The Mandela effect is a phenomenon where many people have a collective memory of something that never happened. Are we living in alternate realities, or can the Mandela effect be explained through neuroscience and logic? Find out!
What is the Origin of the Mandela Effect?
The Mandela effect originated with Fiona Broome in 2009, when she discovered she wasn’t the only person to have a false memory of Nelson Mandela’s death. She started a website to record other examples of this experience and has even gone on to publish a book about it.
Why is it Called the Mandela Effect?
It’s called the Mandela effect because the first time someone noticed this error in collective memory, it had to do with Nelson Mandela. Although the South African president didn’t die until 2013, many people remember him dying in the 80s while in prison. Some even remember his widow giving a speech after his death.
Take the Mandela Effect Test
How certain are you that your memories are correct? The Mandela effect is different than being confused or forgetting the details of something that happened. Instead, the Mandela effect is when your memories don’t match reality. Then, to make it even crazier, multiply your experience into a collective memory, where many people are confused about the same thing!
Check your memory with our Mandela Effect test. The answers are at the bottom of each question.
- Is it Berenstein Bears or Berenstain Bears?
Answer: Berenstain Bears
- In the portrait of Henry VIII, is he holding a glove or turkey leg in his left hand?
Answer: A glove
- The creator of Peanuts was Charles Schultz or Charles Schulz?
Answer: Charles Schulz
- Did the Fruit of the Loom logo have a cornucopia?
Answer: No, not even as far back as 1893
- Where did John Lennon and Yoko Ono have their first bed-in for peace? Amsterdam or New York?
- Which is the correct quote from Star Wars? “Luke, I am your father.” or “No. I am your father.”
Answer: No. I am your father.”
How did you do? Still not sure what this is all about? Keep reading for even more examples of the Mandela effect.
51 Mandela Effect Examples
Check out this Mandela effect list of some of the strangest and most perplexing examples.
- The death of Bambi’s mom
Along with the collective trauma we all share from the death of Bambi’s mom, there’s also a mind-blowing Mandela effect.
It’s hard for us to tell you this, but Bambi’s mom doesn’t die at the beginning of the movie.
It’s OK. Take time to absorb that before you move on.
While nearly a whole generation remembers the tragic event happening at the beginning of the movie, it occurs about 40 minutes in. That’s over halfway through the film!
- Totino’s, not Tostino’s
Of all the hot snacks of our childhood, Tostino’s pizza rolls stand out brightly in our memories. Uh, we mean Totino’s.
Apparently, the confusion about this company name was so significant the CEO of Totino’s had to set the record straight on Twitter.
- So this is how democracy dies…
Star Wars seems plagued with Mandela effects, and this quote by Padme is one of them. While many remember her saying “democracy,” the correct quote is, “So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause.”
- The Rock is cooking
Dwayne Johnson is everywhere, and so is his famous quote from his wrestling days, “Can you smell what the Rock is cooking?” We’ve all got it wrong! Instead, it was, “If you smell what the Rock is cooking.”
Yeah, that doesn’t make sense to us, either.
- Avril Lavigne didn’t have milk
If you remember Avril Lavigne wearing a white t-shirt, holding her guitar, and sporting a milk mustache, you might be shocked to find out Avril was never a part of the got milk? Ad campaign. Another conspiracy theory about Avril to add to the list.
- Shock me, baby; it wasn’t plaid.
Britney Spears’ skirt in the iconic music video “…Baby one more time” has some fans remembering Britney in a red plaid skirt. If you watch the music video, it’s just a plain black skirt.
- Throwing some shade on Risky Business
In 1983, Tom Cruise danced across our screens in Risky Business, wearing a button-up shirt, white socks, and sunglasses. If you rewatch the scene, you’ll see Tom is not sporting the sunglasses that are present in just about every parody of this scene.
- The Eagles?
Was the band called The Eagles or Eagles? Some people distinctly remember CD cover art that says, The Eagles. It’s an easy mistake between Eagles and The Eagles, but how could real fans get it wrong?
- Pocahontas’s eyebrows
We all remember Pocahontas had incredible black hair, and of course, her eyebrows were also black, right? Think again. While you might remember her with dark eyebrows, she had, wait for it—red eyebrows.
We aren’t joking.
If you still don’t believe it, check out this video of her singing Colors of the Wind. Feel free to sing along; we did.
- Mister Rogers’s theme song isn’t what you remember
For those who grew up with Mister Roger’s smiling face, and even those who didn’t, the theme song is familiar in American pop culture. But, while we all remember it as, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,” the lyrics are actually, “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood.”
It’s ok; your memory of the song flows better, so there’s no need to change how you sing it.
- The Monopoly Man has perfect eyesight
The board game of all board games—Monopoly. Do you remember Monopoly Man?
Envision him now. He’s wearing a monocle, isn’t he?
