Apparently, this falls under the "you can't always believe what you read" department.
A few months ago, I had rediscovered the work of a columnist back east I had always enjoyed. What attracted me to his thoughts was the way he always ends his Sunday columns, providing about a half-dozen informational nuggets gleaned from the bottle caps of Snapple tea. They're called "Real Facts."
To this day, I have never consumed a bottle of Snapple because I simply don't like the taste of tea. But I have always enjoyed those "Real Facts" on the bottle caps, which, for the record, have been around since 2002.
Now I find out those facts may not be real at all. Or, at least, many of them.
"Some are true, some are outright false, and plenty others are incomplete or ambiguous to the point of absurdity," wrote Adrienne LaFrance for the Atlantic magazine a few years ago.
It was LaFrance's story I stumbled across recently that both opened my eyes and disappointed me. I'll never look at a Snapple bottle cap quite the same.
To re-emphasize, not all of those Snapple facts are untrue. For instance:
º Flamingoes really do turn pink from eating shrimp.
º Human brains weigh about three pounds.
Those facts are, in fact, accurate.
The following Snapple "Real Facts" are not:
º The average American doesn't walk 18,000 steps a day. It's actually a little more than 5,000, according to recent medical studies.
º A mosquito doesn't really have "47 teeth." It has a serrated proboscis -- the sharp tube used to suck blood.
Some of the other "Real Facts," LaFrance pointed out, are "murkier" and just about impossible to verify. Such as:
º Grapes are the most popular fruit in the world.
º The most common name for a pet goldfish is "Jaws."
I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to believe anything I see on a Snapple bottle cap again, starting with, "There is a town called ‘Big Ugly' in West Virginia." That's Snapple Daily Fact No. 72.
I could not resist researching that statement, and sure enough, there really is a Big Ugly, W. Va. There are also West Virginia towns carrying names like Booger Hole, Hoo Hoo, Peewee, Cucumber, Left Hand, Burnt House, Lego, Sassafrass, Kitchen and Scrabble.
Another Snapple Real Fact (No. 362 for those keeping track) tells me that "arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth." Sure enough, that one checks out, too.
OK, so maybe I'll give the Snapple bottle cap thing another chance.
But I still don't like the taste of tea -- and that's a real fact.