1. The Tide Pod Challenge: The year began with the very intelligent trend of people eating Tide Pods for the sake of . . . um . . . social media likes? Existential angst? The thrill of almost dying in the dumbest possible way?
Anyway, the Tide Pod Challenge actually BOOSTED Tide's sales, under the "any publicity is good publicity" rule.
And in the spirit of the Tide Pod Challenge, here are a few of the other moments of people doing things that were stupid beyond all belief this year . . .
. . . In March, someone in Arizona called the cops from a local park's "Day of the Dinosaurs" event to ask if the dinosaurs were real.
. . . And at a park in Michigan in March, someone called the cops to report a DEMENTOR from "Harry Potter" was flying around. It was a garbage bag.
. . . A bakery in South Carolina wouldn't put "Summa Cum Laude" on a graduation cake in May, because they thought it was a sex thing.
. . . And in July, an ancient sarcophagus was discovered in Egypt . . . and a petition immediately circulated to drink the 2,000-year-old red sewage water inside of it.
2. The '90s are back, baby: If something was popular in the '90s, there was a good chance someone tried to reboot it this year. That includes . . .
. . . The scrunchie making a comeback.
. . . McDonald's testing out a new version of their infamous '90s flop the Arch Deluxe.
. . . Slice coming back, but not as a Sprite competitor, as a La Croix competitor.
. . . Nickelodeon Green Slime ketchup debuting at Walmart.
. . . Pop-Tarts Cereal . . . which only lasted from 1994 to 1995 . . . coming back to stores.
. . . Trix bringing back the fruit-shaped cereal pieces they had from 1991 to 2006.
. .. And Burger King adding Cini Minis back to its breakfast menu.
3. United Airlines killed a puppy: The airlines continued their business philosophy of "we're the worst companies in the country, but you're stuck with us because you don't have any other options" in 2018.
. . . United Airlines got its annual dose of horrifying press in March when a flight attendant forced a woman to put her puppy in the overhead bin . . . and by the time the flight landed, the puppy was DEAD.
. . . And a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas blew an engine in April . . . a piece of shrapnel punctured a window . . . and a woman was KILLED when she was sucked into the hole. That's the first time a person has died in an accident involving one of the American commercial airlines since 2009.
. . . On the much less dark side of airline travel this year, in July, a woman live-tweeted from a plane as the two people in the row in front of her seemed to fall in love over the course of the flight.
. . . And in August, there was a case on United where a woman traveled with her emotional support monkey . . . and the monkey traveled with its emotional support dog. That's right: The support animal had a support animal.
4. Laurel or Yanny?: It took more than three years, but in 2018, we finally found a worthy successor to The Dress. An audio clip went viral in May where a voice was either saying "Laurel" . . . or "Yanny."
It turned out if you're younger or you were listening on bad speakers, you'd probably year "yanny," since it was coming through on higher frequencies. If you're older or had good headphones, you'd hear "laurel" . . . which WAS correct, by the way.
As for the other random Internet debates that BLEW PEOPLE'S MINDS this year . . .
. . There was a big debate in January over whether a straw has one hole or two.
. . A photo went viral in August that was either a beach . . . or a door.
. . . A Halloween debate asked which part of candy corn is the top.
. . In November, people argued whether Oreo cookies are black or brown.
. . And earlier this month, an article made people reassess everything they thought they knew by declaring the correct way to eat burgers is upside-down.
5. Parents are hiring video game tutors for their kids: I'm not sure any story could ever do a better job of summing up both this generation of kids AND this generation of parents.
In August, the "Wall Street Journal" reported on a trend of parents hiring VIDEO GAME TUTORS for their kids.
And here are a few other "sign of the times" stories for you . . .
. . . Florida State University announced in August that freshman could skip a mandatory stress reduction class . . . if they felt it would be too stressful.
. . . A terrorist group in Somalia . . . that's apparently unfamiliar with the concept of irony . . . banned plastic bags in July because they're, quote, "a serious threat to the wellbeing of humans."
. . . Nabisco redesigned the Barnum's Animal Crackers box in August, to make the animals cage-free for the first time in the 115-year history of the cookies.
. . . And for reasons we still can't quite figure out, Colorado State University banned the phrase "long time, no see" last month because they said it's offensive to people of Asian descent.
