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Historical Events So Ridiculous They Sound Made Up

A Redditor asked: 'What’s an event in history that is so ridiculous it sounds fake?'

historical reenactors
Sigmund on Unsplash

We've probably all heard some variation of the saying "Truth is stranger than fiction."

Real life isn't just strange, it can also be downright ridiculous.

History is riddled with moments of absurdity.

So ridiculous that people have a hard time believing real life is, well, really real.


A Redditor asked:

"What’s an event in history that is so ridiculous it sounds fake?"

Moostaken Identity

"Hannibal saved his army by tying torches to the horns of 5,000 cows and driving them in one direction."

"The Romans thought they were the enemy army and converged on them, while Hannibal quietly snuck his 10,000 man force out of the valley by another route."

~ Marxbrosburner

War Without Casualties

"That time Denmark and Canada (I think) had a 'war' over Hans island."

"Every time a Navy vessel drove by they picked up the flag of the over nation, planted their own and left a bottle of alcohol."

"I heard it stopped not that long ago."

~ FairyQueen89

"It also means that both Canada and Denmark now share a land border with more than one country."

"Also (jokingly) means that Canada could potentially join the EU, as it now borders an EU nation."

~ millijuna

Oh, 💩

"The Erfurt Latrine Disaster occurred on 26 July 1184, when Henry VI, King of Germany (later Holy Roman Emperor), held a Hoftag (informal assembly) in the Petersberg Citadel in Erfurt."

"On the morning of 26 July, the combined weight of the assembled nobles caused the wooden second story floor of the building to collapse and most of them fell through into the latrine cesspit below the ground floor, where about 60 of them drowned in liquid excrement."

~ amerkanische_Frosch

Running On Empty

"The 1904 Olympic Marathon in St. Louis."

"32 athletes took part, but only 14 were able to finish—there was only one water station in the entire 26-mile course. The 'winner' was later disqualified because they found out he drove half the race in his car."

"The new winner (the guy who came in second) had to be carried over the finish line by his trainers because they’d been dosing him the whole time with a strange mixture of strychnine, brandy, and egg whites."

"Several people almost died of internal injuries. Multiple runners stole things from passersby."

"Most people in the race weren’t even Olympic-level athletes, just amateur runners, many of whom didn’t even have to run a full marathon to qualify."

~ Blacl-Owl

Stonewalled

"When two perfectly working pistols failed to fire on US President Andrew Jackson who then beat his would-be-assassin so badly that the presidential security detail had to pull him off to save the man's life."

~ sleepwalkfromsherdog

The Log Shot First

"The guy who founded Scientology once engaged in a multi-day naval battle with a log. He would then go on to commit an act of war against Mexico."

~ Duck_Whistle

"In June 1942, Hubbard was given command of a patrol boat at the Boston Navy Yard, but he was relieved after the yard commandant wrote that Hubbard was 'not temperamentally fitted for independent command'."

"In 1943, Hubbard was given command of a submarine chaser, but only five hours into the shakedown cruise, Hubbard believed he had detected an enemy submarine. Hubbard and crew spent the next 68 hours engaged in combat."

"An investigation concluded that Hubbard had likely mistaken a 'known magnetic deposit' for an enemy sub. The following month, Hubbard unwittingly fired upon Mexican territory and was relieved of command."

"In 1944, Hubbard served aboard the USS Algol before being transferred. The night before his departure, Hubbard reported the discovery of an attempted sabotage."

"I believe he had his men fire into hills in Baja California. He must not have realized that you can’t just use another country for target practice."

~ csfshrink

Bling, Bling

"The Field of the Cloth of Gold, where King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France tried to out-bling each other."

"The fact that two monkeys covered in gold leaf were far from the most ostentatious display is a good indication of how tasteful it was."

~ notatravis

"I assumed you meant two statues of monkeys in gold leaf."

"But no, actual real-life monkeys. Somebody painted actual real-life monkeys gold."

~ Youre_so_damn_fat

Sorry We Can't Shoot You

"When America went to war with Spain, the Spanish forgot to tell their territory, Guam.

"The US sent a single warship to the island where they took 13 shots at the fort."

"The leaders on the island rowed out to apologize they couldn't return their 'salute' because they had no gunpowder."

"That is why Guam is a US territory."

~ Wetworth

Ribbit

"The Great Windham Frog War."

