The truth behind all the disgusting urban legends you heard at school

Yes, boys at private school did used to play ‘soggy biscuit’


I’m not easily shocked, but I was scrolling through Twitter the other day when I saw something truly shocking.

It was a string of tweets in which a user called Jacqueline recounted “the CRAZIEST, real life, true story” she’d recently heard. Essentially, a friend of Jacqueline’s catches a sexually-transmitted rash from a Tinder date – but when she asks a doctor about the rash, he says you can only catch it from someone who has sex with dead people.

Now I wasn’t shocked by the story itself, disgusting as it is. I was shocked because I’d heard the story before, about a friend of a friend’s friend’s ex-boyfriend, back when I was at school. Some of the gruesome details were different – Tinder wasn’t a thing back then, after all – but the crux of the story was the same.

So had Jacqueline just made the story up? Was there any truth behind it whatsoever? Or was this simply a mad urban legend which had spread like a corpse rash into the zeitgeist until everyone’s friend’s friend had experienced something similar.

I decided to look into this, and others, to see if there’s any truth at all behind the outlandish tales we’d all tell each other to pass time in the playground. Full disclosure – some of them are absolutely rancid.

The one about private school boys playing ‘soggy biscuit’

Let us turn to Wikipedia, which describes the soggy biscuit game in these terms: “Soggy biscuit (also known as ookie cookie, limp biscuit, wet biscuit, shoot the cookie, or cum on a cookie) is a male masturbation game reportedly played in schools, primarily British, where the participants stand around a biscuit masturbating until ejaculating onto it; the last person to do so must eat the biscuit.”

As the Wikipedia description suggests, the soggy biscuit legend is most often associated with British private school culture – although the most documented evidence I can find of it is in America.

In Jane Ward’s book “Not Gay,” she says the soggy biscuit phenomenon is common in college “hazing” rituals, where “the hetero-masculine peer pressure is presumably too great to resist.”

She says: “Internet commentary about the game suggests a consensus among straight boys and men that the soggy biscuit is ‘disgusting.’ Nonetheless, the boys feel compelled to participate.”

Could it happen?

Yes. In 2011, two basketball players were expelled and seven more suspended from Andover High School for pressuring younger team members to eat Oreos covered in semen. So yes, it does happen.

Did it happen?

Or, more accurately, did it happen at the private school your mate’s mate went to, as you’ve been told? I opted to ask a friend who attended one of the country’s most elite private schools, who tells me that it’s “not not true.”

His explanation? “It’s just a stupid thing you do. Put 50 boys together in a house for four years and these things happen.”

The one about necrophilia

The stories which spread like wildfire at secondary schools are inherently disgusting – and Jacqueline’s tale of second-hand necrophilia is no different. When I tried to reach out to Jacqueline on Twitter to find out who she’d heard the story from I was ignored, but it appeared other users on the site had already called her out.

Despite hundreds having been told some variation of the story, no-one seemed to know where it came from. Step in fact-checking website Snopes, who first published a detailed takedown of the legend in 2001.

They said: “Every society has its taboos, and engaging in sexual acts with the dead is one of our big ones. It seems only fitting that disgusting acts should carry their own penalty… The notion of such contacts leaving the deviant’s genitals crawling with maggots satisfies our urge to see justice in kind.”

Could it happen?

Seeking medical expertise, I turned to Dr Marc Batista MBChB MRCGP to see how much truth there is behind the story. Unsurprisingly, not a lot.

​”Specific rashes just confined to dead people do not exist,” Doctor Marc says. “You could get a rash from a dead person but you could get this same rash from an alive person as well – it’s not alive/dead specific.”

Did it happen?

Dr Seth Rankin, founder of the London Doctors Clinic, agrees that it’s unlikely.

He says: “It’s fair to say there are various stories on the internet – I won’t go into the gory detail, but the reader certainly can. Many stories relate to “worm” infections transferred from the dead body to the living necrophilia and then passed onto an unsuspecting stranger.

“Could this happen? I think it’s very unlikely. There’s no such thing as a “corpse worm” which could insert itself inside the penis. Yes, dead people do get infested with maggots (although not in mortuaries), but if one of these tried to pop inside you – you’d know about it.”

So, in short, no.

The one about private school girls and their toothbrushes

Just as boys’ school boys get berated for wanking over biscuits, girls’ school girls all tend to be tarred with the same perverted brush: in an environment devoid of males, it was said they were forced to rely on their electric toothbrushes for satisfaction.

Interestingly, the rumour always seems to be about the other girls’ school in town – at least that’s what Daisy and Bella, two ex-girls’ school colleagues, tell me.

