Penguin Group Australia reprinted 7000 cookbooks in 2010 due to an embarrassing typo that made many ask why it had ever been allowed on bookshelves in the first place. A recipe in The Pasta Bible called for “salt and freshly ground black people”, when it was supposed to, of course, read “black pepper”. The book was being reprinted, but the original edition was not recalled.
The lesson here: Spell-check is a dangerous tool and should only be handled by licensed professionals, and under adult supervision. Always.
But was this the worst typo in history? Probably not.
The Irish Times recently recounted a typo in a medical publication that almost made it to publication, referring to “John Smith, the rapist”, rather than John Smith, Therapist.”
In January 2009, The Guardian, had to explain to readers that the author Garrison Keillor, nor his book about Lake Woebegone, had nothing to do with rap, and was not really called “A Prairie Ho Companion.”
Also in 2009, an engraver made a misprint on the 50-peso coin in Chile. The engraver, Pedro Urzua Lizana, had mistakenly left out the bottom portion of the letter L on the 50-peso coin, turning “CHILE” into “CHIIE”. He lost his job for that, but not before 1.5 million of the coins were released for public circulation.
In 1962, a typo by a NASA programmer resulted in the Mariner 1 being sent into the ocean rather than its intended destination, Venus. The cause was a missed hyphen.
A typo in a Bible, published in London in 1631 caused not a small stir, with the omission of the word “not” in the Seventh Commandment: “Thou Shalt commit adultery.” The publisher was fined, and the book was henceforth known as “The Wicked Bible”.
The most costly typo in Canadian history would have to be a misplaced comma in a 14-page contract that cost Rogers Communications $2.13-million in 2006.
A typo in Readers’ Digest several years ago, on the women’s rights movement created the opposite result of what was intended when the letter “T” was typed instead of the letter “R”, resulting in the title: “Movers and Shakers in Women’s Tights”.
For more interesting insights into typos and punctuation, you may want to check out Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. I have not read it myself, simply because when it comes to typos, I’m the last person to be throwing stones.