40 Random Obscure Facts That Will Make Everyone Think You’re a Genius

Kill it at a cocktail party by dropping some serious knowledge.

40 Random Obscure Facts That Will Make Everyone Think You’re a Genius

Kill it at a cocktail party by dropping some serious knowledge.

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Who among us wouldn’t want to be a dazzling conversationalist? Whether you’re chatting with your colleagues, your friends, your date, or anyone you’re randomly meeting at a cocktail party, there are few feelings quite as satisfying as artfully saying something truly surprising and interesting, and showing others a great time.

That’s why we’ve collected here the 40 obscure facts you can drop on just about anyone that will have them all wondering if you’re a genius. (Or at least a walking encyclopedia.) So read on, take notes, and then enjoy your newfound status as the king or queen of the cocktail party. And for more fun facts, check out 40 Facts So Funny They’re Hard to Believe.

cats can be allergic to humans Random Obscure Facts

1
Some Cats Are Actually Allergic to Humans

Though it’s uncommon—since humans bathe more than your typical animal, and don’t shed as much hair or skin—some animals can still be allergic to humans. (However, it’s most often because of the perfume or cologne we wear or the soap we use.) And for more great info about pets, check out the 15 Signs Your dog Is Depressed. 

energy before noon Random Obscure Facts

2
Too Much Water Can Kill You

Drinking too much water can be lethal. When guzzling a ton of liquid, you can suffer from something called “water intoxication,” which either occurs after an obscene amount of water is guzzled or too many fluids were consumed during hardcore, endurance exercise. If this sounds preposterous, know that the 2002 Boston Marathon competitor Cynthia Lucero died due to overhydration. (Yikes.) And for more on the water we drink, don’t miss the 25 U.S. Cities with the Best Drinking Water. 

lava representing hot day

3
The Hottest Temperature Ever Recorded on Earth Was 2 Billion Degrees Kelvin

To give you a sense of how hot that is: The interior of our sun is 15 million degrees Kelvin. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories produced the record-breaking temperature in their lab using a superheated gas—equal to about 3.6 billion degrees Fahrenheit, which is definitely warmer than anything you could create on your stove. And for more knowledge you can drop on your friends, check out the 30 Crazy Useful Facts You’ve Never Heard Before. 

green eggs and ham Random Obscure Facts

4
Green Eggs and Ham Started as a Bet

The Dr. Seuss classic grew out of a bet with his editor that he could not create a book using fewer than 50 different words. The editor, Bennett Cerf, founder of Random House, put—you guessed it—$50 on the line, and lost. And for more great books trivia, check out the 20 Funniest Jokes From Kids’ Books.

painter artist

5
Competitive Art Used to Be in the Olympics

Between 1912 and 1948, the Olympic Games awarded medals in sculpture, music, painting, and architecture. After the Olympics were skipped during the war years, it returned in 1948, but after a debate, the competitions were scrapped.

“John Copley of Britain won one of the final medals awarded, a silver in 1948 for his engraving, Polo Players,” according to Smithsonianmag.com. “He was 73 years old at the time, and would be the oldest medalist in Olympic history if his victory still counted.” And if you’re interested in buying some next-level, artisan-quality goods, read up on Why Italian Craftsmanship Is the Best on the Planet.

doctor holding a brain

6
The Majority of Your Brain Is Fat

You can literally call someone a fathead—about 60 percent of the human brain is made of fat. And for more ridiculous knowledge about human physiology, check out these 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Body.

Chefs hat Random Obscure Facts

7
A Chef’s Hat Has Exactly 100 Pleats

A chef’s tall toque traditionally is made with 100 pleats, meant to represent the “hundred ways to cook an egg.” Oh, and speaking of hats: Here’s our great selection of 10 Summer Hat Options That Are Way Classier Than a Ball-cap. 

tom kerss captures supermoon 2018

8
The Moon Is (Slowly) Slowing the Earth’s Rotation

Every one hundred years, the Moon adds approximately 1.7 milliseconds to a day. While this may be minuscule, it does add up: Over the past 350 million years, the Earth’s rotation has slowed by about an hour. And for more on our universe, read up on the 30 Craziest Predictions about the Future Experts Say Are Going to Happen. 

Orange Anti-Aging Random Obscure Facts

9
Oranges Aren’t Naturally Occurring Fruitsl

Oranges may be a classic fruit, but they are not actually a naturally occurring one. Fact: the sweet fruits we love are actually a hybrid of tangerines and pomelos, also known as “Chinese grapefruit,” which is a pale green or yellow color.

Originally cultivated in southeast Asia, they were originally green before the skin turned orange in warmer climates. However, regardless of where it came from, it will always be one of the 50 Foods That Will Make You Look Younger!

Random Obscure Facts heels worn by men

10
High Heels Were Originally Worn by Men

In the 10th century, men in Europe adopted the now-classic fashion choice of heels to make it easier to ride their horses. Adding heels to their boots made it easier to stay in their stirrups.

