Thanks, Mom

10 Bizarre Lies ‘90s Kids Were Told — & Still Low-Key Believe, If We’re Being Honest

Anyone else grow up terrified of eating a watermelon?

by Morgan Flaherty
A group of kids blow bubbles with gum.
Niedring/Drentwett/Getty Images

Calling all my fellow '90s kids, because we need to talk. Let me take you back to a time of Beanie Babies, the Spice Girls, and when the only being you had to worry about keeping alive was your Tamagotchi. There was another aspect of growing up in the '90s that I simply cannot stop thinking about, though, and that's the bizarre lies adults would tell us to get us to stop doing something.

Perhaps it was because Google wasn't readily available to debunk their strange myths, or maybe these were lies they themselves were told during childhood. Either way, we really need to talk about these completely strange "fibs" that '90s kids grew up believing (and, according to data, still believe in some cases!).

1. Swallowing watermelon seeds will make a watermelon grow in your stomach.

The most terrifying myth of them all? Swallowing watermelon seeds will cause a watermelon to grow in your stomach. I distinctly remember the overwhelming fear of what would possibly happen the moment I ate watermelon. However, there is absolutely zero truth to this misconception. The strange myth likely comes from the fact that the body cannot digest watermelon seeds but instead passes them through the digestive system whole. Luckily, they do so without leaving an entire watermelon behind. Phew!

2. Cracking knuckles will cause arthritis.

Another prevalent (re: scary) myth was that cracking your knuckles would lead to arthritis in your joints. However, if you're a chronic knuckle cracker like me, rest assured you likely have nothing to worry about. According to a Harvard Medical School study, "the "pop" of a cracked knuckle is caused by bubbles bursting in the synovial fluid — the fluid that helps lubricate joints." The study concluded that there's likely no correlation between cracking your knuckles and having arthritis later in life.

3. Your eyes will get stuck like that when you cross them.

At one point or another growing up, we were all sternly told by a parent to stop crossing our eyes because "they'll get stuck like that." The prospect was too terrifying to question and certainly stopped me from wanting to make the goofy facial expression too often. But consider this myth completely busted. Doctors confirm that your eye muscles are meant to go in any direction and won't stick that way. However, no guarantee doing it for too long won't cause a headache.

4. Gum will stay in your stomach for seven years.

Raise your hand if you ever swallowed gum only to be hit with the terrified feeling that that gum will be with you for the rest of your life. Elizabeth Rajan, M.D., writes for the Mayo Clinic that swallowing gum isn't harmful. She writes, "If you swallow gum, it's true that your body can't digest it. But the gum doesn't stay in your stomach. It moves relatively intact through your digestive system and is excreted in your stool." So, obviously, don't go swallowing loads of gum. But, if you did ever swallow any, rest assured you aren't still carrying it with you years later.

5. Drinking coffee will stunt your growth.

Remember when you got to middle school and started downing Frappucinos at Starbucks? You likely heard from a parent that drinking caffeine would stunt your growth, leaving you terrified that you'd stay your current height forever. Well, we needn't have feared. According to a Harvard Medical School study, there is no scientific data to suggest coffee stunts growth. The study clarifies that the idea came from the misconception that coffee causes osteoporosis, a condition that may be associated with a loss in height.

6. Chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

OK, this one is admittedly cute. However, chocolate milk does not, in fact, come from brown cows (as un-fun as that truth may be). But if you wholeheartedly believed this lie when your mom or favorite uncle told it to you, you certainly aren't alone. According to a 2017 survey from the Innovative Center for U.S. Dairy, 7% of American adults still think chocolate milk comes from brown cows. That's over 17 million people (!).

7. You can drown if you swim after eating.

I don't know about you, but this is a lie I believed way past the '90s. Remember being told that swimming immediately after eating would cause you to drown? According to Dr. Michael Boniface, a Mayo Clinic emergency medicine physician, this theory came from the myth that "some of the blood may be diverted to your gut so that you can digest, diverting the bloodstream away from your arms and legs." This fatigue would, in theory, make you more likely to drown.

Dr. Boniface confirms that there is no scientific evidence for this, though. While you may end up with a stomach or muscle cramp, you can steadfastly ignore this advice.

8. It's illegal to drive with any interior dome lights on in the car after dark.

How many car rides and road trips in your youth were punctuated by your parents telling you to turn the back interior lights off so they wouldn't get pulled over by a cop? It was dark, and you just wanted a little light to read the latest Highlights or play with your new Happy Meals toy. But your Mom and Dad were insistent they'd get ticketed if you kept the dome light on. According to Policy Genius, though, it is not technically illegal. So, why the histrionics? Driving with dome lights on can make it harder for the driver to see, thereby creating a safety issue.

9. Dogs see in black and white.

Did you believe your dog could only see in black and white? This was less a lie and more a common misconception among… well, everyone! However, science now tells us that dogs do not only see in black and white. Instead, they can see color, albeit they see it differently than humans. Dogs have fewer color receptors than us, so their color spectrum is a bit more limited. But it's still there and certainly gives them more than just black and white to see.

10. And eating carrots will help you see better.

Man, '90s kids should be able to see in the dark by now, thanks to all the carrots we hoovered. Alas, carrots don't *exactly* make you see better. Vitamin A promotes healthy eyesight, and beta-carotene converts to Vitamin A in the body — and, as you probably know, carrots do contain beta-carotene. But so do other foods, such as sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and, yep, even pumpkin pie.

I hope we can all rest easily now knowing we can safely eat before swimming and won't be growing a watermelon in our stomachs anytime soon. Luckily, we millennials can all bond with each other on our shared experience of being told the absolute most bizarre lies as children.