On November 5, 2014, the satirical website Clickhole put out an article joking that Beanie Babies were actually filled with spider eggs rather than little plastic beans. Instead of checking the source or laughing it off, people on the Internet started spreading the story around as fact.
Parents and collectors alike became concerned that their Beanie Babies were going to bust a seam and give birth to a whole bunch of bouncing baby spiders. As you might assume, there was absolutely zero truth to this story.
In April of 2015, a story circulated about a couple who bought a “rare” Princess Beanie Baby from a garage sale. This limited-edition toy was made to commemorate Diana, Princess of Wales, and proceeds benefited her memorial fund. The couple researched the value of the bear, and found that it was worth an astounding $93,000. They promptly put it on eBay for that price, and ’90s kids everywhere went rushing to their old toy collections to see if they had any winners, too.
Bad news, collectors: this story is false. Most Beanie Babies are still selling below their original asking price, including Princess.
In 2016, a Photoshopped image came out of a toy supposedly called the Fisher-Price Happy Hour Playset. It included a mini bar, stools, and even a tap and fake beer bottles. Plenty of people assumed the image was real, and Fisher-Price was inundated by angry comments and confused questions.
After a few days of online panic over the viral image, Fisher-Price responded that the playset did not exist and would never exist.
This particular myth has more to do with misleading headlines than an actual hoax. It all began when scientists at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 2005 found a new gene that, when aberrant, could potentially cause cancer. They called it the POK Erythroid Myeloid Ontogenic factor or POKEMON. This lead to headlines everywhere saying “Scientists Find that POKEMON Causes Cancer.” Some people read just the headline, and jumped to the natural conclusion that the articles referred to the children’s games.
Pokemon USA was none too happy about the mix-up, and actually threatened to sue the cancer researchers for their inappropriate naming. The researchers quickly changed the name, but not before the confusion had spread to many concerned parents.
Teddy Ruxpin made a huge splash when he debuted in the ’80s. The reading, singing stuffed animal became a hit. But some parents were not quite so encouraging. Teddy could read more than just happy children’s stories about friendship. If you gave him another tape – say, one with rock music or adult content – Teddy would read that out loud, too.
From there, people concluded that Teddy Ruxpin could be possessed by demons. Individuals in the religious community even began claiming that electronics like Teddy Ruxpin were secretly turning children over to the side of Satan.
There’s no proof of this, although those bears do look a little creepy.
Ever since the invention of video games, concerned parents have worried that they’re a corrupting influence on the mind. All those worries came to a head when a rumor began spreading about a video game cabinet in arcades that could possibly control people’s minds.
The legend of Polybius goes a little differently depending on who you hear it from. In Portland, OR in the early ’80s, an arcade game supposedly started making people feel a little funny. They had headaches, did strange things, and felt like they could not control their actions. Then, mysterious men in black would show up to the arcade and collect data from the machine.
To this day, there is no actual evidence that the game existed, though there are many fan versions. Some have compared it to project MKUltra, but in reality, there is no sign that Polybius or any other video game has been used for mind control.
Disney VHS tapes are rumored to be quite valuable. If you look on eBay, you may even see some of the tapes – particularly those featuring a black diamond that says “Classics” – priced at thousands of dollars. So, is this rumor true?
Not quite. Some tapes may be priced that high, but they’re definitely not selling. In reality, most Disney VHS tapes sell for under $100.
Raggedy Ann is one of the most popular dolls ever created, so how could she possibly cause controversy? Legend has it that the doll originates from tragedy involving a reaction to a vaccine. Creator Johnny Gruelle had a 13-year-old daughter by the name of Marcella Delight, who one day fell ill and died after being vaccinated. From there, the myth says that Gruelle, angered by the loss of his daughter, created a doll that was floppy and limp, like a child right before death. Thus, the doll was his statement on the dangers of vaccination.
While Gruelle’s daughter did tragically die following a vaccine, there is no evidence that the doll is a comment on vaccinations. In fact, he filed the patent for Raggedy Ann before she passed away.
Talking McDonalds toys can be hard to understand at times, which can lead to confusion. One such talking toy was the caveman Minion that came out in 2015. This toy said three different phrases, and one of them sounded suspiciously like “What the f*ck” to some parents.
They panicked, and McDonalds received complaint letters about the toys being profane. The company said that the toys were not swearing, but that didn’t stop parents from avoiding the company until these Minions were no longer in circulation.
Furbies caused serious alarm for some parents. That anxiety stemmed from a myth that Furby could be used as a spy listening device, and was actually originally built for that purpose. After all, it could recognize your voice and respond to it – didn’t that mean it was recording you? Even the NSA reportedly banned the toy from their offices, for fear it could be used to record information and spy for foreign forces.
Furby’s manufacturer, Tiger Electronics, responded to the hysteria: “Although Furby is a clever toy, it does not record or mimic voices. The NSA did not do their homework. Furby is not a spy!”
Cabbage Patch Kids have distinctive features, and according to one legend, that’s because their faces were meant to get children accustomed to what people would look like after thermonuclear war. As the rumor goes, upon realizing that nuclear war was a possibility, scientists did their best to create a likeness of how people would mutate from radiation. Then, they put the likeness on a children’s doll, so that kids would get used to the look and still be willing to breed in the post-apocalyptic world.
In reality, the dolls were lovingly designed by Xavier Roberts, and are actually just supposed to be cute babies.
Around the holidays, Elf on a Shelf pops up to spread cheer with his fixed smile and giant eyes. He’s the symbol of an unusual tradition, and he only gets weirder when you hear the myth about Elf on a Shelf being created by the NSA.
In 2014, the satirical Duffel Blog published an article on the Christmas toy, claiming that Edward Snowden had leaked that Elf on a Shelf was a highly successful NSA espionage project. The doll supposedly was able to move, listen, and keep track of people in the home. Many people did not fact check the story, and spread it as fact.
Kids have always talked to their Barbies, but in 2015, Barbie actually started to talk back. Hello Barbie was able to interact, tell stories, play games, and even tell jokes, all while listening to what the child said. But the toy brought up a very real concern – the doll required an Internet connection, and was capable of transmitting what children said online. Parents assumed that the toys could be used to spy on their children for nefarious purposes. It was enough to launch a huge boycott campaign against the toy.
Mattel eventually came out and said that, no, Barbie was not being used to spy on people, and that it hasn’t been hacked by predators.
In 2016, Monster Jam released a plush truck for “Team Crush” that had several symbols across the top. One of these symbols was heart-shaped, and closely resembled a mark used by pedophiles in trafficking young girls for sex. People assumed that the toy was being sold as a means of aiding pedophiles in their sex trafficking, and all the toys were pulled.
In reality, the symbol was not put there with any such intent. It was an honest mistake, and the company was horrified by the discovery.