If you ever thought Curious George had a tail or Kit Kat was spelled with a hyphen — you’re not alone. In this Insider article, Mindpath Health’s Zishan Khan, MD, discusses the Mandela effect and its presence in creating false memories.
If you ever thought Curious George had a tail, or that Kit Kat was spelled with a hyphen — you’re definitely not alone, even though neither belief is accurate.
These are just two examples of the Mandela effect, a phenomenon that describes shared false memories.
Paranormal researcher Fiona Broome first coined the term in 2010 after she realized that — contrary to what she had thought — former South African president Nelson Mandela did not die in prison in the 1980s. In fact, he was still alive in 2010 and not in prison.
After Broome shared her experience in an article on her website, she discovered that many others had the same false belief. Broome theorized some of these false memories may have stemmed from errors in news reports or online pranks — although it later turned out that wasn’t the case.
Since then, however, countless people have reported other false memories about everything from song lyrics to product packaging, begging the question: Why does this happen?
Read on for 10 more examples of the Mandela effect — and some theories about what causes it and how to avoid it.
“The Berenstein Bears”
False belief: The Berenstein Bears
Reality: The Berenstain Bears
In 2012, a physics graduate student posted a blog post about the spelling of the children’s picture book series, “The Berenstain Bears.”
The series is named after the creators, Stan and Jan Berenstain, but the blogger felt certain that “Berenstein” was the correct spelling. After sharing their experience on the Internet, they found that many other people also recalled the same incorrect spelling of “Berenstein.”
False belief: Looney Toons
Reality: Looney Tunes
This spelling of the popular cartoon Looney Tunes presents another example of the Mandela effect.
You may remember the second word of the title spelled “Toons.” This makes sense, as an abbreviation of cartoons — but in reality, the word “tunes” refers to the fact that the show incorporated music from Warner Brothers studio’s recording library.
Jiffy peanut butter
False belief: Jiffy peanut butter
Reality: Jif peanut butter
Despite what some may insist, Jiffy peanut butter has always had the name “Jif.”
The confusion may stem from the fact that several other foods have “Jiffy” in the title — like Jiffy Pop popcorn and Jiffy baking mix. Some people may have also mixed up the name with that of Jif’s competitor, Skippy.
Mr. Monopoly’s monocle
False belief: Mr. Monopoly has a monocle
Reality: Mr. Monopoly doesn’t wear a monocle
Rich Uncle Pennybags, the Monopoly board game mascot, does not wear a monocle — despite what you may believe.
This false memory may stem from the fact that another mascot, Mr. Peanut — also often shown with a top hat and cane — does wear a monocle. Moreover, older wealthy men from certain time periods often wore monocles.
Mickey Mouse’s suspenders
False belief: Mickey Mouse wears suspenders
Reality: Mickey Mouse never wore suspenders
If you recall Mickey Mouse having suspenders to hold up his iconic red shorts, you’re far from the only one — but since his debut in 1928, he’s never worn them.
It doesn’t help, of course, that many toy and baby clothing manufacturers included suspenders in their Mickey-related products — and that the mouse’s shorts had two buttons on them, seemingly to fasten suspenders onto.
Portrait of King Henry VIII
False belief: King Henry VIII holds a turkey leg in his portrait
Reality: King Henry VIII holds gloves and a chain in his portrait
Another common distorted memory involves a portrait of King Henry VIII painted by Hans Holbein the Younger in 1537. Some people distinctly remember him holding a turkey leg, when in fact he holds his gloves in one hand and a chain in the other.
Pop culture depictions of the king may add to the confusion. For example, in the 1933 film “The Private Life of Henry VIII,” the king devours almost an entire chicken. While portraying the king in a 2004 episode of “The Simpsons,” Homer Simpson also munches on a turkey leg.
Fruit of the Loom logo
False belief: Fruit of the Loom logo includes a cornucopia
Reality: Fruit of the Loom logo is a medley of fruit
Despite what you may think you remember about the Fruit of the Loom logo, it never included a cornucopia — just a medley of fruit.
Earlier versions of the logo between 1962 and 2003 included brown or yellow leaves, which some may have misremembered as a brown cornucopia.
“Luke, I am your father.”
False belief: “Luke, I am your father.”
Reality: “No, I am your father.”
People often recite one of the most famous “Star Wars” quotes of all time incorrectly.
Darth Vader doesn’t say, “Luke, I am your father,” in the film “The Empire Strikes Back” Instead, he says, “No, I am your father.”
“Mirror, mirror on the wall…”
False belief: “Mirror, mirror on the wall…”
Reality: “Magic mirror on the wall…”
Another film example comes from the Disney classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” The line everyone misremembers as “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” is actually “Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”
As with many other Mandela effect examples, this misquoted line has been perpetuated by pop culture.
There’s even a 2012 film starring Julia Roberts that’s based on the story of Snow White called “Mirror Mirror.”
The film “Shazaam”
False belief: Shazaam is a ’90s film
Reality: Shazaam doesn’t exist
One of the most mindblowing examples of the Mandela effect involves “Shazaam.” You may think “Shazaam” was a ’90s film starring actor and comedian Sinbad as a genie. But try searching for this film on IMDB and you’ll come up short — because it doesn’t actually exist.
It’s possible that many people simply confused this fictional film for “Kazaam,” an actual movie from 1996 in which Shaquille O’Neill plays a genie.
Also complicating matters is the fact that Sinbad starred in a film called “First Kid” that same year. Both “First Kid” and “Kazaam,” the movie starring Shaq, revolve around a hero helping a young boy.
What’s more, Sinbad is an Arabic name, and both his name and his bald head and goatee are often associated with genies.
Why the Mandela effect happens
In one 2022 study, researchers propose that people have a tendency to fill in the gaps in their memory with known information to create a more complete picture. For example, many people believe the animated character Curious George has a tail, when in fact he does not — possibly because all monkeys in real life have tails.
“Many people don’t realize how malleable our memory truly is,” says Dr. Zishan Khan, a psychiatrist with Mindpath Health.
“Input from others can actually change our memories and lead to events being misremembered or even recalling things that never truly happened,” Khan says.
Another study proposed several reasons for false childhood memories in adults:
- False feedback: When an external authority figure tells you something is likely, you may start believing it.
- Imagination inflation: When you’re asked to imagine something happened or existed, you’re more likely to later think it actually did — even when it didn’t.
- Memory implantation: You’re more likely to believe something false when someone else recalls it, too.
According to Khan, new information — either from other people you know, or content you read online and on social media — can easily influence your memories. That information may not necessarily be true. Still, as with a game of Telephone, the misinformation keeps spreading.
What’s more, when you recall an event, you’re more susceptible to believing misinformation about it later on. As you recall the event, your brain forms new connections and associations that can then alter the integrity of the memory itself.
What to do about it
Correcting false memories largely depends on the context of the memory.
If, for example, you personally experienced the memory with friends or family, then you can call upon them to help you corroborate or correct your memory of that event.
However, in the case of the Mandela effect, this approach may not always help since your loved ones may share the same false memory.
Therefore, in that case, Khan says the best thing you can do is challenge false beliefs about pop culture or historical figures by researching and corroborating information from multiple trusted sources.
No matter the context of it, Smith says to always remember that sharing the same false memory with multiple people doesn’t make it any more true.
Read the full Insider article with sources.
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