|Type of business||Private|
|Dissolved||November/December 2016 (print)|
|Headquarters||New York City, New York, U.S.
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
|Key people||Will Pearson, Mangesh Hattikudur, John Green|
|Industry||Digital and Print Media|
|Users||150 million +|
Mental Floss (stylized mental_floss) is an American digital, print, and e-commerce media company focused on millennials. It is owned by Dennis Publishing and based in New York City. mentalfloss.com, which presents facts, puzzles, and trivia with a humorous tone, draws 20.5 million unique users a month. Its YouTube channel produces three weekly series and has 1.3 million subscribers. The magazine mental_floss has a circulation of 160,000 and publishes six issues a year. In October 2015, Mental Floss teamed with the National Geographic Channel for its first televised special, Brain Surgery Live with mental_floss, the first brain surgery ever broadcast live.
Launched in Birmingham, Alabama in 2001, the company has additional offices in Midtown Manhattan. The magazine has more than 100,000 subscribers in over 17 countries. The publication also has been included in Inc. magazine's list of the 5,000 fastest growing private companies.
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 Mental Floss in 2011. The November/December 2016 issue was the last issue of the print edition of the magazine, which became a web-only publication in 2017. Instead of getting a refund, subscribers were sent copies of The Week.
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. 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."
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.
- 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. In 2015, Green won the Webby Award for mental_floss on YouTube.
- Author A.J. Jacobs contributed articles based on what he learned reading the Encyclopædia Britannica, as described in his book The Know-It-All. He currently writes a history column answering reader mail.
- Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy! fame, wrote a feature called Six Degrees of Ken Jennings, in which he played the game six degrees of separation with two unrelated people or things, like Benedict XVI and Benedict Arnold or Isaac Newton and Apple Computer. He now contributes a quiz called “Kennections” on mentalfloss.com.
- Kara Kovalchik and Sandy Wood served as research editors for the magazine from 2002-2014. Kara continues to contribute to mentalfloss.com with the 5 Questions Quiz which has appeared each weekday since 2002.
- Celebrity chef Alton Brown wrote a food column and appeared on the cover of the September 2012 issue.
- Saturday Night Live writer Streeter Seidell has written for both mental_floss magazine and the website.
- Comedian Amir Blumenfeld writes a column called “The Curious Comedian."
- Author Ransom Riggs was a longtime contributor to both the magazine and website.
- Linguist Arika Okrent is the language editor for mental_floss. In 2015 she received the Linguistic Society of America's Linguistics Journalism Award.
- Science journalist Maggie Koerth-Baker was an assistant editor and co-authored the 2009 mental_floss book Be Amazing.
- Hank Green has written for the magazine and is executive producer of the YouTube Channel. He also authored the mental_floss book Scatterbrained.
- Comedian Elliott Morgan hosts the weekly series “Misconceptions” on mental_floss on YouTube.
- Comedian Max Silvestri has hosted two series on the mental_floss YouTube Channel.
- Craig Benzine hosts the weekly series “The Big Question” on mental_floss on YouTube.
Each issue of Mental Floss magazine was 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: articles about "left brain" topics, like science and logic, and "right brain" topics, like art and literature.
- Features: Some examples were an exposé of Shel Silverstein's darker side and a collection of the 25 Most Important Questions in the Universe.
- Go Mental: articles about religion, art, history and world culture.
- The Quiz: a brief quiz at the back of the magazine.
Every year, Mental Floss published a "Ten Issue." It usually featured lists of ten things focusing on subjects like: "Ten Most Forgettable Presidents," or "Ten Famous Monkeys in Science."
Recurring blog categories
- Morning Cup of Links: Interesting links to news stories, videos and memes from across the Internet
- 5 Questions Quiz: Daily quizzes with subject clues hidden inside trivia questions
- 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
- What's the Difference?
- Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets
- Condensed Knowledge
- Forbidden Knowledge
- Instant Knowledge
- In the Beginning
- Be Amazing
- mental_floss Trivia
- 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
Mental Floss has been covered by magazines and newspapers such as Reader's Digest, Los Angeles Times, CNN.com, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, Dallas Morning News, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Washington Post. Other media coverage includes:
- Listed as one of the Chicago Tribune 's 50 favorite magazines in June 2007
- Listed as one of PC World 's 100 favorite blogs in June 2007
- Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur among Inc. magazine's 30 "coolest young entrepreneurs
- Listed as the seventh most engaged company on Twitter by Digiday
- Recognized by TIME for having one of the top 140 Twitter feeds in 2013.
- Won a Webby Award for "Best Cultural Blog" in May, 2013.
- Finalist for "General Excellence" at the National Magazine Awards in 2013.
- Voted one of the "100 Best Websites for Women" by Forbes in 2013.
- "Gone Native: The Magazine Whose Editors Write Ad Content – Digiday". Digiday. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- "We're Hiring Writers, Editors, and a Producer". Mental Floss. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- "Brain Surgery Live with Mental Floss". National Geographic. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
- "Gone Native: The Magazine Whose Editors Write Ad Content". Digiday. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
- "Quantcast - Mental Floss". Quantcast. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
- "4 Ways Mental Floss Won Millennials". Digiday. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
- Press Release describing magazine launch
- "The 20 Best Magazines of the Decade (2000–2009)". Paste Magazine. November 26, 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- Cleveland.com "Ohio couple share in the fun as Mental Floss magazine executives"
- The News Herald "Folks behind mental_floss open retail store in Chester Township"
- D.B. Hebbard (30 September 2016). "Mental Floss latest to go digital-only, Dennis Publishing announces". Talking New Media. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- Mental Floss to end print edition, Politico, September 30, 2016
- mental_floss About page
- See Mental Floss Volume 5, issue 6, page 8.
- "The NMR Top 100 YouTube Channels: 75-51!". New Media Rockstars. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
- "Mental Floss' John Green". Webby Awards. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
- "Ken Jennings - Dabbling". Ken Jennings. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- "Arika Okrent announced as winner of LSA Linguistics Journalism Award". Linguistic Society. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- "Watch Max Silvestri Learn to Open Champagne with a Sword". Splitsider. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- "Wheezy Waiter Answers Questions In New Series On Mental Floss Channel". IMDb. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- What is mental_floss?
- See Mental Floss volume 4, issue 3.
- "Making knowledge fun: a look inside the pages of Mental Floss magazine". Trivia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
- MentalFloss.com Press Room
- Chicago Tribune "Our 50 Favorite Magazines"
- PC World "100 Blogs We Love"
- Inc. Magazine "30 Under 30: America's Coolest Young Entrepreneurs"
- Digiday "Our 50 Favorite Magazines"
- "The 140 Best Twitter Feeds Of 2013". Time. 25 March 2013.
- "Blog – Cultural". webbyawards.com. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- "National Magazine Awards 2013 Finalists Announced". magazine.org. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- Casserly, Meghan. "Mental Floss – In Photos: The 100 Best Websites For Women 2013". Forbes.