Are You Sure You Remember?


Grace Daniel

What do you remember, Kit-Kat or KitKat? (Photo courtesy of Grace Daniel)

Very rarely is there an occurrence that completely baffles the world. In recent years, the Mandela Effect has become one of the most popular phenomena discussed in the world. The Mandela Effect refers to when many people remember something that is not accurate with what actually happened. Most examples are of things that we would never think to question, such as the logos, the spelling, and even the quotes from our favorite brands, television shows, and movies. How can hundreds of thousands of people remember specific events the same exact way without ever coming into contact with one another?

“The Mandela Effect is mind-blowing. It’s crazy how thousands of people remember specific things wrong,” said senior Angel Sarmiento.

The first example of the Mandela Effect discusses the death of Nelson Mandela, from which the name is derived from. Thousands of people remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in South Africa in the late 1980s. They remember seeing his televised funeral a few days after his apparent death, along with his wife giving a heartfelt speech. However, this worldwide memory is completely false; he died in 2013. How is it possible that so many people, and even published books, remember the event occurring a different way?

“I don’t understand how so many people can remember such a huge event wrong! It’s so interesting to hear other people talk about something that you both remember the same way, even though you’ve both never talked about it before,” said junior Anna Jernigan.

Many of the most popular logos and icons may not be how you remember them. For example, you probably remember that the monopoly man wears a large monocle, Curious George swings around with his tail, and Pikachu has a tail tipped with a black marking, right? Wrong. The monopoly man wears no eye wear, Curious George walks tailless, and Pikachu has a solid, bright yellow tail. Despite popular belief and memory, some of our culture’s most recognizable figures look extremely different in our heads.

“I think some of them can be explained because of the way they look. Pikachu’s tail, for example, has shadows cast on it in certain ways that could make people confused. Also, his ears are tipped with black, which could lead to more confusion, especially if people aren’t too familiar with the show and its characters,” said junior Ryan Owens.

Grace Daniel
What do you remember, Cup O’ Noodles or Cup Noodles? (Photo courtesy of Grace Daniel)

Perhaps some of the most surprising Mandela Effect examples are found in the spelling of certain words. For instance, The Berenstein Bears, Sex in the City, Cup O’ Noodles, Double Stuff Oreos, and Fruit Loops are well-known television shows and brands. However, The Berenstain Bears, Sex and the City, Double Stuf Oreos, and Froot Loops are the actual names of the brands we all seem to remember so well.

“I distinctly remember talking to my mom about the spelling of Froot Loops when I was younger. I couldn’t believe the spelling wasn’t ‘fruit’ when I found that out. I started learning about more Mandela Effect examples and I found them all so interesting,” said junior Andrew Wiles.

In our culture, songs and movies are often the most well-known and best remembered. But, do we really remember them? Some of the most famous quotes of all time are, “Luke, I am your father,” from Star Wars, “Mirror, mirror on the wall,” from Snow White, “Life is like a box of chocolates,” from Forrest Gump, and finally, “We are the champions of the world,” from the song We are the Champions by Queen. Although these are some of the most widely-known quotes of movies and songs of all time, they are all incorrect. They actually say, “No, I am your father,” “Magic mirror on the wall,” “Life was like a box of chocolates,” and “We are the champions.”

“It doesn’t make sense how something so popular like Star Wars has thousands of devoted fans who all remember something wrong. I feel like it would have been recognized and talked about a lot earlier than just in the past few years,” said Sarmiento.

Scientifically, human memory is extremely unreliable. Despite having witnessed certain events, many people’s memories changed based on how they have been influenced. More recent experiences often corrupt memories, and therefore invalidate them. However, it’s unlikely that thousands of individuals have all had their memories altered the same way.

“People’s memories change so much that it’s hard to rely on them. You can change someone’s mind so easily, so I don’t think that there is any evidence of an alternate universe or time travel,” said junior John Murphy.

There are quite a few theories to attempt to explain the unexplainable phenomena. First, many people believe that the failure to recall certain events correctly is due to another dimension. This theory states that our dimension crossed paths with another parallel universe, and certain events from each, such as the death of Nelson Mandela, swapped places and changed dimensions. This would explain the vast number of people who are subjected to this effect. However, there is no scientific basis to study this theory.

“There are so many people that remember certain things. I think that the alternate dimension theory makes sense because it would account for all the hundreds of people who remember the events,” said Jernigan.

Another theory states that the butterfly effect due to time travel may have caused the Mandela Effect. The butterfly effect is a theory used to describe the effects that time travel would have on the present. The theory believes that if a time traveler changed anything in the past, even something small such as a butterfly, it would change something in the future. Some individuals believe that time travelers have traveled back in time and changed something small, which changed reality, though our memories remained the same.

“Even if time travel was possible, I don’t think it’s a logical explanation. It would create a paradox, whereby the time the change happened, it would have happened in what we consider the past, so we would have no memory of the incorrect memories we have. It doesn’t explain the Mandela Effect,” said Owens.

While there are many extreme theories, there are also some that are more practical in trying to debunk the phenomena. For instance, many people think it’s just a series of common misconceptions. For instance, many of the commonly misunderstood spellings for certain brands such as Double Stuf Oreos, are understandable because of the way we pronounce the words. Logically, Double Stuf Oreos are pronounced as Double Stuff Oreos, so it’s not hard to imagine why so many people don’t know about its unique spelling.

“I think it’s absolutely a psychological trick on our minds. The power of suggestion is behind the entire theory. Our memories are changed so easily, and I think that when celebrities or other influential people say something that is actually incorrect, everyone assumes they are right, which changes our memories,” said Wiles.

Also, many quotes that are misremembered are somehow referenced in something else. For instance, the evil queen’s famous line from the Disney classic Snow White, “Magic mirror on the wall,” actually does say “Mirror mirror on the wall,” in the original fairy tale, which is probably why it seems more natural than the actual wording. Also, the main character in the Disney movie Chicken Little sings Queen’s song We are the Champions, adding “of the world” to the end of the well-known song. This popular movie may explain the common misconception about the song’s lyrics.

“The logical explanation is that we remember things based on what sounds or looks right. When companies spell things differently, it confuses people,” said Owens.

While there are many logical explanations behind many examples of the Mandela Effect, it is still hard to believe that a few miscommunications caused thousands of unrelated individuals to have the exact same altered memory. While everyone may not be connected physically, we live in a socially connected world where it is possible for many people to have similar experiences without ever being aware of one another’s existence. It’s amazing that there are still so many mysteries in a world that’s filled with so many brilliant minds.