Wild Things We Were Surprised To Learn About Big Companies In 2021

List Rules
Vote up the most surprising stories about big companies.

On a normal day, we don't usually think about large companies. We go about our business and concern ourselves with what is right in front of us - what affects our daily routine. We eat, travel to work, do our jobs, and come home and relax in our time off. But when we expand our view a little further, we realized large corporations are affecting most parts of our lives.

Companies decide how we search the internet; they can change the way we travel; they can even have a say in what we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. These are some of the wildest stories from 2021 that surprised us most about major companies.

  • Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish, LA, was once 10 feet deep and covered 1,300 acres. It had park space as well as oil wells dotting its surroundings. Below the lake was a salt mine. In 1980, Texaco was doing exploratory drilling at the lake's bottom, and the 14-inch drill bit got stuck. When it was finally removed, it created a sinkhole. The lake transformed into a whirlpool and swallowed the drilling platform, 11 barges, a tugboat, trees, and 65 acres of the surrounding land.

    With all that water drained into the sinkhole, the flow of the Delcambre Canal, which emptied the lake into Vermilion Bay, reversed and caused salt water from the Gulf of Mexico to flow into what was now a dry lake bed. The freshwater lake filled with salt water, subsequently changing the entire ecosystem. 

    Michael Dore was fishing with his brother when it happened.

    I seen this wave coming by and I told him, 'You'd better get out of here. The end of the world is coming' . . . but when I told him, we couldn't go anywhere. The wind was blowing, and everything seemed to go dry on the earth, and we were sitting on the mud.

    3,311 votes
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    3,106 VOTES

    Quaker Oats Fed Radioactive Oatmeal To Children

    During the 1940s and '50s, Quaker Oats took part in experiments with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and approved by the Atomic Energy Commission to feed radioactive oatmeal, milk, and calcium injections to unknowing boys from the Fernald State School. Originally called The Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded, it was home to mentally disabled children and those who had been abandoned by their parents.

    These were just a part of dozens of AEC experiments that ultimately exposed more than 210,000 unknowing civilians and military members to radiation. Quaker Oats took part to form its own research to counteract the advertised health benefits of its rival, Cream Of Wheat. The experiments were finally made public in 1993.

    3,106 votes
  • Two reporters for ABC News went undercover as retail job-seekers and were hired by Food Lion. During the short time they worked there, they documented and filmed incidents of employees bleaching expired meat, selling cheese that had been gnawed on by rats, and people working off the timeclock.

    Food Lion was rocked in 1992 when the network aired the expose. The company sued ABC, not for reporting false information, but for the undercover reporters lying on their applications and not disclosing they were reporters. Food Lion alleged the reporters committed fraud, breach of the duty of loyalty, trespass, and unfair trade practices under North Carolina law. A jury decided in Food Lion's favor and awarded the company $5.5 million. Upon appeal, the court rejected the fraud claim and reduced the damages awarded for breach of loyalty and trespass to $2.

    2,387 votes
  • In 1975, 24-year-old Eastman Kodak engineer Steven Sasson invented the first digital camera. However, Kodak executives did not see a future in digital photography, and it's easy to see why. The eight-pound camera took 23 seconds to record each 0.01-megapixel black-and-white photo to a cassette tape; the data from the tape was then read and displayed onto a standard TV screen.

    Kodak, which in later decades manufactured a variety of digital cameras, filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

    2,149 votes
  • United Flight 3411 was supposed to leave Chicago's O’Hare International Airport for Louisville, KY on April 9, 2017, when an incident occurred that would forever tarnish its reputation and relationship with passengers. The flight was full, but four United employees needed to be on the plane to work a connecting flight. United followed its usual protocol, first offering vouchers to anyone who would willingly give up their seat.

    When no one offered, the crew randomly selected four passengers, including Dr. David Dao Duy Anh, a physician who refused to leave the flight because he needed to be at the hospital the following day. United employees called airport security, who physically dragged the screaming Dao from his seat, hitting his face on the armrest, which resulted in a broken nose and teeth. 

    Traumatized passengers filmed the incident, which quickly went viral as people around the world reacted with horror to Dao's treatment. United's CEO Oscar Munoz initially blamed Dao for being belligerent and described the practice of "reaccommodating passengers" as normal, but Munoz quickly became more apologetic as public outcry grew.

    Munoz eventually testified about the incident before Congress, and United came to a settlement agreement with Dao, but the airline will forever be linked to the horrific video of officers dragging a screaming passenger from his rightful seat.

    3,896 votes
  • Yahoo was at one time the internet's most popular search engine. In 1998, Stanford University grad students Sergey Brin and Larry Page offered Yahoo a chance to license their innovative new search technology (which later became Google) for $1 million. Yahoo declined. In 2002, Yahoo offered to purchase Google for $3 billion, but Brin and Page asked for $5 billion. Yahoo refused.

    Google continued to skyrocket in success while Yahoo floundered. In 2008, Microsoft offered to buy Yahoo for $44.6 billion, which Yahoo refused. Yahoo sold to Verizon in 2018 for $4.48 billion. In January of 2020, Google was one of only three companies to be valued at more than $1 trillion.

    2,093 votes