As Slate explained, “The Persian cavalry wore inch-high heels, and the trend spread to Europe. Since they showed that the wearer owned and maintained horses, high heels became associated with the upper class.”

habits after 40 Random Obscure Facts

11
You Are Drinking Million-Year-Old Water

Because the cycle of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation is closed, the same water that existed on the earth millions of years ago is still on Earth today. It just keeps recycling itself over and over—so you might want to put that liquid through the Brita filter an extra time or two! And for more great healthy-living knowledge, here are the 40 Health Myths You Hear Every Day. 

queen elizabeth and david attenborough Random Obscure Facts

12
Queen Elizabeth Is a Trained Mechanic

The Queen is actually quite handy. When she was 16, she joined the British employment agency the Labour Exchange, where she learned the basics of truck repair. You know: how to change a tire, fix engines, and drive ambulances. Nowadays, she has others who can do such things for her, but it’s nice to know if one of her cars broke down, the Queen might be able to get it back up and running. And for more coverage of our favorite monarch, Here’s Queen Elizabeth Looking Utterly Dazzled by Justin Trudeau. 

queen elizabeth car

13
Also… The Queen Has an Insane Car Collection

Perhaps that early understanding of automobiles inspired the Queen’s lifelong love of cars. Her collection of Rolls-Royces, Daimlers, Bentleys, and other brands is estimated to be worth £10 million. And if you’re a car buff, too, check out these 10 New Cars That Are Instant Collectibles. 

new york city subway queens Random Obscure Facts

14
New York Was Briefly Naned “New Orange”

New Amsterdam was founded by the Dutch in 1653 and taken renamed New York by the English in 1664. However, the Dutch briefly reclaimed it in 1673 and dubbed it New Orange, which was its name for about a year until it was returned to the British under the Treaty of Westminster.

Tinder, 40s, what to give up in your 40s

15
There Was a Successful Tinder Match in Antarctica in 2014

The dating app is popular across six continents, but it didn’t have a connection on the least-inhabited one until 2014, when a pair of research scientists—a man working at Antarctica’s McMurdo Station and a woman camping a 45-minute helicopter ride away—found they matched. We hope they read the 30 Ways to Have a Happy Long-Distance Relationship.

Moonshine bottles

16
Moonshiners Used “Cow Shoes” to Disguise Their Footprints During Prohibition

To keep their whiskey stills from being spotted, moonshiners during prohibition would often wear “cow shoes”—shoes with special blocks attached to the bottoms—which would make their footprints look like a cow’s.

Amelia Earhart Random Obscure Facts

17
Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt Once Went on a Joyride

In 1933, the two high-profile women ditched a fancy dinner in Washington, D.C., and hopped into an Easter Air Transport Curtiss Condor and flew to Baltimore. For more on Amelia Earhart, check out America’s 30 Most Fascinating Unsolved Mysteries. 

tootsie owl

18
It Takes Exactly 364 Licks to Get to the Center of a Tootsie Pop

A group of engineering students at Purdue University designed a machine to answer the classic question, “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?,” and found that the answer was 364.

For what it’s worth: There’s still debate over this question. A doctorate student at the University of Michigan determined the answer to be 411, while a group of students at Swarthmore Junior High School determined it to be just 144. Go figure.

tree rings Random Obscure Facts

19
Tree Rings Get Wider During Wet Years

You probably already knew that tree rings can tell you how old a tree is. But they can also show you the conditions of a given year, with thinner rings during drought years and thick ones when there was significant rainfall.

Dallol, Ethiopia Random Obscure Facts

20
The Hottest Inhabited Place in the World is in Ethiopia

Dallol, Ethiopia, reaches an average annual temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The hottest month had an average of 116.1 degrees Fahrenheit.

Random Obscure Facts

21
Hot Water Freezes Faster Than Cold Water

Crazy, right? A number of explanations have been suggested for “the Mpemba effect,” including one that posits that warm containers conduct heat more efficiently, and another that warm water evaporates faster.

Bottlenose dolphin Random Obscure Facts

22
Dolphins Have Names for Each Other

You’ve probably heard that dolphins are pretty clever, but this is pretty impressive: The animals actually have names for one another, using a unique whistle to distinguish between different members within their pod.

the Giving Tree

23
Shel Silverstein Wrote the Song “A Boy Named Sue”

That famed Johnny Cash song was actually penned by the famed children’s book poet behind works such as Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Giving Tree, and A Light in the Attic. He also wrote songs performed by Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, and more. And for more awesome knowledge about music, check out the 30 Funniest Rap Lyrics.

man in Bowler hat Random Obscure Facts

24
The Bowler Hat Was Invented as a Safety Measure

The familiar bowler hat may look fashionable, but it began as a purely practical item—a riding helmet meant to protect riders from branches and other obstacles. It was designed by London hatmakers Thomas and William Bowler—hence, the name.

otters in raft Random Obscure Facts

25
Sea Otters Hold Hands While They Sleep

This ridiculously cute behavior is an effort to avoid floating away from their partner during sleep. Sometimes they hold hands in groups, producing a “raft.”

