'Roo's Revenge! A couple of goofballs driving around Australia accidentally crash their car into a kangaroo. They decide it would be funny to prop up the poor animal's dead body, dress it in one of their jackets and take a picture. Turns out, the critter is not dead and it hops away still wearing the jacket. In the jacket pocket are the car keys, plus a passport and wallet.
In some versions, it's a super-expensive Gucci jacket. In others, the animal is a bear and instead of a jacket, it's a baby in a backpack.
This story is so good, Hollywood picked it up. The new movie "Kangaroo Jack" tells the tale of two New Yorkers who put a jacket on the 'roo containing $25,000 that belongs to mobsters.
Picabo's Problem! Famous Olympic skier Picabo Street, pronounced peek-a-boo, is not just an athlete, she's also a nurse who works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a large hospital.
She's a fine nurse. However, Picabo is not permitted to answer the phone there because too much confusion occurs when she picks up the phone and says, "Picabo, ICU."
Total baloney. Picabo's not a nurse, but she can take the joke. Since she was a little kid, she's been teased about her name. (Her parents got it from a town in Idaho that takes its name from a Native American word meaning "shining waters.")
Tragedy Sinks SpongeBob SquarePants! A child on a cruise ship with his parents finishes breakfast and announces he is going to see "SpongeBob." His parents, thinking that he is going to the cabin to watch TV, agree that this is a good idea. In his attempt to visit SpongeBob, who "lives in a pineapple under the sea," the child jumps over the rail and drowns.
Completely false. Such stories "reflect standard parental fears, that TV will have a bad effect on kids," said urban legend expert Barbara Mikkelson. Similar rumors popped up about earlier pop culture characters. Kids were said to be jumping off roofs, while trying to be like Mary Poppins or Superman.
Killer Pop Rocks! A kid ate six bags of Pop Rocks at a party. He then drank a six-pack of Pepsi. The two substances combined in his stomach and exploded, killing him horribly. That's why Pop Rocks were taken off the market in the early 1980s.
This supposedly happened to Little Mikey, the kid in television commercials for Life cereal. But it's all wrong. According to Mikkelson, "Little Mikey," actor John Gilchrist, never exploded. And Pop Rocks plus soda produces only a burp. Pop Rocks makers tried to squelch the rumor, even writing to school principals.
Donkey Kong Should Be Monkey Kong! The giant ape was supposed to be called Monkey Kong, but the Japanese fellow developing the game for Nintendo made a mistake, writing "donkey" instead of "monkey." By the time the translation error was discovered, millions of labels already had been printed.
Some versions of this legend blame mis-typing for the boo-boo. Others say it was a bad phone connection or a blurry fax. Shigeru Miyamoto, the game's inventor, has repeatedly said that he used "donkey" on purpose, to convey a sense of stubbornness.
Tall Tales That Might Never Be Disproved
You Deserve a Beak Today! On Nov. 28, 2000, Katherine Ortega bought chicken wings at a Newport News, Virginia, McDonald's and noticed that one of the wings was not a wing. It was a breaded, fried chicken head, including eye sockets, beak and comb. The evening news carried pictures of the little McNoggin. Around the world, people gagged.
The local health department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture found no other chicken heads, either at the Mickey D's or at the chicken processing plant.
The cameraman who filmed the head said the coating on it appeared to match the coating on the wings. But we'll probably never know if this was a hoax by Ortega.
"We asked her to show us the head," said health inspector Arthur Austin, "but she never did."
Sewer Gators! A colony of alligators lives in the sewers under New York City. People who had them as pets or brought them from Florida flushed them down the toilet when they got too big.
Credit the New York Times and a city sewer official for this one. A slew of urban gator sightings appeared in the Times during the 1930s, including a Feb. 10, 1935, story telling how boys shoveling snow into a manhole "discovered a six-foot gator trying to make his escape from the sewer."
New York's superintendent of sewers, Teddy May, saw a colony of gators "serenely paddling around in his sewers," according to a 1959 book, "World Beneath the City." Experts say this legend couldn't possibly be true. If the cold New York winters didn't do alligators in, the noxious bacteria in sewage would surely kill them. Was May (84 at the time he was interviewed) telling a tall tale or the truth?
Best known among urban legend collections are books by Jan Harold Brunvand, including "The Choking Doberman."