Sep 07

What Color is Chartreuse, Anyway? My Take on the Mandela Effect

Just the other day, I wrote a post on aloe vera, in which I mentioned that my “green thumb” was probably more like a chartreuse color. What I didn’t say is I had to check to be sure “chartreuse” was a yellowish-green, rather than a fuschia-ish pink.

After doing some inquiring, it seems I’m not the only one who finds this color confusing. Everyone I asked thought it fell somewhere in the pink-red-purple-brown range, with most answers tending toward pink.


Chartreuse…or Chartreuse??

This tells me one thing: I’m not alone. It doesn’t tell me why so many of us remember this color wrong–but something else might.

Ever heard of the Mandela Effect? I hadn’t either, until the younger of my sons mentioned it.

Apparently, the Mandela Effect (according to, is a “collective misremembering of a fact or event.” Although some people believe the Mandela Effect represents evidence of the existence of parallel universes (i.e. we’re communally remembering things wrong, because that’s how they actually are in a parallel universe), I have to go with Snopes on this one: it’s probably just a common memory glitch.

The term, “Mandela Effect” is attributed to Fiona Broome, who claims she encountered the phenomenon when she discovered she had a false memory in common with others, namely that human rights activist and South African president, Nelson Mandela, had died in the 1980s. (He didn’t pass away until 2013.) I don’t share this same erroneous memory, but it seems many others do.

Maybe it relates to the fact that Mandela was imprisoned during the eighties and received worldwide support? He was released in 1990 and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize and other accolades, but …whatevs, people who already had him resting in peace.

Nelson_Mandela-2008_(edit)South Africa The Good News / [CC BY 2.0
(], via Wikimedia Commons

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)


There are still other examples of the Mandela Effect.

Snopes also mentioned the popular children’s books and animated television series, The Berenstain Bears. Apparently, many of us (myself included) remember the name as being, The Berenstein Bears. Nope, not “-ein” then or now.

Another example? Snopes describes a portrait of Henry VIII, in which he’s reportedly dining at a table with a turkey leg in one hand. The problem is, the portrait doesn’t exist.

But I know I’ve seen it. You’re with me on this, right?


Portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/1498-1543) via Wikimedia Commons

Which begs for another share:

Yeah, really sorry about that earworm…

Yet other instances of the Mandela Effect involve the premature passing of various famous individuals. One of the most widespread of these is Billy Graham–plenty of people believe they saw his funeral on TV. Don’t know what they were watching, but as of today, the man’s still alive. Also, lots of folks believed Mother Teresa had been canonized in the 1990s, when we’re probably all aware she has just attained sainthood.

This next link doesn’t quite fall under the heading of the Mandela Effect, but it’s close enough. I found it while researching this blog and enjoyed the watch. Freaked me out a bit, too. 😉

Why are we changing maps? (From The West Wing)

So, what’s the probable explanation for the Mandela Effect?

Memories are fallible. They are constructed by our minds, through a blending of real-life experience and pure fiction. Recently, I heard someone (maybe on the radio?) say that each time we remember something, we are actually remembering the last time we experienced the memory. A slightly dizzying concept (I envision mirror rooms in funhouses–a reflection of a reflection of a…), yet it could explain why our memories lead us astray so much of the time.

So, if you’re feeling frustrated by someone remembering a shared experience differently? Turns out, in the grand scheme of things, their memory may be just as legitimate as yours. And the next time someone insists chartreuse is a pinkish color instead of a yellowy-green one? Just smile and shrug. Maybe in some parallel universe, it is. 🙂


1 ping

  1. […] of plants long gone, have I mentioned my thumb is only chartreuse? No worry, spider plants to the rescue. You see, my spider plants help me by serving as the voice […]

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