#3. The Farmer's Almanac Weather Formula
What is it?
The Farmer's Almanac has interesting facts, stories, light humor, charming woodcuts and much, much more. Hell, we don't need to tell you. You probably own several copies already.
This is great and all, but other almanacs have that stuff, also. How can Farmer's keep its edge over classics like Poor Richard's? By being the best at what farmers care about: predicting the weather.
Just look at that farmer. He is fucking all about the weather.
This super-special formula was devised in 1792, by the Almanac's founder Robert B. Thomas. A "top secret mathematical and astronomical formula, which relies on sunspot activity, tidal action, planetary position and many other factors," to do what science believes impossible: predict long term patterns in weather. This in turn helps farmers, you know, farm.
Farmer's Almanac editor Sandi Duncan and an anonymous meteorologist.
They call him The Mysteriologist!
How it is Kept Secret:
The formula is kept locked in a black box somewhere in the Almanac's headquarters in New Hampshire. In this video, Duncan shows how the box can withstand almost any attempt to open it.
As crazy as it seems, they keep it secret for good reason. The average seven to 14 day weather report, using up to the minute information and state of the art Doppler radar systems, is often no more accurate than what you, the Cracked reader, could predict.
This 200-year-old formula has an 80 percent accuracy rate even though predictions are made 2 YEARS IN ADVANCE. How do we know that? The Almanac told us. How do we know they're right? We just told you. They're accurate 80 percent of the time.
#2. The Subject of "You're So Vain"
What is it:
As we pointed out previously, Carly Simon's "You're so Vain" is one hell of a revenge song.
The list of people it is rumored to be about is at least a dozen men long, including such luminaries as James Taylor, Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson and Warren Beatty. Whoever the guy is, he did Carly Simon bad, and worse for him it's now considered the 72nd best song of all time.
To put that in perspective, "Billie Jean" is #71.
All we know for sure is 1) Simon is never going to tell us who it's about and 2) we're real assholes if we think it's about us. Which it totally is. Bitch.
Carly Simon and Dick Ebersol.
How it is Kept Secret:
Despite being asked in virtually every interview she has ever given, Simon has never admitted who the song is about. In 2003, an auction was held on Martha's Vineyard where one of the lots was the chance to know just who "You're so Vain" was referring to. Dick Ebersol, president of NBC won with a bid of $50,000. To be fair, he's loaded, it was for a good cause and he was also given a private performance by Simon.
The stipulation to Ebersol's winning bid was that he had to sign an agreement promising that he would never reveal the identity of the person to anyone, ensuring that no one who doesn't have $50,000 to spend on the answer to a trivia question will even know the truth.
He was, however, allowed to give the least useful clue of all time: The person's name had the letter E in it. Thanks, Dick.
#1. How Do Sea Monkeys Work?
What is it?
If you ever saw the back pages of a comic book growing up, you know what Sea Monkeys are. For generations kids around the world have experienced the profound disappointment of ordering Sea Monkeys, dumping the dried powder into water and watching the tiny things squiggle around, doing nothing interesting.
They still sell what you, as a jaded adult, now know are nothing more than freeze dried brine shrimp.
Harlod von Braunhut developed the process in 1957. The solution the eggs are soaked allows the small, sperm-like animals to survive the shipping process, come to life within minutes and stay alive long enough to not entertain a child.
It may seem a bit ridiculous, but compared to some of his other inventions this was Nobel Prize winning science. Braunhut held 193 patents for such gems as X-Ray Spex (that didn't see through anything) and invisible goldfish (guaranteed to remain invisible, which is good, because we'd be pissed off if we found out we'd paid money for a temporarily invisible animal instead of, you know, NOTHING).
Oh fuck, please turn invisible again.
Braunhut continued to tinker with the formula for his entire life, trying to get sea monkeys that would grow larger and live longer. Even at the age of 75, Harold was still involved in the day to day running of his company.
Until his death in 2003, only Harlod von Braunhut and his wife, Yolanda.
How They Keep it Secret:
No matter how many times he changed the formula to Sea Monkeys, or how huge the operation grew (to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year) Braunhut never told anyone but his second wife about it.
Not even his most trusted associates at his company were told, no matter how many times they asked. Harold was very, very good at keeping secrets.
This might have something to do with the fact that he might have been a Nazi.
We don't mean that in a metaphorical sense. There is strong evidence that money from many of his inventions was funneled directly to the Aryan Nation. Braunhut, who was ethnically Jewish, wrote for their newsletter, was keynote speaker at their rallies and even lit a burning cross.
We're not saying the Sea Monkeys were a result of a failed experiment to breed aquatic Nazi super soldiers. But we're not saying they weren't, either.
Have an idea for an article? Think you're funny? Just go here and sign up. No experience necessary.
For more stuff people would like the answers to, check out 6 Insane Discoveries That Science Can't Explain. Or learn how to keep your lips sealed, in MI-6 to CIA: 5 Top Secret Agencies (Who Want to Hire You).
And discover the secret (that editors Jack and David only know the answer to) about who crapped in the office urinal, in our Top Picks.