Nope. You may be thinking of the Planter’s mascot because Monopoly Man never wore a monocle.
- You got some splainin’ to do!
Despite being widely reputed as Desi’s catchphrase in I Love Lucy, the hard truth is, he never said, “Lucy, you got some splainin’ to do!” or, “Lucy you got a lotta splainin’ to do!”
Things he did say in the show:
- “Splain that if you can”
- “Lucy, if you’ll just give me a chance to ‘splain”
- “Lucy, ‘splain”
- “Okay, start ‘splainin’”
- Mirror, mirror…
Most of us seem to remember the famous phrase from Snow White to be “Mirror, mirror on the wall.” And while this has been recreated and repeated in any number of pop culture references and spoofs, it seems we’ve all got it a little wrong. The correct phrase was “Magic mirror on the wall.”
- Play it again, Sam
Casablanca is a treasure trove of one-liners, but one of the most beloved and oft-quoted lines isn’t what we remember it to be. The closest Humphrey Bogart got to this famed line was only, “Play it!”
- Sex and the City
Sex and the City aired from 1998 to 2004, with a much-awaited comeback in 2022. Yet, some people still remember it as Sex in the City. One explanation? It could be a lazy pronunciation of the word “and,” which sounds more like Sex’n the City.
- Pikachu’s black tail
Some people remember Pikachu as having a black-tipped tail, but his tail is yellow. His ears are black-tipped, and some venture to say our minds add the black tip to his tail because it makes more sense visually.
What do you think?
- Richard Simmons looks different
If you’re buying a Richard Simmons costume or feeling nostalgic for his high-energy exercise program, you might remember him with sweatbands on his head and wrists. Think again. No sweatbands here.
- Toons or Tunes?
Yet another blast from the past has us questioning whether it was Looney Toons or Looney Tunes. Saturday morning is filled with memories of Looney Toons, but the correct spelling of the show was Looney Tunes.
- The curious case of Curious George
Did Curious George have a tail or no tail? While people remember the mischievous monkey with a tail, the sad truth is he never had one.
- Tinker Bell & the Disney Logo
Remember how Tinker Bell used to write the Disney Logo with her wand and dot the I at the end?
While Tink did fly in and sprinkle pixie dust around the Disney logo on several movies, it was never in this exact way that many people remember.
Reality aside, we still cherish the memory.
- Abe Vigoda died 30 years before dying
We’ve all heard of the numerous celebrities whose death has been erroneously announced on the internet.
But, in 1982, none other than People Magazine announced the death of The Godfather’s Abe Vigoda… when he was actually alive.
- Don’t scream about this bracelet
Another piece of art has people questioning what they saw. The Scream, one of the most reproduced and satirized works of art, is of a person frozen in a scream. In the past, people never saw the gold bracelet on the right hand.
Is it possible none of us noticed it in all these years?
- Hitler and the “master” blue-eyed race
Over the years, many pointed out the irony of a leader who promoted a blond-haired, blue-eyed race when he had brown hair and brown eyes. Enter the Mandela effect because Hitler’s eyes were blue.
- The Cinderella Castle entrance to the Magic Kingdom
While the Cinderella Castle sits at the end of Main Street, many visitors and fans remember it in a much different location—the entrance to the theme park.
- Play me a melody, play me a memory
Song lyrics can be hard to catch, with some musicians abandoning diction for creative expression. This isn’t the case when Billy Joel sings “Piano Man.” We checked, and he clearly sings, “Son, can you play me a memory?” but many people remember it as, “Son, can you play me a melody?”
- It melts in your mouth
The promise of chocolate that won’t be messy is a big part of M&M’s appeal. That and the satisfying crunch that melts away to chocolaty goodness. But if you remember their slogan as “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.” prepare to be underwhelmed. The real slogan? “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
- Meyer vs Mayer?
No, it wasn’t a landmark law case; it’s just a dispute over whether Oscar Mayer was ever Oscar Meyer. Some insist the meat company used to spell its name with an “e,” and this false memory may have been encouraged by misspellings in local papers. That and spelling it with an “e” makes more sense.
- Jiffy doesn’t exist
There’s no such thing as Jiffy Peanut Butter. Confused?
On the other hand, Jif Peanut Butter debuted in 1958 and has been a staple in most pantries.
We were perplexed too, and dug a little deeper: Jiffy is a baking mix brand that’s been around since the 1930s! Think that explains it?
- Objects in mirror are closer than they appear
Were you one of those kids that spent endless hours sitting in the passenger seat of your family car, watching the world recede in the side mirror, memorizing the safety warning? If so, you’ll likely remember it as saying, “Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.”
Check your memory because it really says, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”
- Mona Lisa wasn’t smiling
Some people claim that the Mona Lisa didn’t use to smile. Somehow, that tiny lift of the mouth that we’ve analyzed and postulated over slowly emerged into reality.
We’re not buying that one! But we wonder if her expression has become easier to read because it has been talked about so much.