“Apparently they banned electric toothbrushes at the girls’ school down the road,” they say. “It was either that, or they got rid of round doorknobs in the bathrooms because the girls were apparently rubbing up against them.”

Could it happen?

Yep – masturbation with an electric toothbrush is nothing new. Jezebel recommend it, and plenty of sex toy outlets sell specialised toothbrush heads to make the whole experience more pleasurable.

As for the doorknob thing? Well, it’s less common, but at least one Yahoo Answers respondent swears by it.

Did it happen?

Despite a number of anonymous Reddit threads and guffawing tweets about the phenomenon, there’s no record of any school actually prohibiting electric toothbrushes. That’s not to say a few might have enforced a quiet, unofficial ban.

The one about there being semen in fast food

There are several variations of this story, most involving staff members at high-street eateries relieving themselves into milkshakes, soft-serve ice cream machines and anything else with a suitably creamy texture.

The most famous one tends to involve a girl eating a deliciously moist burger, only to contract oral thrush from a surprise left in the mayonnaise by a sexually-frustrated fast food worker.

Could it happen?

According to Doctor Marc, it’s not the most ridiculous of the legends. He says: “Technically you could transmit infections in this way. However you could not call them sexually-transmitted as it’s not through sexual contact.

“HIV, chlamydia and thrush could all technically be carried over in the ejaculate – but it’s very unlikely.”

Did it happen?

Doesn’t look like it. Despite there being no evidence whatsoever, the rumour is so prolific that several fast food restaurants have been forced to deny it: in 2014, a McDonald’s spokesperson curtly told Buzzfeed: “We have no record of any such claim at McDonald’s.”

The one where the weed turns out to be oregano

Often used as a cautionary tale, you were probably warned once or twice about those idiots who spent all their pocket money on marijuana, only to find out (usually in a humiliating way) that they’d actually been puffing on some premium Italian herb.

Could it happen?

Well, judging by the sheer amount of forum users asking fellow stoners if they’ve been duped, one thing seems pretty clear: actual drug users do pass off oregano as weed, and actual drug takers do fall for it.

“Asking for a mate.” Sure you are.

Did it happen?

My housemate Roisin tells the following story: “It happened to my ex-boyfriend in a Belfast branch of Burger King. I was 13 and he was 14, and everyone used to take the piss out of him.

“He tried to buy some weed to look cool, but when he opened it up it was just kitchen spices. Everyone laughed at him. It was quite sad, actually.”

Another friend recounts a similar tale: “A guy in my year had gone to Camden at the weekend and bought a pound of weed for a tenner. Five or six people went back behind the history block and smoked all of it and got really high.

“Somehow they got caught and were all suspended with immediate effect. After a week the school held an assembly in which they told us the substance has been tested and found out to be oregano. They came back to school and got so much shit for it.”

So, in a word, yes.

The one about the kid who turned orange from too much Sunny D

This is another one that never really went away, meaning you were probably inordinately afraid of drinking more than a single glass. So is there any truth in it, or was poor Sunny Delight merely made a scapegoat of by sugar-hating mums across the country?

Well, a bit of both. VICE did an investigation which basically proved and disproved the theory in turn. An excess consumption of beta-carotene, found in Sunny Delight, could change your skin pigment slightly – but it’s nothing that can’t easily be reversed.

Could it happen?

Doctor Seth says it could: “Beta Carotene can colour the skin yellow or orange in large quantities. Every 100ml of Sunny Delight contains a small quantity – 120 micrograms – of beta carotene, about 15 per cent of the recommended daily intake for an adult.

“A child’s body would not be able to cope with beta carotene levels in 1.5 litres of the drink as it’s more than twice the daily recommended intake for adults. It’s fair to say that Beta Carotene is good for the body because when ingested it is converted to vitamin A which keeps skin, hair and nails healthy.

“Apart from the high sugar content, Sunny D is good for you – in small doses.”

Did it happen?

There was a boy who turned a bit orange from eating lots of carrots, sure, and a girl who did indeed gain a yellowish tinge from drinking too much Sunny D.

Still, the results were probably not as Roald Dahl-esque as you expected – and they quickly returned to their normal colour once they’d kicked the yellow stuff.

The one about the unfortunate dog

It’s a romantic tale as old as time: guy and girl decide to take their relationship to the next level on the sofa, but anal sex isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and they end up making a bit of a mess.

What do they do? Blame the poor dog, who gets put down for his supposed incontinence.

Could it happen?

