The 10 Year Series: A Timeline of Mental Floss

In honor of Minute Media’s 10th Anniversary, we would like to take a look at the last ten years through the lens of our unique content brands, highlighting some of their key milestones throughout the last decade. This blog is dedicated to our first acquisition, Mental Floss.

1. Where It All Started

In 2001, Mental Floss was founded by Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur, two students at Duke University who wanted to create a magazine that was specifically geared towards curious people who wanted to learn more about the world. Mental Floss, however, was unlike anything that existed before, sharing facts and stories no one had heard, all through what’s known as their “Flossy” lense. The magazine (later an all-digital site) became a huge hit and is still one of the most well-known brands under Minute Media’s umbrella.

2. Appearing In Friends

In 2003, just two short years after the magazine officially launched, Mental Floss appeared on an episode of the highly popular sitcom Friends. The quirky, knowledge-filled pages fit well with the intelligent Monica Geller, who can be seen reading the magazine throughout the last few seasons. 

3. Joining Dennis Publishing

In 2011, Mental Floss was purchased by Dennis Publishing, the London-based publishing company founded by poet and philanthropist Felix Dennis. Dennis himself was a great supporter of the magazine and under his company, Mental Floss expanded into the digital world.

4. Launching Mental Floss YouTube

In 2013, Mental Floss launched its YouTube channel, creating another way for fans to engage with the unique content. This milestone made way for some of Mental Floss’ most popular shows such as The List Show, Misconceptions, Food History, Big Questions and more. 

Check out more here.

5. Winning Industry Recognition

Also in 2013, Mental Floss was awarded their first industry win, being named Webby's ‘Best Cultural Blog.’ Since then, the brand has won four Webby awards, including a 2020 People’s Choice Award in the Weird website category and being named finalists in the ASME awards, the Digiday Content Marketing awards, and more. 

6. Partnering With National Geographic

Another huge milestone for Mental Floss came in 2015 when they partnered with National Geographic to broadcast the first-ever live brain surgery. The two-hour event took viewers inside the operating room at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, to see a deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery performed live. The revolutionary broadcast not only garnered audience attention and served as an educational tool for the new medical procedure, but also positioned Mental Floss as a strong partner for all brands that look to educate as well as entertain.

You can read more about this partnership here.

7. Joining Minute Media

In 2018, Mental Floss joined Minute Media’s portfolio and became the company’s first of many strategic acquisitions. This decision enabled Minute Media to expand past the sports vertical and enter the more culture/entertainment-focused industry, while it also increased Mental Floss’ growth through the company’s technology and commercial resources.    

You can read more about the acquisition here.                            

8. Printing Magazines & Launching Podcasts

In 2019, Mental Floss hit two more major milestones through their print and audio endeavors.  Three years after Mental Floss transitioned to a digital-only publication, the brand decided to partner with the Paper & Packaging Company to release a special print issue of the magazine. The 90+ page special edition included uniquely “Flossy” editorial pieces, including Big Questions such as ‘How long should you dunk your Oreo?’ and ‘What does the ‘R’ in Mrs. stand for?’ as well as engaging quizzes and fascinating long reads. The magazine was a huge hit with the Mental Floss fan base, and was recognized as a Digiday finalist for the ‘Best Brand Publication’ award in 2020. 

That same year, Mental Floss created a brand-new podcast entitled History Vs., in partnership with iHeartRadio, that focused on Mental Floss Editor-in-Chief Erin McCarthy’s favorite historical figure, Theodore Roosevelt. The podcast was the brand’s first major venture into the audio world and proved how versatile Mental Floss’ unique approach to content could be.

9. Celebrating 20 Years

In 2021, Mental Floss commemorated its biggest milestone to date: Celebrating its 20th anniversary. Since its founding in 2001, Mental Floss has grown to reach over 1 billion readers with smart, quirky content that answers life’s big questions, uncovers fascinating facts, and finds stories so interesting that readers absolutely must share them. Over the past 20 years, Mental Floss has evolved from a print magazine to a digital property adding podcasts, books, a YouTube channel, calendars, board games, t-shirts and more to its unique offerings. Even prior to the global pandemic, the digital publishing and media industry was constantly changing, causing hardships for many businesses, but through it all Mental Floss has persevered. The brand’s decades-long success is a testament to how building a loyal fan base around quality content is the key to longevity and growth. 

10. Publishing The Curious… Book Series

In 2021, in addition to celebrating its 20th anniversary, Mental Floss also released two new books entitled The Curious Reader and The Curious Viewer. These new publications hit the stands in May and October of 2021, respectively, and provided readers with deep dives into their favorite books and authors and most binge-worthy TV shows. By going back to print, Mental Floss showed once again that its “Flossy” content can live nearly anywhere in any form.

Celebrating Minute Media’s 10th Anniversary


While Mental Floss may not have been a Minute Media brand for the full ten-year journey, their contributions to the growth of Minute Media cannot be overstated. Mental Floss has proven that great brands can withstand the test of time, and we are confident that there is no end in sight.