Honestly, it’s a perplexing microexpression, so it’s easy to see how not everyone thinks she is, or was, really smiling.
- Shaggy’s adam’s apple
Can’t you distinctly remember Shaggy’s Adam’s apple when he’d swallow nervously?
So we were shocked to discover Shaggy doesn’t have Adam’s apple.
- Feel the Febreeeeze
Febreze has been around for a while, making the world fresher.
So maybe that’s why some people remember the brand as Febreeze, a literal take on product branding. If you remember it with two e’s, here’s one consolation—even people who have worked for the company have gotten it wrong too!
- Don’t hyphenate those crispy wafers
Kit Kat is not Kit-Kat. This is true on UK and US wrappers, but it just feels wrong. For those who remember a hyphen, we’ll give you a break.
- Sinbad and Shaq
90s kids will all attest there was absolutely a movie starring Sinbad. For those who say this is simply a mix-up with the film Kazaam starring Shaq, others insist this isn’t the case.
- Cheez-Itz is just Cheez-It’s
This goes against everything we remember about our childhood, but there is no “z” friends.
Cheez-It doesn’t make sense to us, but the crackers still taste great, regardless of the name.
- Oh Captain, my Cap’n
The Captain on the Cap’n Crunch box has us doubting this is true, but it’s never been Captain Crunch! The high-sugar cereal with the great mascot has apparently always been Cap’n Crunch.
- We missed this bulls-eye
The Target logo has one red ring with a red bulls-eye in the center. But some remember two red rings and a white bulls-eye. Can so many people remember such a famous logo incorrectly?
- Where is South America?
Some people are perplexed at how far East South America appears on a world map. In their memory, they’ll say that maps and teachers once taught South America was directly beneath North America.
- Chick? Chic? Chik?
The American chicken fast-food restaurant appears in many people’s memories under a different name than Chick-fil-a. Some insist it was once Chic-fil-a or even Chik-fil-a. We’ll chalk this one up to simple spelling confusion.
- What if I… never told you
Morpheus never said, “What if I told you” in any of the Matrix movies. That is, unless, you count the endless memes immortalizing the line.
- Ben Franklin was never president
Despite the fact that he was never president, many people remember learning that Ben Franklin was. But he is on the $100 bill.
- Stouffer‘s stovetop stuffing
Stouffer’s Stove Top, in the memory of many people, was the delicious and easy-to-make instant stuffing.
This Mandela effect had us digging for answers, and we found that even before Nestlé owned Stouffer’s, there never seemed to be a stove-top stuffing product from this company.
The item your mom or grandma likely had in the pantry was from Kraft.
- C-3PO has a silver leg
The most ardent fans of Star Wars (and Star Wars fans are SUPER fans) don’t remember C-3P0 with a silver leg. The rest of his body is gold, but his right leg below the shin is silver. Is it possible that this distinct feature went unnoticed for years?
- Good morning Clarice
Hannibal Lecter never said the chilling “Hello Clarice” everyone remembers from the movie.
Instead, he said, “Good morning Clarice.”
Bonus List of Mandela Effect Emojis
Brace yourself because none of these emojis ever existed.
- The flipflop (different than the recently released thong sandal)
- The robber
- A slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream
- Left-facing seahorse
- A hiker
Is the Mandela Effect Real?
Some people believe the Mandela effect is real, while others say it’s easily explained with psychology and neuroscience. Here are some of the possible causes of the Mandela effect.
Alternate Realities. This is the most popular explanation for the Mandela effect and relies on the belief that infinite worlds and realities exist. This has made for fantastic movie plots, and some physicists even defend the multiverse. Still, we’ll leave you to decide whether this is the most plausible explanation for the Mandela effect.
The Internet. While disinformation has recently gained more attention, the internet has long been a breeding ground for false information. There are constant announcements of people who have died but are still alive, information that is skewed and reinterpreted, and, let’s not even get into deep fake. If outside forces create the Mandela effect, we point to the internet.
Priming. You may have heard about this on crime shows; priming is when a person phrases a question so that they give the desired answer. Priming is also when the environment you live in impacts your responses. Our surroundings and what we see, hear and imagine often shape perception and even memory.
Image: Brain Web
Confabulation. As humans, we need resolution, and our brain fills in the gaps that either doesn’t make sense or are simply missing. This is a great explanation for Mandela effects like Berenstain Bears, where the spelling makes more sense with an e. It’s possible people fill in the gaps and adjust reality to fit their presuppositions.
False Memories. Unlike confabulation, personal desire often fuels false memories, along with the need for self-relevance and other unconscious motivations. Researchers continue to be perplexed by false memories, and it remains a controversial topic.
If nothing else, the Mandela effect is a great conversation starter! If you’re looking for more, check out our 57 Killer Conversation Starters So You Can Start A Conversation With Anyone, Anytime.