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18 Reasons Why Rubik’s Cubes Are (Still) So Popular (Pop Culture,…)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Different types of Rubik's cube on display
PhotoRK / Shutterstock.com

Every young person in the 80s knew what a Rubik’s Cube was. It was the fad of the moment, and everyone wanted to have one. The challenge to solve the puzzle attracted many fans. Even now, many years later, Rubik’s Cubes are still one of the most sold toys in the world. 

The world’s first Speedcubing Competition was held in Budapest, Hungary, on June 5, 1982. Human curiosity about challenges and problem-solving did its work, and it became one of the most popular toys in the world. But why is this retro toy still popular today when there are so many other inventions to keep you entertained?

At its first glance, the Cube appears deceptively simple, consisting of nine colored squares on every side. Initially, each side is a single color – red, green, yellow, orange, blue, or white. The cubes must be twisted so that, ultimately, each side returns to its original combination. Keep reading to find out what makes this toy so intriguing and exciting.

These are 18 reasons why people are still drawn to Rubik’s Cubes:

1. There are countless ways to solve it.

The original Rubik’s Cube has over 43 quintillion combinations but only one solution. This means that every single combination is most likely to be different from your previous solves.

2. It’s been featured in many movies and shows.

Rubik’s Cubes have been depicted in movies and TV shows both as a prop and to portray a character’s intelligence. Some famous names are The Simpsons, Armageddon, WALL-E, The Pursuit of Happiness, Seinfield, and The Big Bang Theory. This awakens fans’ curiosity and encourages them to give the puzzle a try.

3. Will Smith compelled many people to try it (again).

Will Smith played Chris Gardner, whose wife leaves him and his son. Broke, he now has to provide and care for the child alone. Long story short, he impresses his future employer and lands a stockbroker internship program by solving a Rubik’s Cube. After this movie, Rubik’s Cubes made a resurgence in the market.

4. It’s seen as a sign that you’re a genius.

Just like the stockbroker company’s manager was impressed with Will Smith’s ability to solve a Rubik’s Cube, many people think only a knowledgeable person can do it. This is one of the reasons why Rubik’s Cubes are so intriguing and popular. It takes such a long time to crack it that most people think it takes a genius to bring it back to its original form.

5. It’s easy to carry around.

Rubik’s Cubes are small and light, so they make it a perfect toy to carry in your backpack or purse. Many people use it to kill time while waiting for an appointment, flight or just to scare away boredom.

6. It’s used as a teaching tool.

Teachers usually use Rubik’s Cubes to teach math. Dan Van der Vieren, a Colorado high school teacher and a Rubik’s Cube aficionado, utilized informal math conversations to change students’ perception of math and promote hands-on learning opportunities. You Can Do The Rubik’s Cube is another program that provides teachers with resources to teach critical thinking and the STEAM disciplines.

7. There’s an entire museum exhibition dedicated to it.

In celebration of Rubik’s Cube’s 40th anniversary, Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey, partnered with Google to create an interactive exhibition featuring the puzzle. The exhibit was very successful during its run and found wide popularity internationally. A 35-foot-tall rooftop light cube was part of the exhibition, as was a $2.5 million diamond cube, a giant walk-in cube, and cube-solving robots.

8. Google featured it as its doodle.

Google created an interactive doodle of the Cube for its anniversary. Users could twist and turn the parts of the Cube to solve it and keep a score on the side. You can still play it here.

Interior view of Google Office
ColorMaker / Shutterstock.com

9. A British pop band named a song after it, and the puzzle starred in many video clips.

The Barron Knights’ album entitled Twisting The Knights Away featured a song called Mr. Rubik, along with a Rubik’s Cube-inspired cover depicting band members’ photos on each little piece. It describes a person that goes mental after playing a Rubik’s Cube. 

The Cube is featured in Spice Girls’ song Viva Forever, Maroon 5’s song Payphone, and Magic Box’s If You music videos. Also, Genesis’s music video Land of Confusion shows a puppet version of Mr. Spock handling a Rubik’s Cube with a screwdriver.

10. It’s an inspiration for many artists’ inspiration.

Rubik’s Cube gave birth to a new artistic movement called Rubik’s Cubism, which uses a standard Rubik’s Cube to create pointillism-like art. 

Fred Holly, a legally blind artist in his 60s, was one of the first to explore the style in the mid-’80s. Also, in 2005, a street artist under the alias Invader held an art exhibition named ‘Rubik Cubism’ at Sixspace in Los Angeles. 

As a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., artist Pete Fecteau created Dream Big, using 4,242 Rubik’s Cubes. Furthermore, he also created two guides for You Can Do The Rubik’s Cube that demonstrates how schoolchildren can make Rubik’s Cube mosaics using templates.

11. It’s incredibly challenging.

Something is intriguing about the way Rubik’s Cubes combine simplicity with mathematical complexity. It takes a lot of practice and memory to solve a Rubik’s Cube, but it’s also a skill that anyone with a lot of dedication and practice can master. 

Mathematics consider solving a cube to be NP-complete. Basically, this means Rubik’s cubes are very hard to solve mathematically. It took Ernö Rubik, creator of the Cube, a month to solve his own puzzle.

12. People are trying to detach from the digital world.

Nowadays, it’s almost impossible not to own any digital gadgets. However, this tech craze has made many people addicted and dependent on their technology for everything. Because of that, some go back to analog and engage in hobbies such as collecting vinyl discs and bullet journaling. Consequently, the Rubik’s Cube had a considerable comeback.

13. It provides hours of entertainment.

While some people can solve the Rubik’s Cube in less than a minute, it takes the usual person a while to figure out how to put the puzzle back to its original configuration. Furthermore, the puzzle contains 43 quintillion different combinations, so even if you have already solved it, it will always be different every time.

14. It’s competitive.

The World Cube Association oversees competitions for mechanical puzzles operated by twisting sections of pieces, also referred to as twisty puzzles like the Rubik’s Cube. Many competitors from all around the world have participated in the WCA competitions. The goal is to solve the puzzle as fast as possible.

15. Promotes new friendships.

Over the years, cubing enthusiasts have gradually transformed the sport into a global phenomenon, as niche communities found each other on the internet. Fans of the Rubik’s Cube can easily connect and build relationships. In an interview to the Salon website, Ernö Rubik said even marriages happened because of the Cube.

16. Some people crave to beat the record.

Speedcubing competition
mxk_russ / Shutterstock.com

Solving the Cube is already hard enough without one thinking about time, but solving the Cube and trying to beat the record is even harder. However, it’s that ambition that keeps fans playing with it.

17. Comics authors have referred to it.

For instance, DC Comics’ Final Crisis series show time-traveler’s new god Metron challenging mathematicians’ theory that a Rubik’s Cube god number is 20. The Mister Miracle version of Metron restores Nix Uotan to his god-like form by solving the puzzle in 17 moves. Additionally, it flashes a blinding magical light that destroys the evil minions of Darkseid and that restores his memory.

18. It’s fun and exciting.

There are over 43 quintillion configurations possible for this colorful toy, presenting an overwhelming challenge despite its straightforward design. Consequently, people believe that you are a genius if you solve one of these gadgets, thus encouraging them to try and solve it.

Last Word

Rubik’s Cubes are simple toys that are easy to carry around, there is no need for a battery, and they don’t usually break (unless you do it on purpose). It is yours forever. These days, almost anyone can learn them from the internet. If you actually succeed in completing a puzzle, it’s a lot more rewarding than most games out there.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.