Holy nostalgia! I was scrolling the web and found an interesting thread in a Gen X forum. A poster asked for their generation’s best urban legends. Here are the top-voted stories we passed around before the internet existed to tell us we were wrong! Please remember these are urban legends and NOT true stories.
1. The Man in Your Backseat Legend
There are a couple of iterations of this classic urban legend. One involves a semi-truck driving a woman off the road. Once she gets out, he tells her: “There a man crouching in the back of your car. I’ve radioed the police.” The cops show up and arrest the convicted murderer.
Another involves a woman gassing up at a station when the attendant becomes belligerent and demands she exit her vehicle, alleging her cash is counterfeit. She hops out, and the attendant informs: “I called the police. A man is hiding in the back of your car.” Of course, the man, again, is a convicted murderer.
2. The Richard Gere Gerbil Story
Are you even Gen X if you didn’t grow up hearing the Richard Gere gerbil story? It was so prevalent it made an appearance in the film Scream. Did you know that Sylvester Stallone is the one who started the rumor?
3. The Mikey Pop Rocks Urban Legend
Do you remember hearing that our beloved Mikey from the Life cereal commercials ate Pop Rocks while drinking soda, causing his stomach to explode and die? It’s an infamous Gen X urban legend.
4. The Walt Disney Frozen Head Story
Remember the story that circulated about Walt Disney being cryogenically frozen? Moreover, that it was just his head that had been preserved while they waited on technology to advance to a place they could bring him back to life?
Even the adults believed this one. Since then, there has been a rumor suggesting they made the movie Frozen, so when people Google Disney Frozen, the movie will show up before the tale of his cryogenically frozen head.
5. The Headlight Gang Urban Legend
This story was widespread and silly when you think about it. As the legend goes, gangbangers would drive at night with headlights off, waiting for unsuspecting victims to flash their headlights at them. If you flashed them, they would shoot.
6. The Procter & Gamble Satanic Panic
Do you remember hearing that Procter & Gamble’s CEO was a Satanist? The legend states that he appeared on an episode of Phil Donahue and announced a large portion of the product’s proceeds was donated to the church of Satan.
However, it’s not true. The CEO never even appeared on the show. Still, one Gen Xer admits, “I checked every shampoo and soap bottle to be sure my parents weren’t buying the devil’s soap.”
7. A Trio of Marilyn Manson Tales
Rocker Marilyn Manson has a few rumors circulating about him in the 90s, which may be more of a Millennial urban legend. But I am Gen X and heard them, so I’ve included them on the list. The first tale is that Marilyn Manson is Paul from The Wonder Years.
Another was that Marilyn Manson was the actor who played the oldest son from Mr. Belvedere. The third story involves him removing a rib so that he can pleasure himself. Man, we were stupid.
8. The Bubble Yum Spider Eggs Urban Legend
Memory unlocked; I totally forgot about the urban legend about Bubble Yum bubble gum having spider eggs in it. This rumor got so much traction the company took out a full-page ad in the New York Times, denying the allegations.
9. The Phil Collins Story
The meaning of “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins became a pervasive urban myth. One story alleges he watched the man who assaulted his wife drown. A second spin was that he watched a man drown another man and then sang the song to him at his concert.
Finally, a third states that he witnessed a drowning as a kid and did nothing to help. Later, he hired a private investigator to search for the man. After locating him, he sent a free ticket to him and premiered the song that night with the spotlight on the man the entire time. Of course, NONE of these are true.
10. The Bloody Hook Story
Do you remember the infamous bloody hook story? The legend goes that a young couple is parked and making out when a radio announcement informs them that a psychopath with a hook for a hand has escaped the asylum.
The girl freaks out and asks to be taken home. The guy complies. Once they arrive at her home, he gets out to open her door, and a bloody hook hangs from the handle.
11. The Waking Up in a Tub of Ice Urban Legend
Another classic story is about a guy who gets drugged and wakes up in a bathtub full of ice with a note telling him that his kidney is gone. This one circulated enough that there is even a reference to it in Scrubs.
12. The Wendy’s Worms Tale
Another oldie but goodie is the urban legend that Wendy’s has square hamburgers to hide the fact there are worms in the meat. Other Gen Xers confess to hearing that McDonald’s added worms to their burgers to plump them up. I’m grateful I never heard either of these ones growing up.
Please remember that these are all urban legends, and they have zero truth to them!
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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.