"In 1754 Windham, Connecticut was still a frontier settlement. One hot night the residents awoke to gruesome sounds that convinced them that the local Natives were attacking."

"Throughout the night they strove to drive off the attackers with steady gunfire. In the morning they crept out, to find thousands of dead frogs who had spent the night competing for the dwindling water."

"Rather than being ashamed, this has become a central part of the town’s character. The town’s symbol is a frog and the bridge is decorated with large frogs at each corner."

~ DdraigGwyn

Psych!

"Operation Mincemeat."

"Basically, the British dressed a random dead guy in a military uniform, put fake invasion plans in his pocket, and dropped him on the shore of Spain."

"The Spanish found the body (and invasion plans) and informed Germany."

"Germany, believing the invasion plans were real, sent an army to Greece—which is exactly what the Brits wanted, because they were actually going to invade Sicily."

~ ThePinkTeenager

They Got Worms

"For a very long time the Roman empire was able to acquire silk through trade over 'the silk road' to China, but never able to unlock the secrets of producing it domestically themselves."

"Until 552AD, when two monks preaching in India then travelled to China, where they witnessed the guarded methods of using the live silk worm to spin the famous thread."

"Knowing the importance of what they'd learned, the monks returned to Constantinople to report directly to the emperor Justinian."

"He personally met the monks, heard all the details of what they'd seen, then asked them to return to China and find a way of smuggling these worms back to the empire."

"They agreed, and prepared for the 2 year ~6,500km (4,000mi) trek back to China on foot, hoof and wheel."

"Once back in China they acquired either eggs or young larvae, since the adults are too delicate for transport, and tucked them into hollowed bamboo canes for the long journey straight back home."

"Once the monks made it back to Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey), domestic silk production slowly ramped up and the need for long journeys along the 'silk road' ramped down."

"Over time, this allowed the same type of silk monopoly which China had enjoyed through the prior centuries to now be established in the Mediterranean, becoming one of the bedrocks of the Byzantine economy for the next 700 years.It's crazy to think about these two guys."

"1500 years before you or I were born, making their second multi-year, 6,500km trek back from China, smuggling two bamboo canes full of bugs which would fuel the economy of one of the world's largest civilizations for the next 700 years."

"I wonder if they knew and understood these possibilities when they went to scoop the worms from their baskets in China...Imagine the anxiety trying to keep them hidden and alive the whole way back!"

~ ChipHazardous

Ape 💩

"The Gombe Chimpanzee War."

"It sounds like something right out of a Planet of The Apes movie."

"The Gombe Chimpanzee War, also known as the Four-Year War, was a violent conflict between two communities of chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park in the Kigoma region of Tanzania between 1974 and 1978."

"The two groups were once unified in the Kasakela community. By 1974, researcher Jane Goodall noticed the community splintering."

"Over a span of eight months, a large party of chimpanzees separated themselves into the southern area of Kasakela and were renamed the Kahama community. The separatists consisted of six adult males, three adult females and their young."

"The Kasakela was left with eight adult males, twelve adult females and their young."

"During the four-year conflict, all males of the Kahama community were killed, effectively disbanding the community. The victorious Kasakela then expanded into further territory but were later repelled by two other communities of chimpanzees."

~ DeadalusJones

Hong Xiuquan Christ?

"The Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864)."

"Hong Xiuquan, who failed the imperial exam on the third try to become a civil servant, had a breakdown and dreamed that he was the brother of Jesus Christ."

"He later led a revolution resulting in between 20 to 30 million deaths. That's the bloodiest civil war in the world and the toll of death surpasses the totality of casualties in WWI."

"British diplomats at the time wanted to support the revolution but later discovered that Hong Xiuquan literally never read the Bible and they thus deemed it would be disastrous if he were to get the throne."

"This historical event feels like a fever dream everytime I hear about it."

~ Freezemoon

Pied Piper

"John 'Mad Jack' Churchill was a British officer in World War Two. He’s famous because he brought along a Scottish claymore, bagpipes, and a bow and got the 'only confirmed longbow kill of the Second World War'."

"One time he was with part of his commando unit and a shell exploded and injured everyone but him, so he played a Scottish Jacobite song on his bagpipes until the Germans captured him and sent him to a prison camp."

"He promptly escaped via a tunnel he dug and almost got to the ocean before he got recaptured."

"By then, it was April 1945, and the German military was falling apart, so they let him go pretty quickly."

"He’s famous for the quote 'any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed'."