6. A study determines what temperatures are "hot as balls" or "cold as hell": 2018 brought us plenty of dumb studies, but the highlight was in May, when a web developer used statistics to define the phrases "hot as balls" and "cold as hell."
He analyzed more than 5,000 tweets to see when people used those phrases, and cataloged the temperatures at those times. It turns out "hot as balls" is 84 degrees, and "cold as hell" is 48.
And here are a few more high-quality studies from the year . . .
. . . In March, scientists figured out how much poop you'll produce in your life. It's between 24,000 and 26,000 pounds.
. . . A study in June found the average person thinks God looks like a young Brad Pitt. Or maybe Jimmy Fallon, Elon Musk, or Val Kilmer.
. . . And another study in June found that it might be worse for you to hover over a nasty toilet seat than just to plop yourself down on it.
. . . And last month, scientists swallowed Legos to figure out how long it takes them to pass through your system. The answer is 1.7 days.
7. People who are sick of Tinder are now into "slow dating" . . . which you just know as regular dating: No story from 2018 will make you want to slap your forehead as much as this one.
A report in August found that young, single people are getting tired of Tinder and dating apps, so they're into a trend called "slow dating." That's where you meet someone in person, and then go out on a date with them. How cutting edge!
And there were plenty of romantic stories this year that showed the power of modern love . . .
. . . In January, a college student in Florida announced she's planning to marry "Tetris" . . . which was great news for her, since her previous relationship with a calculator had ended badly.
. . . A guy in Canada met a woman named Nicole in September, then emailed all 246 Nicoles at his college to try to find her again. A lot of those Nicoles became friends . . . and the guy and that one special Nicole WERE reunited.
. . . And in June, a woman ALMOST broke up with her boyfriend when she found he ate Kit Kats by taking a big bite out of the entire bar . . . but they reconciled, and the next month he proposed to her by putting the ring in a Kit Kat.
8. A guy tricked the cops into breaking up with his girlfriend for him: Passive aggressive break-ups are VERY hot, and in 2018, none was more passive aggressive than THIS.
A 42-year-old guy . . . yes, FORTY-TWO . . . in Canada called the cops in August and asked them to tell his ex-girlfriend not to show up at his house anymore.
When the cops got there, they found out she thought they were still in a relationship . . . and she realized he'd just used the cops to break up with her.
And here are a few more stories about the death of romance in 2018 . . .
. . . In June, a guy sued CVS for ruining his marriage by telling his wife about his Viagra prescription.
. . . A guy in Florida managed to get the developers of the "Spider-Man"video game to put in a marriage proposal to his girlfriend . . . but when the game came out in September, she'd just DUMPED him.
. . . And in July, a woman in Turkey gave her husband an ultimatum: It's me or the dog. He went dog.
9. A guy puts a six-year-old McDonald's burger and fries on eBay . . . and they don't look like they've aged: If you ever doubt the power of fast food preservatives, pay attention to this story from July.
A guy in Canada kept a McDonald's cheeseburger and fries for six years as an experiment. And he put it up for sale on eBay . . . and it REALLY didn't look like it had aged much. eBay wound up pulling down the listing before it sold.
As for some other disgusting moments in food this year . . .
. . . A guy in California who ate sushi every day pulled a five-and-a-half foot tapeworm out of his body.
. . . A grocery store in Kuwait was busted for sticking googly eyes on their fish in September to make them look fresher.
. . . Students at two schools in Nebraska got sick in October when the cafeteria served chili made with kangaroo meat.
. . . And a woman went viral in March for her way of getting revenge on guests she didn't like: Boiling hot dogs, putting the water into an ice cube tray, and then putting the hot dog-flavored ice in their drinks.
10. IHOP temporarily changes its name, and for some reason people really care: In June, IHOP announced it was changing its name to "IHOB," to celebrate some new burgers.
It was a pretty basic marketing stunt that was clearly temporary . . . but for some reason, people online went CRAZY about it. The stunt quadrupled their sales and led to 20,000 news articles and 36 billion social media impressions.
And here are a few other marketing stunts that succeeded this year . . .
. . . Banksy pulled one of his greatest stunts ever in October when a painting of his sold for $1.4 million . . . and then immediately self-destructed thanks to a shredder he'd hidden in its frame.
. . . A website came out in October called WhoPaid99Cents.com. The entire purpose: You could pay 99 cents to see who else paid 99 cents.
