s pronounced differently. I’m confused!

Froot Loops

If you are a bad speller, you could attribute it to Kellogg’s, who made our favorite childhood cereal but spelled fruit wrong. The entire time it has been Froot Loops, which is just so strange. I mean, I get that they wanted to throw the cereal in the illustration for the box, but that could have been done with the double O’s that are already in the world “Loops.”

A photograph of two Froot Loops boxes, one spelled correctly and the other spelled F-R-U-I-T

Source: Pinterest / Amazon

Was it really necessary to change the spelling of the word fruit? I mean, they were marketing towards children, the least they could do is not confuse them with the spelling. Good thing nobody remembers this little detail, or there would be a whole generation of people who don’t know how to spell the word “fruit.”

Fruit of the Loom Logo

Speaking of fruit, here is another one that took me for a loop. Do you remember Fruit of the Loom? I remember when I was in middle school, wife beaters and men’s white v-neck t-shirts were suddenly a trend for some reason. It was what I wore for basketball practice every day, and the two leading brands were Hanes and Fruit of the Loom.

The Fruit of the Loom Logo with a basket behind the fruit and one without the basket behind the fruit

Source: Pinterest / eBay

The logo was just the brand name with some fruit and a cornucopia in the background. Pretty simple, right? Well, apparently, that cornucopia was never there. Weirdly, we all remember it because why would our memories add a cornucopia with all that fruit? That’s just so random!

Cheez-It

If you want a delicious snack, Cheez-It is the way to go. It’s a perfect combination of cheddar and salty and is a wonderful addition to any occasion: parties, movie nights, or if you need a break-up snack. You can find it at almost any store that sells snacks, so it’s in our face pretty often. We know that, on the box, its spelled “Cheez-Itz.”

Two Cheez-It boxes, one with an extra z at the end

Source: Pinterest

As it turns out, it has always been “Cheez-It.” I have a lot of issues with this. First of all, if I remember it being spelled incorrectly (Cheez-Itz not Cheese Its), then why do I remember it wrong incorrectly? Also, it’s not like there is one Cheez-It in there. The box is filled with them, so it should be plural. Their spelling and grammar are wrong. But they get credit for staying consistent.

Mr. Rogers’s Theme Song

If you were ever a child, chances are you remember Mr. Rogers. The family-friendly show is kind of creepy if you watch it now (which I had to do for research), but, back then, it was pretty entertaining. The most memorable part of the show was Mr. Rogers’s getting dressed and singing the iconic theme song.

Mr. Roger’s posing on a neighborhood trolley

Photo by Wqed / Kobal / Shutterstock

Every single person remembers the lyrics as “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” Strangely, Mr. Rogers always sang, “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood.” If you listen to the theme song now, it sounds super weird. But the strangest part about this one is that the 2019 movie based on Rogers is called “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Even the movie’s creators remember it wrong.

Lindbergh Baby

When aviator Charles Lindberg’s infant son was kidnapped on March 1st, 1932, the case made headline news. The baby was taken from his crib at night, and the entire world paid attention to the story in the hopes of bringing the baby home safely. Unfortunately, the case went cold… or so people thought.

Charles Lindbergh Jr celebrating his birthday / A newspaper article on the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby from 1932

Photo by Everett Collection, Shutterstock / Granger, Shutterstock

The Lindbergh baby’s corpse was actually found by the side of the road on May 12th. A German immigrant named Richard Hauptmann was arrested and sentenced to death for the heinous crime. This case was a huge deal and received a lot of attention, so the fact that people remember it going cold when it was actually solved is baffling.