There’s no doubt that a loss of bowel control is a risk during anal sex, and that human feces could, in some situations, be mistaken for dog feces. But would you have an incontinent dog put down?

A number of first-person accounts suggest it’s not unheard of, but only in cases where the dog itself is old and this happens on more than one occasion. So chances are, no, a dog didn’t die because someone got poo on the upholstery.

Did it happen?

Not likely, unless the dog was really old and sort of had it coming anyway.

The one about Marilyn Manson having two ribs removed so he could suck himself off

It just sort of made sense, didn’t it? You knew Marilyn Manson was an eccentric, and you were probably a sweaty little teenager obsessed with blowjobs – you were just putting two and two together.

But the “Marilyn Manson had his ribs removed” rumour is just that – a rumour, and one which has been spread many times, for many generations. Before Marilyn Manson it was Steven Tyler, and before him it was Prince. As far as we know, none of them are true.

Could it happen?

Unsurprisingly, there hasn’t been a lot of research in the field. Doctor Seth says: “Even with two ribs removed, it would be incredibly difficult to give yourself a blowjob. Few men possess sufficient flexibility and penis length to perform the necessary body bend, unless you’re a tantric sex God like Sting.

“Gymnastics training, contortion or yoga, could help increase your flexibility and therefore make it more possible to pleasure yourself. It’s not something I would recommend to patients unless there was a strong medical reason for it, so find a partner and enjoy the act together.”

Did it happen?

Dr Ross Perry, NHS GP and Director of Cosmedics, agrees it’s probably not true: “The vertebra in spine are still creating a distance, which makes it difficult. Those who can often have a genetic condition that allows their joints and ligaments to overly stretch.”

So unless Marilyn Manson, Prince and the lead singer of Aerosmith are all part of some kind of secret hyperflexible popstar autofellatio club, the likelihood is it’s bullshit.

The one about the kid who killed himself by sticking two pencils up his nose and banging his head on his desk

It’s the go-to for beleaguered kids during exam season – stressed kid in exam decides it’s all too much for him, so in a final act of desperation shoves two pencils up his nose and slams his face onto his death. Instant death for him; instant A*s for everyone else.

Back to Snopes, where I stumbled upon a headline which looked like it might hold my answer: “Pencil Death.”

Surprise surprise: it’s a myth.

Could it happen?

Doctor Marc says it’s possible: “You could pierce the brain through the nostril holes in the skull. You would most likely hit the brain stem.”

Doctor Seth concurs: “Driving pencils into your brain via your nose – which is not as hard as you would think – could kill you.

“People die after receiving a single punch to the head. With this in mind, if you were to smash your head on your desk with or without pencils it would have the potential to kill you. My advice is don’t try either method.”

Did it happen?

Simply put, no. There’s no record of any such suicide ever taking place. Doctor Seth explains: “There is no doubt that students are affected by exam stress and stories about student suicide and depression are rife.

“The ‘two pencil’ suicide method, though, isn’t that popular – and very few examples exist of this ever happening – although there is one case of an individual who shoved a ball point pen up his nose and into his brain – thankfully he made a full recovery.”

The one about the Starburst (or jelly babies, or gummy bears)

This is arguably the most oft-repeated urban myth from your school years, and it’s arguably the most absolutely all-out vile one there is. Before you go ahead, you’ve been warned.

It goes something like this: a guy and a girl are spicing things up in the bedroom, so she decides to take some sweets and puts them up her vagina. The guy goes down on her, fishing out and eating five sweets. Problem is, she only put four up there.

The possibilities are the stuff of nightmares – and every STI under the sun has been insinuated as the culprit. Interestingly, the sweets used in the story seem to change depending on where you grew up: in Northern Ireland it was Fruit Pastilles; in the Midlands and the North it was Starburst. My Hertfordshire upbringing had me believing it was Jelly Babies.

Could it happen?

According to Doctor Marc, it’s almost impossible: “​First off, warts don’t look or taste like jelly babies or Starburst. They tend to be external not internal so it would be unlikely that anything extra would just appear.

“With warts, growths etc, a person would not have enough force in their mouth to suck one off. But technically you could bite one off – if you really wanted to. They would usually be medically removed or reduced with a cream.”

Doctor Ross agrees it’s unlikely: “The chances of chewing down on a wart during a cunnilingis session with your partner are incredibly unlikely.  They can only fall off if they are frozen with a special chemical at a sexual health clinic.”

Did it happen?

Doctor Seth, however, has another theory: “It could possibly be either the fleshy remnants of her hymen that he could have mistaken, which is completely normal part of the anatomy, or another lesion.”

So… it could have actually happened?

Oh God.