Mental Floss Editor James Kaminsky Categories Trivia/Entertainment Frequency Bi-monthly Publisher Angus Macaulay First issue May 2001 Company Mental Floss, LLC (Dennis Publishing) Country United States Based in Birmingham, Alabama Language English Website mentalfloss.com ISSN 1543-4702
Mental Floss (stylized mental_floss) is a bi-monthly American magazine, launched in 2001 in Birmingham, Alabama, that presents facts and trivia in a humorous way. MentalFloss.com is also host to a popular blog, which contains additional trivia, features, and interesting news articles.
The company now has additional offices in Brooklyn, New York and Chesterland, Ohio, and the magazine has a circulation of more than 100,000 subscribers in over 17 countries. The publication also has been included in Inc. magazine's list of the 5,000 fastest growing private companies.
The magazine frequently publishes books and sells T-shirts with humorous sayings, such as "There's no right way to eat a Rhesus". In addition, there is a licensed trivia board game similar to Trivial Pursuit. The magazine also produces the "In a Box" series, which is a tin containing a book, flash cards, exam, and diploma for a law school, med school, or MBA student.
Dennis Publishing bought the magazine in 2011.
The magazine was co-founded by William E. Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur while they were students at Duke University. According to the Mental Floss website, the idea came from conversations at the Duke cafeteria about the need for an educational magazine that was funny and entertaining. According to Hattikudur, they wanted to emulate the lectures from some of their favorite professors while maintaining their enthusiasm on a regular basis.
Later Will Pearson met with the president of Duke University, who loved the idea, but disliked the name. The first published issue was known as the "Campus Edition" published in spring of 2000, distributing 3,000 issues.
The founders spent much of their first year looking for investors and staff members while raising funds to publish the first issue, which was released in May 2001. Over the following summer, 8,000 copies were distributed, and 60% sold out on newsstands.
- A.J. Jacobs contributed articles based on what he has learned after reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, as described in his book The Know-It-All.
- Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy fame, writes a feature each issue called Six Degrees of Ken Jennings, in which he plays the game Six degrees of separation with two people or things that are unrelated except by the way they sound, like Benedict XVI and Benedict Arnold or Isaac Newton and Apple Computer.
Each issue of Mental Floss magazine is divided up into the following sections:
- Features: Some examples of featured articles include an expose on Shel Silverstein's darker side and a collection of the 25 Most Important Questions in the Universe.
- right_brain: Contains articles about "right brain" topics, like art and literature. Some examples of right_brain articles have included The Thinker, James Joyce, and Ming vases.
- left_brain: Contains articles about "left brain" topics, like science and logic. Some examples of left_brain articles have included string theory, the Human Genome Project, and black holes.
- scatter_brained: Contains 10 pages of trivia, facts, and anecdotes from all different categories of knowledge.
- spinning the_globe Contains articles about religion, history, and world culture.
- The Quiz Each issue contains a brief quiz in the back of the magazine.
- Every year, one issue of Mental Floss is known as the "Ten Issue". It will usually feature lists of ten things focusing on one subject such as: "Ten Most Forgettable Presidents", or "Ten Famous Monkeys in Science". Mental Floss has currently put out ten "ten issues" to date.
Recurring blog categories
- The Quick 10: Brief lists of ten people, locations, events, or products that fit a specific category
- Brain Game: Original logic and math puzzles
- Morning Cup of Links: Interesting links to news stories, videos, and memes from across the internet
- 5 Questions: Daily sets of questions which ask trivia from several different subjects
- Lunchtime Quiz: Daily quizzes which ask trivia questions from one specific subject
- Feel Art Again: Lists of trivia related to an artist or famous work of art
- Dietribes: Lists of trivia about food and nutrition
- The Amazing Fact Generator: A page which generates random facts and trivia
Mental Floss provides merchandise through their online store as well as a retail store located in Chesterland, Ohio.
The Mental Floss online store boasts over 70 t-shirt designs, many of which involve clever puns. Some of their best selling t-shirts include:
- "Pluto 1930-2006, Revolve in Peace"
- "There's No Right Way to Eat a Rhesus"
- "Simple as 3.141592...
- "When Life Gives You Scurvy, Make Lemonade"
- "Pavlov: The Name That Rings a Bell"
- Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp Through Civilization's Best Bits
- Genius Instruction Manual
- What's the Difference?
- Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets
- Condensed Knowledge
- Forbidden Knowledge
- Instant Knowledge
- In the Beginning
- Be Amazing
In A Box Series
- Law School In A Box
- Med School In A Box
- MBA in a Box
- Mental Floss board game
- Mental Floss water bottle
- Split Decision card game
Mental Floss has been covered by magazines and newspapers such as Reader's Digest, Los Angeles Times, CNN.com, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, Dallas Morning News, The Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Other media coverage includes:
- Listed as one of the Chicago Tribune's 50 favorite magazines in June 2007
- Listed as one of PC World's 100 favorite blogs in June 2007
- Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur among Inc. magazine's 30 "coolest young entrepreneurs
- ^ Press Release describing magazine launch
- ^ Cleveland.com "Ohio couple share in the fun as Mental Floss magazine executives"
- ^ The News Herald "Folks behind mental_floss open retail store in Chester Township"
- ^ mental_floss About page
- ^ Cleveland.com "Ohio couple share in the fun as Mental Floss magazine executives"
- ^ See Mental Floss Volume 5, issue 6, page 8.
- ^ What is mental_floss?
- ^ See Mental Floss volume 4, issue 3.
- ^ mental_floss online store
- ^ MentalFloss.com Press Room
- ^ Chicago Tribune "Our 50 Favorite Magazines"
- ^ PC World "100 Blogs We Love"
- ^ Inc. Magazine "30 Under 30: America's Coolest Young Entrepreneurs"
- Official website
- Official blog
- Official Twitter feed
- Feeling Smart Duke Magazine, Volume 87, No.4, May-June 2001
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