The Mandela effect is a phenomenon where a large group of people remembers an event differently from how it occurred. The Mandela effect was first described in relation to Fiona Broome, who believed that former South African President Nelson Mandela died in prison during the 1980s. While Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and died 23 years later, Broome remembered news coverage of his death in prison and even a speech from his widow. Of course, neither event occurred in reality. But Broome was later to discover that she was not the only one with the same recollection of events.
Causes of the Mandela effect
Opinion is divided on the exact cause of the Mandela effect, but some doctors believe it is a form of confabulation – or “honest lying”.
Here, a person creates a false memory to fill in gaps in their memory. They are not, as some believe, creating memories to lie or deceive.
Some researchers posit that individuals use confabulation to piece together what they believe is the most likely sequence of events. This is because the events described in many Mandela effect cases are quite close to what actually transpired.
A simpler explanation for the effect lies in a person’s inability to remember events accurately.
This may occur when facts become distorted because of the passage of time. Crime eyewitnesses are often unable to recall certain subtle details of a crime, which may lead to gap-filling.
The “memefication” of the internet is also a contributor. Users are free to alter sayings, logos, or images and then harness the ability of the internet to spread misinformation rapidly.
Examples of the Mandela effect
The frowning Mona Lisa
Many art admirers insist that the subject of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting is frowning, even though she is clearly smirking.
Researchers believe that the tendency for artworks of that period to feature frowning subjects has led people to form inaccurate memories.
The mascot of the popular board game Monopoly is often thought to be wearing a monocle.
Upon closer inspection, however, the mascot is not wearing a monocle. It is thought that people confuse the Monopoly mascot with the Planters peanut company mascot, Mr. Peanut.
Life is like a box of chocolates
In the oft-quoted movie Forrest Gump, many assume that Tom Hanks utters the line “Life is like a box of chocolates.”
However, the actual line is “Life was like a box of chocolates.” Emphasis added.
During the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, it is sometimes assumed that the unidentified man who stands in front of a tank was run over and killed.
This is despite video evidence to the contrary showing the man being detained and led away from the scene after a brief confrontation.
The sugary breakfast cereal made by Kellogg’s first hit supermarket shelves in 1963. On the front of the box, four of the colorful circular cereal pieces were substituted for the letter “O” to spell the words “Froot Loops”.
However, despite the brand having been spelled this way for over 60 years, many consumers still believe it to be “Fruit Loops”.
Adding to the Mandela effect is the fact that the cereal is loaded with sugar and does not contain any fruit whatsoever.
The popular Nestlé chocolate bar brand has never been spelled “Kit-Kat” with a dash.
It was named the Kit Kat Chocolate Crisp by original owner Rowntree’s in 1937 and was then shortened to Kit Kat after the Second World War.
When Nestlé acquired Rowntree’s in 1987, the name remain unchanged.
Jif peanut butter
Jif is an American peanut butter brand founded in 1956 that was purchased by multinational company Proctor & Gamble in 2001.
The Mandela effect in this case may stem from confusion caused by unrelated brands with a similar name.
One source of confusion could be Jiffy Pop popcorn, while another is the popular Jiffy brand of all-purpose baking mix.
There is also the potential that consumers are mixed up with the name of Jif’s main competitor, Skippy.
Coca-Cola Zero Sugar
Coca-Cola is one of the most recognizable brands in the world and has released numerous variations of its original cola-based beverage.
Many Coca-Cola fanatics believe that the company’s sugar-free cola drink is called “Coke Zero”. In actuality, every such drink is labeled as “Coca-Cola Zero Sugar” or “Coca-Cola Zero”.
There are two possible causes in this case. The first is that a small “Coke Zero” logo was printed on the back of the bottle where ingredients were listed.
The second is that the name was a sponsor of NASCAR and Daytona races in the United States, but “Coke Zero” was used in this case because it was recognizable to consumers.
Skechers is the third largest footwear company in America, but many add a “t” to the name and call it “Sketchers”.
This confusion likely arises because consumers default to someone who draws when they hear the brand name pronounced.
Oscar Mayer is an American company that manufactures a range of processed meats.
To clear up the mispronunciation among consumers, Oscar Meyer even released an advertisement featuring a child who spelled out each letter of both words to a jingle.
- The Mandela effect refers to a scenario where a large group of people believes an event occurred when it did not.
- The Mandela effect may be caused by several factors. The most likely is the process of confabulation, where an individual harmlessly fabricates information to fill gaps in their memory.
- The Mandela effect was named after a mistaken belief that Nelson Mandela had died in prison. Today, the effect has been described in everything from movie lines to company mascots and world events.
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