. . . And Kat Von D's Tattoo Eyeliner went viral in April after a woman left it a UNIQUE review: She was wearing it when she had a serious car accident, and she was impressed that it never smeared at any point in the process.
11. Starbucks has two guys arrested for "waiting while black": One of the unfortunate trends that continued in 2018 was people calling the cops on black people for just doing normal, everyday things.
Starbucks got a ton of bad PR in April when a store in Philadelphia had two black guys arrested while they were just sitting there, waiting for a friend.
And Starbucks wound up changing its corporate policy after that, where now anyone can hang at their stores regardless of whether or not they buy anything.
And here are a few other epic failures from the year . . .
. . . In January, the people of Hawaii had the scare of their lives when they got an emergency text alert saying, quote, "Ballistic missile threat inbound . . . this is not a drill." It was a false alarm.
. . . And in a moment I still can't wrap my head around, in October, a student was shot and killed at a high school in North Carolina . . . and they didn't even cancel classes for the rest of the day.
12. Someone won the biggest jackpot in lottery history . . . and still hasn't claimed it: Back in October,someone in South Carolina won the all-time record $1.5 BILLION Mega Millions jackpot.
But . . . they still haven't claimed it. And they only have until mid-April to cash in . . . or all of the states that kick in toward the jackpot get their money back.
By the way . . . that jackpot was so big that, in theory, you could've bought every possible ticket combination and still turned a profit.
And here are a few other stories of about questionable financial decisions . . .
. . . In August, KFC offered $11,000 to any couple having a baby on Colonel Sanders' birthday, September 9th, and naming their kid "Harland." And a couple in North Carolina actually did it . . . they stuck their daughter with the name Harland.
. . . A bride went viral in August when she called off her wedding . . . because her guests wouldn't kick in $1,500 each to help pay for it.
. . . And back on January 4th, a woman boldly took her Christmas tree BACK to Costco to return it, quote, "because it's dead." And Costco gave her the refund.
13. The Coast Guard rescues a woman who fell off a boat . . . after her husband didn't realize she was gone: This will definitely put some strain on a marriage.
A husband and wife were sailing in Rhode Island in August . . . the woman FELL OFF . . . and the husband never realized she was gone. She swam to an island, where the Coast Guard rescued her several hours later.
And that wasn't the only ridiculous boating disaster of the year.
. . . In February, a couple from Colorado sold all of their stuff and bought a boat to sail the world. It sank after two days.
. . . On the bright side for them, after their story started spreading, they raised enough money through GoFundMe to buy another boat.
But from the look of their Instagram, it appears they haven't attempted to start sailing around the world again.
14. You've had the same number of "romantic partners" as your mom: You can't un-hear this: Last month, a study by Ohio State University found that there's a strong connection between your number of past partners . . . and your mom's.
The researchers say it's because our mothers pass on relationship skills to us. I could do without picturing my mother's "relationship skills."
And here are some other top parenting stories from this year . . .
. . . A mommy blogger in Georgia did some serious soul searching last month after she was blasted for complaining that pictures of one of her kids got FEWER LIKES than her other kids, quote, "From a statistical point of view, he wasn't as popular."
. . . A dad in Illinois was busted last month for posing as a referee to help his son's football team win a game.
. . . A woman in Sweden wanted to get a tattoo of her son's name, Kevin, but the tattoo artist accidentally wrote "Kelvin" . . . so the woman legally changed her son's name to that.
. . . And a guy posted a picture on Reddit of a strange tool he found in his dad's toolbox in October, asking what it was. The answer: BDSM nipple clamps.
15. A cow attacks a woman for singing "My Humps": Even cows don't like to be taunted . . . especially with a song that's on every single list ever made of the "most embarrassing songs of the 2000s."
A woman was visiting India in February and saw a cow with a HUMP on its back, so she started singing "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas to the cow. And . . . it made the cow so mad he charged at her and headbutted her.
And since cows are sacred in India, it seems that everyone there took the cow's side . . . and it wasn't punished.
And here are a few other animal-related stories from the year . . .
. . . A woman in England had her pet tortoise escape in July of last year. And she found it this January, six months later . . . across the street. It had made it 1,056 feet in six months.
