Mental Floss

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Editor Jessanne Collins[1]
Categories Trivia/Entertainment
Frequency Nine issues per year
Publisher Molly Bechert[2]
First issue May 2001
Company Mental Floss, LLC (Dennis Publishing)
Country United States
Based in New York, New York
Language English
ISSN 1543-4702

Mental Floss (stylized mental_floss) is an American magazine that presents facts and trivia in a humorous way. It is published nine times a year. hosts a popular blog, which presents additional trivia, features and interesting news articles. The magazine has a circulation of 160,000, while the website attracts nearly 10 million users a month.[3][4]

Launched in Birmingham, Alabama in 2001,[5][6] the company has additional offices in Midtown Manhattan. The magazine has more than 100,000 subscribers in over 17 countries.[7] The publication also has been included in Inc. magazine's list of the 5,000 fastest growing private companies.[8]

The magazine frequently publishes books and sells humorous T-shirts. It also developed a licensed trivia board game called Split Decision, similar to Trivial Pursuit. Its online store sells quirky home and office supplies, games and toys.

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 in the Duke cafeteria about the need for an entertaining educational magazine.[9] According to Hattikudur, they wanted to "distill some of the best lectures from our favorite college professors. We thought if we could bottle their enthusiasm and deliver it in monthly installments, it'd be great."[7]

Later, Pearson met with president of Duke University, who loved the idea, but disliked the name. The first published issue, known as the "Campus Edition", was published in spring 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.[10]

Notable contributors[edit]

  • Novelist John Green worked for the magazine early in his career. Having later become an established YouTube personality, he began hosting its YouTube channel in March 2013. In 2014, the Mental Floss channel was listed on New Media Rockstars Top 100 Channels, ranked at #71.[11]

Magazine sections[edit]

Each issue of Mental Floss magazine is divided into the following sections:

  • Scatterbrained: 10 pages of trivia, facts and anecdotes about an everyday topic or item.
  • Be Amazing!: 10 pages of short articles and interviews, often by guest contributors.
  • Left_Brain/Right_Brain: Contains articles about "left brain" topics, like science and logic, and "right brain" topics, like art and literature.
  • Features: Some examples of featured articles include an exposé of Shel Silverstein's darker side and a collection of the 25 Most Important Questions in the Universe.
  • Go Mental: Contains articles about religion, art, history and world culture.
  • The Quiz: Each issue contains a brief quiz at the back of the magazine.[12]

Recurring themes[edit]

Every year, Mental Floss publishes one "Ten Issue." It usually features lists of ten things focusing on subjects like: "Ten Most Forgettable Presidents," or "Ten Famous Monkeys in Science."[13]

Initially, "Mental Floss" tried to feature self-proclaimed mascot Albert Einstein on the cover of each issue. The magazine even did a 'swimsuit issue,' which featured a topless Einstein.[14]

Recurring blog categories[edit]

  • Morning Cup of Links: Interesting links to news stories, videos and memes from across the Internet
  • Lunchtime Quiz: Daily quizzes that ask trivia questions from one specific subject
  • The Amazing Fact Generator: A page that generates random facts and trivia
  • Big Questions: Articles that answer questions about history, origins, or science


Mental Floss sells merchandise through its online store and its retail store in Chesterland, Ohio.


  • Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp Through Civilization's Best Bits
  • Genius Instruction Manual
  • Scatterbrained
  • What's the Difference?
  • Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets
  • Condensed Knowledge
  • Forbidden Knowledge
  • Instant Knowledge
  • In the Beginning
  • Be Amazing
  • mental_floss: The Book: Only The Greatest Lists in the History of Listory
  • The Mental Floss History of the United States: The (Almost) Complete and (Entirely) Entertaining Story of America

Media coverage and awards[edit]

Mental Floss has been covered by magazines and newspapers such as Reader's Digest, Los Angeles Times,, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, Dallas Morning News, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Washington Post.[15] Other media coverage includes:

  • Listed as one of the Chicago Tribune 's 50 favorite magazines in June 2007[16]
  • Listed as one of PC World 's 100 favorite blogs in June 2007[17]
  • Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur among Inc. magazine's 30 "coolest young entrepreneurs[18]
  • Listed as the seventh most engaged company on Twitter by Digiday[19]
  • Recognized by TIME for having one of the top 140 Twitter feeds in 2013.[20]
  • Won a Webby Award for "Best Cultural Blog" in May, 2013.[21]
  • Finalist for "General Excellence" at the National Magazine Awards in 2013.[22]
  • Voted one of the "100 Best Websites for Women" by Forbes in 2013.[23]


  1. ^ Top Editor at Mental Floss Has Some Spicy Credentials
  2. ^ The Week Publications, Inc. (17 June 2015). "The Week Publications, Inc. Announces Senior Sales and Marketing Promotions". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  3. ^ "Gone Native: The Magazine Whose Editors Write Ad Content – Digiday". Digiday. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  4. ^ "We're Hiring Writers, Editors, and a Producer". Mental Floss. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  5. ^ Press Release describing magazine launch
  6. ^ "The 20 Best Magazines of the Decade (2000–2009)". Paste Magazine. November 26, 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Ohio couple share in the fun as Mental Floss magazine executives"
  8. ^ The News Herald "Folks behind mental_floss open retail store in Chester Township"
  9. ^ mental_floss About page
  10. ^ See Mental Floss Volume 5, issue 6, page 8.
  11. ^ "The NMR Top 100 YouTube Channels: 75-51!". New Media Rockstars. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  12. ^ What is mental_floss?
  13. ^ See Mental Floss volume 4, issue 3.
  14. ^ "Making knowledge fun: a look inside the pages of Mental Floss magazine". Trivia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  15. ^ Press Room
  16. ^ Chicago Tribune "Our 50 Favorite Magazines"
  17. ^ PC World "100 Blogs We Love"
  18. ^ Inc. Magazine "30 Under 30: America's Coolest Young Entrepreneurs"
  19. ^ Digiday "Our 50 Favorite Magazines"
  20. ^ "The 140 Best Twitter Feeds Of 2013". Time. 25 March 2013. 
  21. ^ "Blog – Cultural". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  22. ^ "National Magazine Awards 2013 Finalists Announced". Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  23. ^ Casserly, Meghan. "Mental Floss – In Photos: The 100 Best Websites For Women 2013". Forbes. 

External links[edit]