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Apple, Walmart, and McDonald's. Three of the biggest companies in the world, with some of the most notorious stories and myths. It turns out, we don't know as much as we think we do. Let's break down some common misconceptions about famous companies.

Misconceptions: A curious show where we debunk common myths, mistakes, and misconceptions about the world.


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Hi I'm Elliott, this is Mental Floss Video, today I'm going to talk about some misconceptions about famous companies, which is why I put on this tie. Because I'm trying to impress the man upstairs. It's John.

Misconception #1: When Walmart opens, it's bad for small businesses in that area. It is for some businesses, but it actually gives others a boost. A study about this was published in a 2009 issue in the journal Economic Geography. The researchers looked at the impact of Walmart stores in Florida between the years of 1980 and 2004, and the study found that it's not that common for stores to close when one opens nearby. Ones that did close were typically stores selling similar items to Walmart, but they were quickly replaced by other local businesses like restaurants. And places near Walmart that don't sell items similar to Walmart actually do better when one opens near them because it drives shopper traffic that way.

Speaking of which, misconception #2: Wal-Mart has much lower prices than other stores.  Actually, in 2012, Bloomburg Industry set out to determine whether Wal-Mart has the lowest prices as it often promises.  Their study found that a person who chooses Target over Wal-Mart will save 46 cents for every hundred dollars they spend at the store.  Other studies show that spending at a local grocery store makes for more savings, although those findings aren't always consistent. 

Misconception #3: Amazon has billions of dollars of profits every year.  Amazon makes a lot of money, but almost every dollar gets reinvested in the company.  CEO Jeff Bezos is an advocate for this reinvesting because Amazon tries to stay ahead of the competition when it comes to technology and customer service and actually, in 2012, Amazon lost 39 million dollars due to this emphasis on innovation.

Misconception #4: The Apple logo is a reference to the Bible.  Or Isaac Newton.  Or Alan Turing.  There are a lot of stories out there about the Apple logo.  Some say the one bite out of the apple represents the one bite Eve takes out of the fruit in the Adam & Eve story.  Others claim that it's a reference to the story of an apple hitting Isaac Newton on the head, causing him to discover gravity, and some believe that it is representative of the cyanide-laced apple that killed Alan Turing, believed to be a suicide, but the logo isn't about any of those.  According to its designer Rob (?~2:00), it's just supposed to be an apple, y'all, and the bite is there so it isn't confused with another fruit like a cherry.  'Cause it's not a cherry.  It's an apple.

Speaking of logos, Misconception #5: Procter & Gamble has a satanic logo.  We probably shouldn't even be talking about this because in 2007, P&G won $19.25 dollars in a civil lawsuit against a competitor company that spread this rumor.  Basically, for 140 years, the logo was a man's face and a crescent moon shape and thirteen stars, but to make it look like a moon, the man had two horn-like appendages.  In the 1930s redesign gave his an inverted 666.   In 1991, they changed the logo, plus they won that lawsuit I mentioned, so it's safe to say that P&G wasn't encouraging satanism for over century.  That should be their new motto.

Misconception #6: A woman once received millions of dollars by suing McDonald's for not warning her that coffee was hot.  The shortened version of this story that we hear today is an example of really good PR on McDonald's' part.  Here's what really happened.  In 1992, a 79 year old woman named Stella (?~2:55) was in the passenger seat when she bought a coffee at a McDonald's drive-thru.  In the parked car, she held the cup between her legs to add cream and sugar, but the coffee spilled and she had to be hospitalized for third degree burns which covered 6% of her body in addition to other burns.  She asked McDonald's for about $20,000 to cover the medical bills.  Eventually, it went to court.  The jury awarded her $160,000 in compensatory damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages, but that $2.7 million was reduced to $480,000 by the judge, so she did not receive millions of dollars and I think that it's safe to say that this lawsuit is nowhere near as frivolous as it usually gets reported.

Speaking of fast food, Misconception #7: Taco Bell beef is only 35% meat.  Well, it's 100% delicious.  This rumor comes from a 2011 lawsuit in which the plaintiff claimed that lab tests prove this true, and the suit was dropped quickly.  The beef that Taco Bell serves is 88% beef, which is similar to other fast food restaurants.  The other 12% is a mixture of ingredients like yeast, soy lecithin, and sugar.

Misconception #8: Heinz 57 is named after its 57 varieties of Ketchup.  Heinz' slogan used to be 57 Varieties, so that would make sense, but it turns out that the company's founder, Henry Heinz, he just made it up.  It's especially weird since at the time, the slogan came to be around 1896, the company made over 60 products.  According to Heinz, his lucky number was five and his wife's was seven so they went with 57 varieties.  They just didn't give a crap back then.

Misconception #9: The owners of Home Depot and Lowe's used to be married.  This is a fun myth, though it is sadly not true.  Basically, some claim that the founder of Home Depot got a divorce and his wife was so angry that she opened up a Lowe's next to his store.  The truth is, Lowe's was founded way  before Home Depot.  In 1946, the first one opened in North Carolina and it was run by two brothers in law, James Lowe and Carl (?~4:33).  In 1979, the first Home Depot opened in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was created by two men named Bernard Marcus and Arthur Blank, and as far as we know, none of these men were ever in romantic relationships with each other.  You never know, though.  No, we know, we know.

Misconception #10: Kodak was named for the sound a camera shutter makes.  Nope.  The name was created by the founder George Eastman and his mother and  it was basically random trial and error.  They picked it purely because they liked the way it sounded.  According to Eastman, "The letter 'K' had been a favorite with me.  It seemed like a strong incisive sort of letter.  Therefore, the word I wanted had to start with 'K'.  Then it became a question of trying out a great number of combinations of letters that made words starting and ending with 'K'.  The word 'Kodak' is the result."

Thanks for watching misconceptions on mental_floss video.  If you have a topic for an upcoming misconceptions episode that you would like to see, please leave them in the comments and I will see you next week.