. . . And a guy in New Zealand got in trouble with his girlfriend when she found another woman's underwear in his bed earlier this year. He said the cat had dragged it in . . . and it turned out that was the TRUTH.
16. The Pumpkin Spice Latte was expected to be a flop: It's impossible to imagine this outcome now, but the creator of Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte did an interview in September where he revealed the truth.
When they tested the drink in 2003, it did poorly with focus groups . . . and it was considered a LONG SHOT. Now, 15 years later, it's taken over the world.
And here were some other surprising revelations from this year . . .
. . . It turns out all Skittles are the same flavor . . . but they're scented to make us think the colors taste different.
. . . I can't believe this, but a survey in August found you actually CAN change someone's mind about politics on social media.
. . . Wendy's dropped a rap mixtape in March . . . and shocked the world when it was actually not terrible.
. . . And sadly, Craigslist shut down two of its signature features in March: Missed Connections and Casual Encounters. They were cut because of an anti-sex trafficking law that shut down all of the Craigslist personals sections.
17. "Monopoly for Millennials" is now a real thing: Hasbro made the poor decision last month to release a special version of Monopoly for Millennials, filled with stereotypes that are either tired or just unnecessarily insulting.
Like . . . there's a rule where whoever has the most debt in real life goes first, and the slogan on the box says, "Forget real estate. You can't afford it anyway."
And here are some of the other dumbest new products of 2018 . . .
. . . We got lots of DUMB JEANS this year: Inside-out . . . upside-down . . . butt cheeks ripped out . . . "extreme cutout" which means just pockets and a few strips of denim . . . and just the waistband.
. . . Burger King made a sandwich with a green bun for Halloween . . . and they ran a study that found it increases your chance of having nightmares.
. . . And Big Mouth Billy Bass is back, but now he's powered by Amazon Alexa.
18. A guy called the cops after a hard foul in a pickup basketball game: The grownup version of tattling is not a good look. In July, a guy in Virginia called the cops after someone fouled him hard during a pickup basketball game.
And the cops actually showed up . . . but the guy wound up not pressing charges.
Here are a few more stories of people getting upset for unique reasons . . .
. . . A guy in London was furious in August when he was fired . . . and he believed it was because of his MAN BUN.
. . . A woman who said she was injured by motorboating a drag queen sued the restaurant holding the drag show in March.
. . . Over the summer, a woman sued Canada Dry Ginger Ale because ginger isn't listed as an ingredient . . . and two people sued McDonald's for not giving them a discount when they ordered a Quarter Pounder WITHOUT cheese.
. . . And a woman who took an Ancestry.com DNA test filed a lawsuit in April after she found out she had a surprise father . . . her parents' fertility doctor, who secretly provided the sample that got her mom pregnant.
19. Two old guys escape their nursing home to go to a heavy metal festival: In August, two elderly men made international news when they escaped from their nursing home in Germany . . . to go to the world's biggest heavy metal festival.
When the cops found the men, they were, quote, "disoriented and dazed" . . . but they didn't want to leave.
And here are a few more stories about people doing unexpectedly cool things . . .
. . . In May, we learned about a trend called "brieing" . . . where middle-aged women take ecstasy by very classily putting it inside of a piece of brie cheese.
. . . Sam's Club leaned into its reputation in the best way possible in April, when they started selling nine-pound tubs of Oreo frosting.
. . . Scientists in Scotland developed contact lens that let you shoot laser beams with your eyes back in May.
. . . And "phoneless vacation" packages went on sale in March. They were such a surprisingly big hit that they sold out almost immediately.
20. Scientists have confirmed Uranus smells like flatulence: In April, scientists concluded that Uranus is just bursting with clouds made up of hydrogen sulfide, the gas that smells like rotten eggs.
So finally, here are the rest of our favorite NC-17, not safe for work, and immature stories of the year . . .
. . . A medical journal published a story in July about a woman in England who tried to propose to her boyfriend by putting the ring in her lady parts . . . but it got stuck.
. . . In February, a guy in China had his rectum fall out after he sat on the toilet too long while playing video games.
. . . A guy in England was diagnosed with the "world's worst" case of gonorrhea in March.
. . . In March, a study out of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found the best way to get over the embarrassment of passing gas in public.
. . . And to wrap up 2018, a couple in China couldn't conceive for four years . . . but in August, they found out it was because they were having the wrong kind of sex.