20 Times People Asked “What Is This Thing?” And The Internet Delivered

The internet is a treasure trove of knowledge and expertise, where mysteries often find their solutions. The r/WhatIsThisThing subreddit showcases the collective wisdom of the online community, where curious individuals post pictures of unknown items, only to have them identified by others.

From vintage gadgets to strange-looking glass items found at the bottom of a lake, this compilation is a testament to the fact that no matter how obscure or puzzling something might seem, there’s always someone out there who knows exactly what it is.

It’s a delightful journey through the weird, extraordinary, and sometimes baffling objects that pop up in our lives, proving that the internet can be a place of learning and discovery.

Here are the most interesting pics from ‘What Is This Thing?’ for November 29, 2023:


My mother says this cast iron thing is for pouring oil, but my grandmother says she’s wrong and can’t remember what it’s for. Help?

Answer: It looks sort of similar to the type of thing used to melt down lead to cast new bullets.


“What is this pair of scissors I bought years ago on flee market?”

Answer: It’s a vintage umbilical clamp. That’s why it’s shaped like a stork! Eventually this style did evolve into several types of embroidery scissors that the midwives would use while awaiting labor.


“What is this pile of pink and yellow 1/2-inch strips.”

Answer: Dog food Purina Moist and Meaty Burger With Cheddar Cheese Flavor Dry Soft Dog Food Pouches.


“What are these compartments for on this bottle opener?”

Answer: I believe they’re extra bottle caps so you can recap your drink.


“Had this when I was younger, small cylinder tightly wrapped tissue paper all different lengths and color.”

Answer: Paperoni! There was a plastic machine that cut different lengths, and you stick them together to make things.


“Red waxy substance found in/around the keyhole of the lock on my front door.”

Answer: Turns out it was a family member’s lipstick that got on the key while it was in their purse.


“Found in my dad’s room, really hoping it’s not what I think.”

Answer: It goes over shoes to give grip on ice.


“It resembles a finger, but clearly it isn’t. I thought it may be archeological fecal matter but comparing it to pictures makes me rethink that.”

Answer: It’s a fossilized coral.


“Metal shards inside the shower head of the place I’m renting? What are these and why are they in there?”

Answer: Surely they are solder from copper plumbing. If you overheat the pipes while soldering, long strands like this can form on the inside. Definitely a sign of improper soldering, if that’s what they are.


“Weird purple plastic object with a suction cup on the bottoms.”

Answer: It’s a massager.


“My many-year-old rain jacket has a smooth, somewhat flexible, seemingly plastic object sewn into the upper arm of the right sleeve only. What is it?”

Answer: Radar reflector for avalanche rescue purposes.


“I found 25 of these things individually wrapped in men’s briefs and socks.”

Answer: They are fire hose caps.


“Double-bowl sink with a hole connecting them, tap does not reach the second bowl. All three sinks in this bathroom in a public space had one of these. What is it used for?”

Answer: It is for schools, you can put a sponge there.


“Found a several glass tubes filled with some brown gas in a school science lab.”

Answer: Very carefully put them down. Most likely, these contain Bromine. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but you sure don’t want a lung full of it if you break the glass tube.


“Green, translucent substance found on the beach, looks like glass but has gel or jello-like consistency.”

Answer: It might be sodium polyacrylate. It’s the stuff commonly used nowadays in diapers to absorb moisture. It starts out more solid and turns into a jelly texture after being exposed to water.


“Pottery found at the thrift store. Artist doesn’t have social media. It has metal hooks inside.”

Answer: Something to dip their brushes into and then squeeze out the excess water between the wires.


“Found this thrown at the bottom of a lake in Stockholm. It was overgrown with algae on the outside. Nothing grows on the inside, so the liquid is not water. No markings.”

Answer: Oh, it’s a storm glass.


“I bought this dish in a thrift store, thinking it might be good for tacos. It wasn’t ideal. What’s it’s actual purpose?”

Answer: Looks like a toast rack to me.


“This slide-looking thing on the playground. It’s raised in the middle, and clearly not a slide.”

Answer: From what I understand, newer playgrounds have these things to encourage free play, it’s not a set thing like a slide or ladder. It’s just a shape that encourages movement and interaction.


“These small recesses found all over our house.”

Answer: There used to be open flame burners that connected to gas as a heat source in the early 1900s before forced air, and sometimes they would be set into the wall like this.


Nate Armbruster

Nate Armbruster is a stand-up comedian and writer based in Chicago who is likely writing a joke as you read this. Find him online at natecomedy.com.