~ 3000ghosts

What absurdly, ridiculous event would you add?

person holding photo of three girls near chainlink fence
Anita Jankovic on Unsplash

Life is all about learning new things, including learning new things about the people in your life. Sometimes, the things you learn are shocking, disgusting, or even scary.

I was the new kid in town when I was in fifth grade and my first friend was this quiet (and cute) boy in my class. He and I remained friends through middle school, and even though we drifted apart in high school, our interactions when we ran into each other in the halls or the cafeteria were really nice.

All throughout school and even beyond, he remained quiet, polite, and reserved. Just a few years ago, I read a news article written about him. He had apparently fatally wounded his father after an argument.

I had to reread the article several times to make sure it was really about my old friend. I think about it a lot, and still can't believe it!

I'm not the only one that has a shocking story like that. A lot of Redditors learned shocking or scary things about people from their childhood, and are ready to share.

It all started when Redditor ValuableHovercraft90 asked:

"What's the scariest thing you have found out about someone from your childhood (old friends, teachers, etc)?"

So Creepy

"That the boy who lived across the street and moved when I was 6 is still obsessed with me and my sister 30+ years later and posts ramblings on Facebook with our names and that he's going to be with us. Pretty terrifying honestly."

– mrscrawfish

The Worst List

"A neighbour died when he was 30. Police searched a trailer he owned and found weapons, bombs and a list of people he wanted to kill. My uncle was on that list."

– Flashy_Somewhere_648

"I'm glad this ended the way it did."

– CreepyCandidate4449

Terrifying

"One of my best friends (and locker partner) from high school was kidnapped by terrorists in Iraq. After a nightmare of 6+ months, all went silent. We buried an empty casket in his memory 10 years later."

– francois_du_nord

"This is horrifying. How incredibly sad for family to never get any closure. Very sad to read this. :("

– fizzycherryseltzer

"About 15 years ago my dad received a very good offer for work in Iraq, as a construction specialist. He was considering going, since at the same time the financial crisis started in Europe, but then one of his friends, a civil engineer, was kidnapped. Never returned back either."

– 19lgkrn70

"Same thing for my dad old coworker told him how great the money was. Dude got sniped working on a radio tower or something. My dad luckily was like, "I got a wife and family that would kill me for doing something so dangerous.""

– tristanjones

End Of The Friendship

"One of my dad's good friends, and my "uncle", just stopped coming around one day. I was told he was always busy with work, away, etc."

"Turns out, he killed 3 people in a drug deal gone bad and got life in prison."

"What's scary, is that we were over at his house for a weekend BBQ with a bunch of people earlier in the day of the night he did it, and it happened at his house."

– pnwking509

School Friends

"Don't know if it was scary, but I grew up with a kid whose birthday was the day before mine so we almost always shared birthdays in elementary school. We were friends, even spent the night at his house growing up. Later on in our teens, he started getting into some really dark stuff. I recognize that now as his being a sociopath, but like most everybody else at the time, figured it was just him going through some kind of emo phase. Over the years, we lost touch but I would occasionally run into him around town and our meetings were cordial, if not friendly."

"Last year, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison for killing a man back in 1993, roughly 3 years after we got out of High School. Apparently he, his sister and another man lured this guy out to the boonies and killed him to steal money he had gotten in an insurance settlement."

"The only reason they were caught is the other guy got religion, felt remorse and went on the local TV station and aired a confession before turning himself in (He got 25 to life)."

– 530_Oldschoolgeek

"A girl I went to school with did the same thing. She was the nicest girl, got good grades & was kind of a dork. Mixed with the wrong people after graduation. She and two others lured an old man into an abandoned building, stabbed him and robbed him. He later died from his wounds."

– HereF0rTheSnacks

The Worst Afternoon

"I had a friend in grade school who was being raised by her single dad. She had a unique name and pretty face. She never talked about her mom, and she was super outgoing, so all us kids just made friends with her quickly. It was weird her dad never brought her to our birthday parties, even though she was always invited, but we didn’t think much of it. A couple times, she was allowed to ride the bus home with me after school, and we played and had fun until her dad came to pick her up. Later in the school year, she invited me to ride the bus to her house, and my mom agreed. I was 10. It was the scariest afternoon of my young life. I cannot articulate the extreme tension in her home. We weren’t allowed to make any noise, and we mostly stayed outside, me desperate for my mom to arrive."

