At the time of its release, the Rubik’s Cube was the most popular toy in the world. It received multiple awards due to its popularity including back-to-back Toy of the Year awards in 1980 and 1981. However, the cube's popularity fell off following the initial few years of excitement and entertainment, and although by the mid-1980s 1/5th of the globe had played with a cube, it wasn’t talked about very much throughout the late-80s and 90s. However, in the early 2000s, the puzzle made a resurgence when a new hobby surfaced: Speedcubing. Speedcubing sowed its roots at the 1982 World Championship in Budapest, but in 2003 it was a whole new world. More and more people were finding the old Rubik’s branded cube that everyone had somewhere around the house, googling a tutorial and getting hooked.
As the popularity of speedcubing increased so did the activity of the community. Because of the impact the Rubik’s Cube had when it was first released within culture, film and society in general, the Rubik’s Cube was held as an extreme display of intelligence and many stereotypes/common phrases were developed surrounding the puzzle. This has in turn led to a number of speedcubers complaining about the frequency they hear certain phrases from people that don’t understand the cube as well as they do. These are all collected in a giant thread on the largest speedsolving community in the world, the Speedsolving forums, in a thread titled “Non-Cubers say the Darndest Things!” (link here). Today we will take a look at some of the most popular phrases that speedcubers hear every day.
“I used to peel the stickers off and put them back on solved”.
This is one of the most common phrases heard by people who can solve the Rubik’s Cube. Despite having no clear origin, back when the Rubik’s Cube was released people looked for ways to “cheat” it, and due to the design of the puzzle it was very difficult to disassemble without breaking. So, other solutions were derived, such as peeling off the stickers and replacing them in the solved state. Another similar example of gaming the puzzle was shared as a viral photo of a Rubik’s Cube that has been painted to appear solved, along with the caption: “There are solutions to even the hardest of problems”.
Shortly after the original Rubik’s Cube was released, Uwe Meffert patented his Pyraminx puzzle and released it after seeing the popularity of its predecessor. The puzzle had been invented before the original Rubik’s Cube, but was simply left untouched until the cubes unrivalled success. The Pyraminx is a regular tetrahedron, but many people seem to forget its actual name. It has been referred to on a number of occasions as the “Rubik’s Triangle” or “Rubik’s Pyramid”, mistaking the puzzle for a Rubik’s creation.
“If I mix/jumble/muddle this up can you solve it?”
A common misconception in the general public is that the scrambled state of a Rubik’s Cube determines the ability of speedsolvers to solve it. Most people are sceptical of the fact that speedsolvers do their own scrambles and then solve the puzzle, and insist on being the ones to scramble the cube to verify the ability of a speedsolver. This often leads to uncommon choices of vocabulary to describe the scrambling process of the cube. This ensures hilarity for the speedsolver in question as such vocabulary is rather amusing.
“Do you use Vaseline/WD-40 to make that thing turn fast?”
During conversation about speedcubing, it is often noted that speedcubers use different kinds of puzzles and not standard Rubik’s branded or cheap puzzles, but rather puzzles designed for speed. The topic of cube lubrication to make the puzzle turn smoother is often brought up too, due to the soft feeling of turning in speedcubes, so these two types of general-purpose lubricants are mentioned when non-cubers ask about the puzzle.
“I knew someone who could solve it in 2 seconds”
This remark is less frequent than the rest, but it still happens regularly enough for several solvers to mention it in the thread. Due to the impression that the Rubik’s Cube can only be solved by those with extreme intelligence, it could be argued that mentioning someone else who can solve the puzzle faster is a way of undermining the ability of the speedsolver.