Stop Sign Illegal Random Obscure Facts

26
Stop Signs Used to Be Yellow

The first stop sign appeared in Detroit in 1915 and for the first years of its use across the country, it was made in a wide range of colors, before settling on a consistent one in the 1920s: yellow. The idea was that this color would have the greatest amount of visibility for both day and night (red looked dark at night). That changed in 1954, with the invention of fade-resistant red coatings, which made it easier to spot.

platform shoes

27
Platform Shoes Once Symbolized Status

More footwear trivia: raised platform shoes (also known as “buskins”) were worn by tragic actors in Ancient Greece to symbolize their superiority over comic actors, who wore plain socks.

Dandelion Random Obscure Facts

28
Dandelion has a Dirty Meaning

Be careful about drinking any dandelion wine—the French word for dandelion, pissenlit, means “wet the bed.” This name comes from the fact that dandelion leaves have diuretic properties.

Andy Warhol, inspiring quotes

29
Andy Warhol Inspired Louboutins’ Red Soles

Louboutins shoes are known as much for their high price as their red soles, but many don’t know that the color was inspired by the artist Andy Warhol, whose Flowers drawing caught Christian Louboutin’s eye and gave him the idea (with the aid of an assistant’s red nail polish) to add the color to the bottom of the kicks.

wittiest put down Winston Churchill Random Obscure Facts

30
Winston Churchill’s Mother Was from Brooklyn

Though one of the UK’s most famous leaders, wartime prime minister and career politician Winston Churchill has deep U.S. roots. His mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, was born Jennie Jerome in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. As daughter of financier and sportsman Leonard Jerome, she was born into significant wealth.

orange Random Obscure Facts

31
Oranges Were First Planted in U.S. in 1513

Florida and oranges go way back—in what is now Florida, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon planted the first orange tree in 1513. Five centuries later, the product continues to thrive in the Sunshine State.

omg graphic

32
”OMG” Usage Can Be Traced to 1917

One of the earliest uses—perhaps the earliest use—of the acronym “O.M.G” appears in a letter to Winston Churchill. In 1917, retired Admiral of the British Navy John Arbuthnot Fisher wrote to Churchill (then a British Member of Parliament) about rumors he had heard about new titles that would soon be bestowed. “I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis,” he wrote. “O.M.G. (Oh! My God!)—Shower it on the Admirality!!” But definitely see here for 40 Things No One Over 40 Should Ever Say.

wizard of oz stamp

33
Toto the Dog Was Once a Cow

In the 1910 silent film version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy did not have a dog but a faithful cow named Imogene. It’s not clear why they opted for the change—Toto was in the 1902 stage rendition and L. Frank Baum’s book.

Reno Random Obscure Facts

34
Reno Is Farther West Than Los Angeles

San Diego, too—check the map.

Random Obscure Facts

35
Horses Sleep in 15-Minute Bursts

Horses don’t need as much sleep as you might expect for an animal so large. Altogether, they sleep about three or four hours a day, and that is done in 10- and 15-minute bursts, often locking their joints and standing while they do.

Horse Random Obscure Facts

36
Horses Also Have the Largest Eyes of Any Mammal

No wonder they do so well in battle. Horses’ eyes are larger than any other mammal’s (at about 2 inches in diameter) are able to move independently and—due to their placement on the sides of their heads—can get a near-360-degree view of their surroundings (outside of a pair of blind spots directly in front and behind them).

essential dating tips for men over 40

“37”
Speed Dating Was Invented by a Rabbi

While we might think of it as an innovative way to meet people, it was a very traditional person who invented speed dating. Rabbi Yaacov Deyo, based in Beverly Hills, CA, created the concept in 1998, bringing together a handful of single men and women for some matchmaking in a Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Romance and efficiency proved to be a perfect match. And for more facts that are hard to believe, check out these 20 Present-Day Facts No One Could Have Predicted Five Years Ago.

African Grey Parrot Random Obscure Facts

38
Parrots Have the Power of Reason

In addition to humans and chimps, the African Grey Parrot has been found to be able to reason—approximately at the level of a three-year-old kid. In an experiment, the parrot was presented with a pair of closed canisters, with food inside one of them, which they were shown. After this, when given a chance to choose between canisters, they consistently selected the one with food. Additionally, more complex studies have found the parrots to be able to piece together similar puzzles.

50 funniest facts

39
The blob of toothpaste that sits on your toothbrush has a name.

It’s called a “nurdle.” And for more funny words, know the 100 Slang Terms from the 20th Century No One Uses Anymore. 

weeds in a yard

40
Weeds Can Be Healthy

Though we usually just pull them up and throw toss them into the trash, some weeds have nutritious properties. For example, dandelions are loaded with vitamins A, C and K—not to mention calcium, iron, manganese, and potassium. So consider repurposing those weeds and making them into a salad.

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