"Her dad screamed at us for opening the door, and I was too nervous to go into the house to use the restroom. I knew she was embarrassed that there were no snacks or comforting interactions, like at my house. I didn’t really tell anyone how uncomfortable the experience was. After that day, I didn’t hang out with her a lot. We were in different classes, drifted apart, and decades later, when my own daughter asked to go to a friend’s house, I thought about that girl."

"As an adult, I figured out her dad probably worked a night shift and tried to sleep during the day…or he was an alcoholic who was really angry. Maybe both? I looked her up on social media, and thanks to her unique name and face, I recognized her immediately. She’s a perfectly well-adjusted woman with a beautiful family. She even had pictures of her kids with her dad and tributes to him as the greatest father and grandpa. Her whole page made me wonder what the hell I experienced that afternoon in the 4th grade?"

– OlderAndTired

School Is Supposed To Be Safe!

"In our school, we had something called "de halte." In English, it means "the halt" literally translated. Basically time out. BIf you had a meltdown in class or you were just a little sh*thead, you were sent there for 15 minutes or so to cool off.

The de hatle teacher got fired and jailed for breaking 4 different wrists of 4 different students by bending them the wrong way..."

– Ok_Win7358

*Skin Crawling*

​"There was this classmate a grade below me but all grades shared the same drama class. She was weird and kind of "off." I tried to befriend her at one point and was rebuffed. It later came out that she was actually an almost 30-year-old woman who would show up in a new area claiming to be a 15-year-old runaway. Kind of freaked me out."

jackfaire

It turns out it was a good thing that the friendship didn't work out!

Group of people dining out at a restaurant
Dan Gold on Unsplash

When we think of the term "red flags," we're quick to think of red flags that might appear in a problematic or abusive relationship.

But red flags can appear in any place in our life, especially the workplace or places that consumers frequent, like big box stores and restaurants.

When it comes to restaurant red flags, these are important to note, as they could have a negative impact on a consumer's health.

Redditor FlintTheDad asked:

"What's an immediate red flag at a restaurant?"

Fair Enough

"When you see the owner breaking apart frozen chicken on the curb outback."

- Mourning-Poo

High Humidity

"High humidity inside."

- Presitigious_Gold_585

"Yes! The small that causes is unmistakable."

- TemperatureTop246

Sticky Furniture

"All of the furniture and menus are weirdly sticky..."

- Silver_Sunshine360

"I know what *some* of that is. Some furniture and cleaning solutions aren't compatible. The cleaning spray reacts with the finish on the table tops, and softens, it, which makes it feel a bit sticky, and dulls it super fast... but it's the sanitizer cleaner they use for *everything*, and they don't want to have to deal with a separate cleaner for certain surfaces."

"I used to sell commercial office furniture, and we'd run into this issue sometimes. The worst was when a company asked us to source some tables they found from a local craftsman (since we were already an approved vendor in their system, they often had us buy and deliver stuff for them). Beautiful, hand-made stuff."

"So we bought them and arranged for the delivery and placement. When we got to the site and saw where they wanted them, I cringed... I knew the tables were finished in shellac, and they were having us put them in their lounge area, where I knew they often had events with drinks."

"Shellac dissolves in alcohol. Spilling a drink on it can ruin the finish. Before we left, I left a note on the tables about being careful and emailed the client some care tips. The NEXT DAY they sent us pictures of the ruined finish, asking, 'What is wrong with our tables?!'"

- NecroJoe

Sounds Fishy

"A seafood restaurant should NOT smell fishy."

- turtyurt

"And conversely, a seafood MARKET that does not smell fishy is indeed fishy."

- FourMeterRabbit

A Specific Smell

"That *smell.*"

"You know the one. floors feel a little slippery/slimy underfoot and it smells like they've been mopping the place with the same dirty mop and bucket water for weeks."

"This isn't something you're likely to see in a nice place but I've encountered it in more fast-casual dining places than I care to remember."

- y2knole

"THAT smell. It always reminds me of yeast rolls. I guess it's bacteria in the mop water that has been setting in that bucket for three days."

- SpeelingChamp

Restroom Cleanliness

"Dirty restrooms."

- carboncanyondesign

"This is a dead giveaway. If they can't keep part of the restaurant that the public DOES see clean, you can imagine how the non-public facing parts look."

- OkaySureBye

"Health inspector here. The key is to look for build-up that looks like it's been there more than a day. Most places don't have bathroom attendants and it's unrealistic to expect public bathrooms to be spotless every minute of the day."

- Vives_solo_una_vez

The Right Audience

"Whenever I have friends come to visit me in Osaka and they're dying to try some authentic ramen. My goto line is:"

"'Look for the most run-down looking, back ally shack you can, the more run-down looking; the better. Guaranteed It'll be the best ramen you'll ever have!'"

"And to anyone who happens to read this, no, Ichiran is NOT the best reman joint. It's nice don't get me wrong but please ask around, research ramen in the area you're visiting, I guarantee you there's SO much better out there!"

- kevo998

"I look for people of that ethnicity eating there. Mexican restaurant with only white people? It might be good. Mexican restaurant with Mexicans wearing high-vis shirts? S**t's going be fire. Bonus points if there’s a grocery store attached."

"The same thing goes for Asian restaurants sans the high-vis shirts."

- PsychoticMessiah

Too Many Variables

"A huge menu."

- dnb_4eva

"A huge VARIED menu."

"Places like Chinese, Mexican, and Indian restaurants generally have large menus, but most items use the same base ingredients."

"It's the places that try to incorporate lots of wildly different dishes that you want to avoid."

- MagnusPI

Unexpected Restaurant Guests

"A raccoon falling through the ceiling tiles. 1:00 AM, drunk as h**l, looking for something to eat, and I found a dive that was still open. I ordered my food, and while waiting for my order, a raccoon fell from the ceiling."

"The waitress ran to the back screaming. The cook came out armed with a cleaver and chased it into the kitchen. The look on his face was like it had happened before. Other people eating there were in shock and got up and left."

"Mystery meat: the new special. Get me the f**k out of there."

- alwaystired707

That Wait Time

"I immediately look to see if there is anyone actually eating. If there are a half dozen tables with no food on them, and people looking anxiously to the kitchen, I'm out."

- scotttr3b

Cleaning Response Time

"Multiple dirty tables that haven’t been cleared. If the restaurant isn’t crowded, staff should have time to clean them. If it is crowded, staff should be trying to turn tables over quickly."

"Dirty tables mean they are either severely understaffed or the staff just doesn’t care. Either way, you will be waiting a long time."

- 787la57la47al

Inappropriate Smells

"Once went into a restaurant that boasted the biggest Cinnamon Rolls in the city/state... Only for there to be a pervasive smell of absolutely raw stagnate sewage throughout the dining room. Needless to say, did not return."

- nekroves

Construction Said It Best

"A green flag for a restaurant is when you see a lot of construction workers going there for lunch. You'll know it's cheap and good, hearty food."

"In my old city, there was this tiny little family-owned Chinese restaurant with delicious and cheap lunch specials. Every construction worker downtown sat at the counter at the front for lunch."

"Meanwhile, the waiters would be in this little back room watching TV and the chef must have been at least 70 years old. The food was genuinely so delicious and filling. Probably not good for your cholesterol but so tasty!"

- okaymoose

Atmosphere Matters

"Not a red flag about the food but if a place has their music up so loud I can’t hear the person I’m with, then I won’t eat there."

- Adro87

"Conversely, if it's TOO quiet; as in, not only is the sound system way too low, but if the customers are also weirdly quiet (barely having conversations, just sort of sitting there) and the atmosphere seems almost stifling."

"A couple of years ago we walked into a gastropub in Scotland just like this - very low music, the room was half full (and this was at peak lunch time), and everyone who was there were just sitting, looking sullen, barely speaking, waiting for their food. Just really... odd... vibes."

"After five minutes of sitting at the bar trying to get the attention of staff (who were all standing around looking at their phones), we left and went to a definitely *not fancy* cafe down the block that was the absolutely opposite: people just seemed happy to be there, staff were attentive, and the vibe was really welcoming."

- Good_Difference_2837

The Ultimate Red Flag

"Gordon Ramsey walking in with a camera crew."

- Tint-kicker

"One of the local restaurants we like was recently closed for a bit due to filming for 'Kitchen Nightmares.'"

"My husband still likes to get their food, but I'm waiting until the episode airs!"

- Lington

No restaurant is going to be perfect 100 percent of the time. They're going to have a slow night or poor response time or get some orders wrong from time to time.

But there are far more problematic behaviors and characteristics to find in a restaurant that are perfectly good reasons to never go back there again, no matter how good they may have been in the past.